Two years ago today, GAP’s Climate Science Watch founder and Bush Administration whistleblower, Rick Piltz, passed away. Rick lived a fascinating life of social change activism and truth-telling, and devoted much of his time during his final days to ensuring his friends and followers could carry on his mission of challenging both those who deny that human activity is the leading cause of climate change and government officials responsible for developing and implementing environmentally insidious energy policies. Above all else, he wanted his nation to demonstrate leadership in dramatically curtailing the burning of fossil fuels and ameliorating other harmful practices that continue to take place.
In my eulogy for Rick, I asserted that he had passed the baton to all of us to continue the fight for the planet’s health. He often signed off his emails with the apt phrase, “To be continued.” A day before his death, he gave his instruction for how Climate Science Watch should continue. The name was to become Climate Science & Policy Watch. This change was to signal that though the battle to expose climate change denialists as propagandists, charlatans, and frauds was somewhat successful, the harder job of exposing counterproductive government energy policies and practices was still critically necessary. Without our collective efforts, he believed we as a species would generate the type of forces that would upend life on earth as we now know it.
Indeed, Rick lives in our hearts and minds here at GAP. We have re-launched the new Climate Science & Policy Watch as he hoped we would. In the picture that hangs in our conference room, which now bears his name, Rick is receiving the coveted Ridenhour Prize for Truth-telling. As he accepted that award, he instructed,
“You have to have the leadership listen to what federal climate scientists are saying, and embrace it and accept it and promote it and act on it…But it’s really for the rest of us to take the responsibility to hold public officials accountable to enable society to get the global warming problem dealt with effectively. And that’s something I think that we all have a role in. I’ll leave you with that thought.”
Louis Clark is Executive Director and CEO of the Government Accountability Project.