Trump Dissolves Climate Change Advisory Panel

The Trump administration has decided to dissolve a federal advisory panel that contributes to a report that measures the current and future impacts of climate change on the U.S., The Washington Post reports.

The acting administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Ben Friedman, informed the chair of the advisory committee that the agency would not renew its charter, which expired Sunday, the report said. This comes two years after NOAA formed the panel, called the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment, whose 15 members were tasked with advising government and private sector stakeholders on navigating climate change.

The National Climate Assessment, as the report on climate change is known, is supposed to be issued every four years, and the next one is expected next spring, according to the Post.

In the meantime, the administration is reviewing a report that could be key to the final assessment, which estimates that human activities are to blame for an increase in global temperature from 1951 to 2010. Scientists from 13 different agencies produced the report.

That report, which was obtained by The New York Times earlier this month, is awaiting final approval by the Trump administration. The report indicates that temperatures in recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years.

[CBS News]

EPA Chief Scott Pruitt: “Science Shouldn’t Dictate American Policy”

You know the drill. The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, has been asked about something scientific and has said something ludicrous in response.

Shortly after announcing that he wants climate researchers to “debate” climate deniers on live TV, he gave a characteristically painful interview to a Texas radio show. Just after appearing to endorse peer-reviewed science, he added that “science should not be something that’s just thrown about to try and dictate policy in Washington DC.”

The idea that science should not dictate nor influence policy is insane. It really doesn’t need to be said that science is one of the key foundations of modern society.

JFK couldn’t have made his famous, rousing speech about heading to the Moon without the advice and expertise of scientific experts, just as lawmakers couldn’t have appropriated funds for the groundbreaking LIGO experiments that detected gravitational waves for the very first time.

Forget America – what about the world? Without science dictating policy, smallpox wouldn’t have been eradicated, hundreds of millions of children would not be alive, and we wouldn’t know that climate change was an existential threat to life on Earth.

Science, as has often been said, is true whether you believe in it or not. It is a constantly self-correcting, unbiased system, one through which our collective understanding of the cosmos advances with each discovery.

Politics is a method in which those with the most convincing argument win elections, regardless of how factual those arguments are.

These two systems are quite different, but in an ideal world, science is used to help the most powerful people on the planet understand what is true and what is not. Evidence is better than reading our future in tea leaves.

When people like Pruitt say that science should stay out of politics, it’s immediately clear that they have an ulterior motive other than concern about the dilution of one or the other. This type of phrase is wielded by those who are unhappy that science is pointing something out to them that they dislike.

Very few people looked up at the solar eclipse and thought that science was a junk field of academia. Plenty of those with vested interests do, however, consider climate science and vaccines to be incredibly suspect. The reason why is incredibly simple: Acceptance of an eclipse probably doesn’t lose this administration votes, but acceptance of climate science does.

So is it any surprise that the Trump administration is doing all it can to destroy the reputation of scientists and the scientific method at any opportunity? Of course not – but it doesn’t make it any less outrageous.

[IFLScience]

 

 

 

Trump Officially Nominates Climate-Denying Conservative Talk Radio Host as USDA’s Top Scientist

Sam Clovis, a former Trump campaign adviser and one-time conservative talk radio host, has no background in the hard sciences, nor any policy experience with food or agriculture. Still, that did not stop President Donald Trump from officially nominating Clovis to the position of the United States Department of Agriculture’s undersecretary of research, education, and economics, the agency’s top science position.

In the past, the undersecretary of research, education, and economics has brought years of experience in science, public health, or food policy. Previous undersecretaries have been biochemists, plant physiologists, or food nutrition experts. The most recent undersecretary, Catherine Woteki, came to the position from Mars, Inc., where she helped manage the company’s scientific research on health, nutrition, and public safety.
Clovis, on the other hand, comes to the position after serving as national co-chair for the Trump campaign, which he joined in 2015. Before that, Clovis was a professor of economics at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. He has a doctorate in public administration, and unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 2014.

“Dr. Clovis was one of the first people through the door at USDA in January and has become a trusted advisor and steady hand as we continue to work for the people of agriculture,” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement on Wednesday. “He looks at every problem with a critical eye, relying on sound science and data, and will be the facilitator and integrator we need. Dr. Clovis has served this nation proudly since he was a very young man, and I am happy he is continuing to serve.”

He has served as the administration’s top USDA policy adviser since January, signing off on a memo sent to USDA scientists telling them to cease publishing “outward facing” documents, like press releases or fact sheets.

Clovis, like so many of the Trump administration’s top policy officials, does not accept the scientific consensus on climate change. In 2014, he told Iowa Public Radio that climate science is “junk science” and “not proven.” He also said in an interview with E&E News in October that the Trump administration would not prioritize climate change or climate science at the USDA — a sharp break from the Obama administration, which made a point of trying to better prepare farmers and the food system for imminent climate-fueled changes like droughts or heavier storms.

