Global warming is a topic that suffers from “groupthink,” and cries out for an “open debate” among scientists. Oh, and it also might not be real.
This is all this according to Peter Thiel, a Facebook board member and influential advisor to President Donald Trump.
Speaking on Tuesday at a prominent energy industry conference in Houston, Thiel said he is skeptical of mainstream climate science that has shown the Earth is warming primarily due to human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels for energy.
“I don’t know whether I am an extreme skeptic on climate change, but I have my doubts about the extreme ways that people try to push it through,” Thiel said, according to reporting from Ben Geman of Axios as well as a recording of the session.
“I would say that I would be much more convinced of climate change, of the need to do something, if I thought there was a more open debate in which both sides were given a full hearing,” he added.
“And it’s possible that even if climate change is quite as bad as people say it is, that maybe we misdiagnosed the problem, maybe it’s all methane emissions,” he said, according to a recording of the session. This implies that efforts to regulate carbon dioxide emissions could be a mistake.
Unfortunately for Thiel, that’s not how science works. When it comes to global warming, there is no credible other side to argue with given the lack of evidence showing that modern global warming is due to anything other than rising amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere due to human activities.
The scientific community has investigated and debated human-caused global warming since the late 18th century, with virtually no credible studies published recently showing that global warming trends are driven by anything other than greenhouse gas emissions.
Last year was the planet’s warmest on record, beating out the previous two years for the title.
Thiel’s view adheres closely to that of many Trump administration officials, with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt also calling for a more open debate of long-settled climate science findings.
Instead of debating whether human-caused global warming is a reality, the climate science community tends to be divided among those who believe there is still time to avoid the worst-case scenarios of the rapid loss of ice sheets and extreme weather events, and those who think we are past the point of no return.
During his conference appearance, Thiel also extolled the virtues of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” which has helped produce a glut of natural gas supplies in the U.S. while raising air and water pollution concerns.
The controversial oil and gas drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing, better known as “fracking,” was a more consequential innovation than anything Silicon Valley has done, Thiel said.
“What’s very striking is that on some level I think fracking represents a bigger economic form of progress for our society as a whole than the innovation in Silicon Valley.”
One of Pruitt’s first moves at the EPA has been to stop the rule-making process on regulations that would limit methane emissions from fracking and other oil and gas drilling operations.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who until January was the CEO of oil giant Exxon Mobil, has also said he doubts that greenhouse gases are the main reason why the globe’s average temperature is rapidly increasing.
Trump himself has called human-caused global warming a “hoax,” and his administration is moving to slash funding for climate science research and programs aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide and methane.