Compare that to the New York Times. CLIMATE CHANGE DENIAL read the print edition subtitle. The web headline: “Trump Picks Scott Pruitt, Climate Change Denialist, to Lead E.P.A.” The Times article does not quote any supporters of the pick but does usefully quote Pruitt himself.
“Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind,” he wrote in National Review earlier this year. “That debate should be encouraged — in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress. It should not be silenced with threats of prosecution. Dissent is not a crime.”
This tale of two newspaper headlines indicates the highly polarized, emotional debate over the physical science, economics, politics, and diplomacy of climate change. But words and terms are powerful things. Precision and civility are needed in light of the confirmation debate set for EPA administrator-designate Pruitt.
More precise, descriptive, and noninflammatory terms need to come to the top in a new policy era. The term skeptic can be joined by critic to designate those wary of what passes for mainstream climate science.
As the climate “consensus” continues to weaken (climate warming is well below model predictions), and natural warming in the post-Little Ice Age era is better understood and appreciated, non-alarmist rather than “skeptic” or “critic” should come to be used more for the Pruitt position.