President-elect Donald Trump has been accused of a McCarthy-style witch hunt after his transition team asked for the names of all scientists to have worked with the US Department of Energy on climate change policy.
Trump was again criticised for his climate change policies after his adviser Anthony Scaramucci dismissed scientific evidence that global warming is man-made in a CNN interview.
Asked about why Trump's transition team had requested the names of those involved in climate change policies, Scaramucci skirted around the issue, and referred to the request – which is being resisted by the Department of Energy – as an "intellectual curiosity expedition".
In a post for Slate.com's Bad Astronomy blog, scientist Phil Plait said the request "brings up images of Joseph McCarthy at the very least" given "Trump's own predilection for harassing and attacking people".
In the interview, which was broadcast by CNN, Scaramucci echoed sentiments recently expressed by Trump that "nobody really knows" if climate change is real, by repeatedly referring to the notion of man-made climate change as "ideological".
Asked about his thoughts on the issue, Scaramucci argued: "There are scientists that believe that's not happening."
He added that he personally did not know whether or not climate change was happening, and that it was "probably a blend" of people and other factors.
When the interview pointed out that there was evidence-based scientific consensus that climate change is caused by man, and it is not an ideological opinion, Scaramucci argued: "There was an overwhelming science that the world was flat… We get a lot of things wrong in the scientific society."
Pressed on the issue of whether or not he personally believed in man-made climate change, Scaramucci told interviewer Chris Cuomo he was: "Not certain about it…"
Cuomo responded: "You said you don't know. I'm saying the scientific community does."
Scaramucci responded, "But you're saying that you do, and you're saying the scientific community knows, and I'm saying people have gotten things wrong throughout the 5,500-year history of our planet."
The claim that the Earth is 5,500 years old, rather than its actual 4.543 billion years, is made by Creationists – Christian fundamentalists who say the creation myth from the Bible's Old Testament book Genesis must be taken literally.
Scaramucci attempted to appease those who accept the scientific consensus that climate change is man-made, by saying Trump took a "common sense" approach to environmental policy.
He added Trump had met with actor and climate change activist Leonardo DiCaprio, and that he did agree that reducing emissions would result in cleaner air and water.
Scaramucci is the founder of the hedge fund SkyBridge Capital. He was a supporter of President Obama, after he was first elected in 2008, but accused Obama of "whacking Wall Street like a piñata" in 2010.