“Whether or not Clovis acknowledges climate change, it is happening, and agriculture has to deal with that,” Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food and Water Watch, told ThinkProgress. “They have to come up with techniques to grow crops in tough weather conditions, and there are always research needs for how you grow crops in changing climate more efficiently with less resources.”

Clovis would not be the only senior official at USDA to question established climate science. Secretary Perdue called climate science “obviously disconnected from reality” and “a running joke among the public” in a 2014 op-ed published in the National Review.
As undersecretary, Clovis will be responsible for administering policies to ensure USDA’s scientists conform to “scientific integrity.” It’s unclear how Clovis will administer those programs, or whether he will specifically seek to undermine climate science, as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is doing with his “red team/blue team” initiative aimed at questioning mainstream climate science.

For Lovera, Clovis’ nomination simply underscores the Trump administration’s disdain for science, from the dismissal of dozens of EPA advisory board scientists to the deletion of climate information from government websites.

“It’s a sad continuation of that trend that we were seeing with EPA and science advisory boards, and shutting down different websites,” Lovera said. “It’s just another sad example of the Trump administration putting politics first, and inside USDA, the politics of Big Agriculture.”

[ThinkProgess]

Rick Perry Loses His Cool When Confronted by Sen. Franken on Climate Science

After a week full of misleading and inaccurate statements, Energy Secretary Rick Perry remained incredulous and defiant when confronted with climate science-related facts in a budget hearing Thursday.

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) informed Perry that scientists have concluded that “humans are entirely the cause” of recent warming, to which Perry responded, “I don’t believe it” and “I don’t buy it.”

And when Franken reminded him this was the conclusion of a team of climate science skeptics funded by conservative petrochemical billionaires Charles and David Koch, Perry raised his voice and said: “To stand up and say that 100 percent of global warming is because of human activity, I think on its face, is just indefensible.”

What is indefensible is that the U.S. Secretary of Energy continues to reject established climate science and remain completely impervious to facts — which was made all too clear by a review of this week’s events.

Monday on CNBC, Perry falsely claimed that carbon dioxide was not the primary cause of recent global warming, along with a bunch of other nonsense. He also defended his right to be a “skeptic.”

On Wednesday, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) wrote Perry a letter informing him that he was simply wrong. The central role of greenhouse gases — of which CO2 is the “most important” — is “based on multiple independent lines of evidence that have been affirmed by thousands of independent scientists and numerous scientific institutions around the world,” the letter read.

The AMS called these “indisputable findings,” and pointed out, “we are not familiar with any scientific institution with relevant subject matter expertise that has reached a different conclusion.”

The AMS also explained that while some aspects of climate science are not fully resolved, this wasn’t one of them, adding, “skepticism that fails to account for evidence is no virtue.”

On Thursday, at an Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, Franken asked Perry to defend downplaying the role of CO2 — and Perry reiterated his denial. Oblivious, Perry repeated, “what’s wrong with being a skeptic?”

Perry went on to call for a so-called “red team” exercise where scientists argue back and forth with a “blue team” on the issue. “But that is exactly how science works,” replied Franken, with teams of scientists pushing back and forth on one another until a consensus is reached.

Franken then pointed out that the Koch brothers had actually helped set up a “red team” of skeptics to take a new look at all of the historical data on global surface temperatures. He then quoted what the head of that team, Dr. Richard Muller, said in the New York Times about their findings:

Call me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

At that moment in the questioning, Perry lost his composure, not merely rejecting this scientific reality but asserting angrily that it is “just indefensible.”

For the record, not only is it defensible, but in 2013, the world’s leading climatologists concluded in their summary of the latest science that “the best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.”

To clarify this science-speak from U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the best estimate is that humans are responsible for all of the warming we have suffered since 1950. Every major government in the world signed off on this conclusion back in 2013.

But the U.S. Energy Secretary is not just unaware of the science; when presented with it, he’s sure it can’t be true. That’s what makes him a denier and not a skeptic.

[ThinkProgress]

Donald Trump Administration Issues Press Release That Links to InfoWars Article

The Donald Trump administration and the far-right conspiracy website InfoWars continue to lean heavily on each other.

Less than two weeks after the White House issued a one-day press pass to the Alex Jones-run website that has peddled the Pizzagate conspiracy theory and is reportedly the subject of an FBI probe, the Trump administration sent out an email Saturday linking to an InfoWars article.

That InfoWars story purported that “Trump Supporters Outnumber Climate Change Advocates at White House.” So, once again, the Trump administration is concerned about crowd size.

