Special Presidential Envoy for Climate or for Hysteria?

Special Presidential Envoy for Climate or for Hysteria?

  • June 20, 2023
John Kerry’s outlandish claim unsupported by evidence draws scientific integrity complaint

Today, Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) filed a complaint with the Department of State and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy regarding Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry apparently misrepresenting scientific evidence in a recent speech on climate issues in agriculture. Mr. Kerry claimed that greenhouse gas emissions currently kill 15 million people every year. This claim is both jaw-dropping and entirely unsupported by scientific data.

On May 10, 2023, Mr. Kerry addressed a summit hosted by the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate in his role as Special Envoy. During his remarks, Mr. Kerry stressed the urgency of reaching net-zero emissions in the agricultural sector. To support this policy position, Mr. Kerry made this dramatic claim:

Fifteen million people are dying every single year around this planet as a consequence of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, in the air which travels around and drops in the form of pollution and is warming the ocean at record rates, changing the chemistry of the ocean itself.

The Biden Administration has repeatedly emphasized the importance of upholding the strictest standards of scientific integrity. On January 27, 2021, the President issued the Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking, which notes that: “[s]cientific findings should never be distorted or influenced by political considerations.”

In addition to the Memorandum, the State Department, where Mr. Kerry’s Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate is housed, maintains its own scientific integrity policies. Under its policies, scientific integrity is compromised by “[a]ltering, or misrepresenting scientific or technological findings in public communications.”

Despite the enormity of his claim, Mr. Kerry did not cite any scientific evidence for it – nor is there any scientific research finding that 15 million people die yearly due to greenhouse gas emissions. Mr. Kerry seemingly misrepresented scientific findings to advance political considerations – as specifically prohibited in both the Biden Administration’s memorandum, and the State Department’s policy. Such a misstatement of scientific information to the public is a threat to public trust and good governance.

“There are few more perilous breaches of scientific integrity than for public officials to convey inaccurate data to the public knowingly or recklessly, especially when it is done to justify politically motivated decisions or agendas.” Michael Chamberlain, Director of Protect the Public’s Trust, said. “Simply put, hysteria, hyperbole, and misrepresentation of data have no place in our government’s official pronouncements. The American public’s trust in its government has plunged to depths never before seen and is unlikely ever to recover if we have powerful officials throwing out numbers unsupported by evidence.”