More than 70 science journalists signed an open letter challenging Amy Coney Barrett’s refusal to publicly acknowledge the latest science confirming that human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels, is the driver of climate change. In the letter, published in Rolling Stone, they stated:

“The vast majority of the world’s people, including those in the United States, not only acknowledge the scientific certainty of climate change, but also want action taken to address it.

“We have succeeded because the science is clear, despite there being a massive well-orchestrated effort of propaganda, lies, and denial by the world’s largest fossil fuel corporations, including ExxonMobil and Koch Industries and fossil-fuel-backed institutes and think tanks.”

About 88% of the global disease burden of climate change falls on children under 5, according to a study by the American Public Health Association which says children are especially vulnerable to climate change because of their physical and cognitive immaturity.

Climate change also directly and indirectly puts children at risk of mental health issues, including PTSD, depression, anxiety, phobias, sleep disorders, attachment disorders and substance abuse, according to this recent review of studies.

Whether it’s Pfizer, or R.J. Reynolds, or Monsanto, or Coca-Cola, or Exxon — predatory industries all use the same playbook. Pharma convinces the public that the autism epidemic is an illusion. Big Tobacco swears smoking doesn’t cause cancer. Monsanto convinces us that glyphosate is harmless. Coke tells us lack of exercise, not sugar, is causing obesity.

Similarly, Big Oil and King Coal go to great lengths to persuade us that carbon doesn’t heat the planet — despite the fact that 97% of climate scientists agree human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels, are likely the leading cause of global warming.

The climate and science journalists who authored and signed the open letter challenged Barrett, who has close ties to the fossil fuel industry, for siding with “mistruths” and for providing responses that were “factually inaccurate, scientifically unsound and dangerous.”

Read the full letter and list of signatories:

We are science and climate journalists. We are researchers and weavers of information, creating a fabric that explains the work of scientists who themselves are working to describe our natural world and universe. We are published in the nation’s leading outlets, both large and small, including Scientific American, Nature, National Geographic, MIT Technology Review, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and many more.

Over decades of reporting on the threats and now deadly and devastating harms of worsening climate change, we have succeeded in at least one respect. The vast majority of the world’s people, including those in the United States, not only acknowledge the scientific certainty of climate change, but also want action taken to address it.

We have succeeded because the science is clear, despite there being a massive well-orchestrated effort of propaganda, lies, and denial by the world’s largest fossil fuel corporations, including ExxonMobil and Koch Industries and fossil-fuel-backed institutes and think tanks. It is frightening that a Supreme Court nominee — a position that is in essence one of the highest fact-checkers in the land—has bought into the same propaganda we have worked so hard to dispel.

And it is facts — a word under repeated assault by the Trump administration, which nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett — that are at issue here. “I’m certainly not a scientist…I’ve read things about climate change. I would not say I have firm views on it,” Judge Coney Barrett told Sen. John Kennedy during the Senate confirmation hearings on October 13th.

The next day, Sen. Richard Blumenthal asked Judge Coney Barrett if she believed “human beings cause global warming.” She replied: “I don’t think I am competent to opine on what causes global warming or not. I don’t think that my views on global warming or climate change are relevant to the job I would do as a judge.”

When asked that same day by Sen. Kamala Harris if she accepts that “COVID-19 is infectious,” Coney Barrett said yes. When asked if “smoking causes cancer,” Coney Barrett said yes.

But when asked if “climate change is happening, and is threatening the air we breathe and the water we drink,” Judge Coney Barrett said that while the previous topics are “completely uncontroversial,” climate change is instead, “a very contentious matter of public debate.”

She continued: “I will not express a view on a matter of public policy, especially one that is politically controversial because that’s inconsistent with the judicial role, as I have explained.”

Judge Coney Barrett repeatedly refused to acknowledge the scientific certainty of climate change. This is an untenable position, particularly when the world’s leading climate scholars warned in 2018 that we have just 12 years to act to bring down global average temperature rise and avert the most dire predictions of the climate crisis.

At the moment when the facts of the case were presented to her, this arbiter of justice freely chose to side with mistruths. Judge Coney Barrett’s responses are factually inaccurate, scientifically unsound, and dangerous.

How can Judge Coney Barrett rule on pending issues of climate change liability, regulation, finance, mitigation, equity, justice, and accountability if she fails to accept even the underlying premise of global warming? The answer is that she cannot.

Judge Coney Barrett’s ties to the fossil fuel industry have already proved problematic, forcing recusal from cases involving Shell Oil entities related to her father’s work as a long-time attorney for the company. She may also need to recuse herself from future cases due to her father’s former position as chairman of the Subcommittee on Exploration and Production Law of the American Petroleum Institute—the nation’s leading fossil fuel lobby.

Climate change is already an increasingly dominant aspect of American life, and an issue of growing import in American law. On the Supreme Court docket is BP P.L.C v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore—a case that involves Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and other major oil companies, and could impact about a dozen U.S. states and localities suing Big Oil over its contribution to climate change.

Judge Coney Barrett says, “I’m certainly not a scientist,” but she does not need to be a scientist, rather she needs to have faith in science. Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, is an ardent supporter of action on climate change, releasing in 2015 the “Encyclical on Climate Change & Inequality: On Care for Our Common Home.” The Pope embraces hard science in order to keep close to his faith.

Judge Coney Barrett has displayed a profound inability to understand the ecological crisis of our times, and in so doing she enables it.

Signed,

Bill McKibben, journalist and author, the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in environmental studies at Middlebury College

Rebecca Solnit, author and journalist

Sonia Shah, science journalist and author

Jonathan Weiner, Pulitzer Prize winning author, science journalist, and professor at Columbia Journalism School

Jeff Goodell, climate journalist and author of The Water Will Come

Naomi Klein, journalist and author

Michelle Nijhuis, science journalist and author

Amy Westervelt, climate journalist

Rachel Ramirez, environmental justice reporter

Iris Crawford, climate justice journalist

Anoa Changa, movement and environmental justice journalist

Tiên Nguyễn, multimedia science journalist

Eric Holthaus, meteorologist, climate journalist at The Phoenix

Jenni Monet (Laguna Pueblo), climate affairs journalist and founder of Indigenously

Nina Lakhani, environmental justice reporter

Samir S. Patel, science journalist and editor

Clinton Parks, freelance science writer

Meehan Crist, writer in residence in biological sciences, Columbia University

Elizabeth Rush, science writer, author of Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore

Anne McClintock, climate journalist, photographer and author, professor of environmental humanities and writing at Princeton University

Ruth Hopkins (Oceti Sakowin, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate), tribal attorney, Indigenous journalist

Wade Roush, science and technology journalist and author

Kim Stanley Robinson, New York Times bestselling author of climate science fiction, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards

Jason Mark, editor in chief, Sierra

Kate Aronoff, climate journalist

Richard Louv, journalist and author

Heather Smith, science journalist

Judith Lewis Mernit, California climate editor, Capital & Main

Madeline Ostrander, climate journalist

Julie Dermansky, multimedia environmental and social justice journalist

Kenneth Brower, environmental journalist and author

Alexander Zaitchik, science and political journalist and author

Hillary M. Rosner, science journalist and scholar in residence, University of Colorado

Wudan Yan, science journalist

Debra Atlas, environmental journalist and author

Rucha Chitnis, climate, environmental justice and human rights documentarian

Drew Costley, environmental justice reporter

Jonathan Thompson, environmental author and journalist

Carol Clouse, environmental journalist

Brian Kahn, climate journalist

Geoff Dembicki, climate journalist and author

Peter Fairley, energy and environment journalist

Nicholas Cunningham, energy reporter

Nina Berman, documentary photographer focusing on issues of climate and the environment, professor of journalism at Columbia University

Michele C. Hollow, freelance journalist

Ben Depp, documentary photographer, focusing on issues of climate and the environment

Virginia Hanusik, climate photographer

Philip Yam, science journalist and author

Maura R. O’Connor, science journalist and author

Chad J. Reich, audio and visual journalist covering energy and environment in rural communities

Steve Ross, environmental writer/editor, former Columbia environmental reporting professor

Starre Vartan, science journalist

Michael Snyder, climate photographer

Brandon Keim, science and nature journalist

Tom Athanasiou, climate equity writer and researcher

Hope Marcus, climate writer

Jocelyn C. Zuckerman, freelance journalist

Dana Drugmand, climate journalist

Tom Molanphy, climate journalist

Roxanne Szal, associate digital editor, Ms. Magazine

Dashka Slater, author and climate reporter

Jenn Emerling, documentary photographer, focusing on issues of climate and culture in the American West

Christine Heinrichs, science writer and author

Clayton Aldern, climate and environmental journalist

Karen Savage, climate journalist

Charlotte Dennett, author, investigative journalist, attorney

Carly Berlin, environmental reporter

Ben Ehrenreich, author and journalist

Ibby Caputo, science journalist

Lawrence Weschler, former New Yorker staff writer, environmental author, most recently with David Opdyke, of This Land: An Epic Postcard Mural on the Future of a Country in Ecological Peril.

Justin Nobel, science journalist

Antonia Juhasz, climate and energy journalist and author