[Daily Dot]

 

After Leaving Paris Accord, Trump Surrogates Go To Absurd Lengths To Deny Science

After Donald Trump isolated America from the rest of the world by pulling us out of the historic Paris Accord, there was a race to the bottom from his surrogates to see who could spit out the dumbest excuse to deny settled science.

Trump’s former communications director Jason Miller was caught by Daily Beast editor John Avlon using fake statistics to support absurd points. EPA head Scott Pruitt also claimed Thursday that the president’s decision isn’t about climate denial. Today, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) also claimed the 4.5 billion-year-old sun is no longer reliable and Trump’s economic advisor Steve Moore didn’t know the difference between 1,000-year-old windmills in Holland and wind energy mills in western Kansas. And finally, Trump apologist Jeffrey Lord called coal “the wave of the future.”

[Raw Story]

Trump Announces U.S. Will Exit Paris Climate Deal

President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord Thursday, a major step that fulfills a campaign promise while seriously dampening global efforts to curb global warming.

The decision amounts to a rebuttal of the worldwide effort to pressure Trump to remain a part of the agreement, which 195 nations signed onto. Foreign leaders, business executives and Trump’s own daughter lobbied heavily for him to remain a part of the deal, but ultimately lost out to conservatives who claim the plan is bad for the United States.

“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but being negotiations to reenter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction under terms that are fair to the United States,” Trump said from the White House Rose Garden.

“We’re getting out. And we will start to renegotiate and we’ll see if there’s a better deal. If we can, great. If we can’t, that’s fine,” he added.

[Washington Post]

Reality

The U.S. now joins Syria, which has been mired in a war and Nicaragua, which has said it didn’t join because they didn’t think the climate agreement went far enough, in not taking part in the global agreement.

For years conservatives railed against Barack Obama for what they perceived was “leading from behind.” This is exactly leading from behind. Other countries like China will now take over as global leaders in green energy and reap the economic benefits while Trump at home will push for more oil and coal.

EPA Dismisses Five Scientists from Major Review Board

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has dismissed at least five academic members of one of its scientific review boards and may replace them with representatives from industries the EPA regulates, according to The New York Times.

A spokesperson for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said Pruitt is considering replacing the five scientists with representatives of industries whose pollution the EPA polices.

“The administrator believes we should have people on this board who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community,” spokesperson J.P. Freire told The Times.

It’s the latest in a string of controversial moves by the agency in recent weeks. The agency has removed several pages about climate change from its website and has proposed shuttering a regional office that oversees environmental regulation in several states.

Trump has also signed several executive orders that impact the environment, including rolling back former President Barack Obama’s climate change policies and expanding offshore drilling.

(h/t The Hill)

Trump EPA Removes “Outdated” Climate Change Page From Website

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) removed several pages – including those related to climate change – from its website on Friday as part of an update to “reflect the agency’s new direction under President Donald Trump and Administrator Scott Pruitt.”

EPA officials removed the page relating to the Obama administration’s main emissions regulation for power plants, which now directs to an article about an executive order Trump signed in March undoing Obama’s climate agenda.

The agency’s pages relating to climate change, climate science, the impacts of climate change and what readers can do about climate change are all gone from the live site, each replaced with a banner headline saying “this page is being updated.”

The EPA’s website on climate information for children remains live.

A snapshot of the agency’s website during the Obama administration is still available online, and the EPA said pages like those relating to climate change are still “under review.”

“As EPA renews its commitment to human health and clean air, land and water, our website needs to reflect the views of the leadership of the agency,” said J.P. Freire, the agency’s associate administrator for public affairs, in a statement.

“We want to eliminate confusion by removing outdated language first and making room to discuss how we’re protecting the environment and human health by partnering with states and working within the law.”

The White House made headlines by removing the climate change page from its official website in the moments after Trump was inaugurated in January, but that was part of a broader overhaul of the site.

The EPA’s website has, until now, maintained much of the content it presented during the Obama administration, despite efforts from Trump’s EPA team to reform the agency.

EPA officials announced the website updates in a press release sent after 7 p.m. on a Friday.

Trump and Pruitt have used their first few months in office to begin the process of undoing many EPA climate rules finalized during the Obama administration, including the Clean Power Plan.

Trump has said he does not believe the science behind climate change. Pruitt has questioned whether carbon dioxide emissions are a “primary contributor” to climate change, while most climate scientists agree it is.

(h/t The Hill)

Reality

Trump’s EPA has called climate change “outdated language” yet there is nothing new in the scientific literature has overturned the overwhelming scientific evidence that carbon dioxide [CO2] in the atmosphere is the primary driver of climate change.

Science has been aware for over 150 years that carbon in the atmosphere will retain heat. The year was 1859 to be exact, and it was scientist John Tyndall who made the discovery that carbon in the atmosphere trapped heat. Then in 1896 Svante Arrhenius calculated that, based on this simple principle of physics, higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere would raise global temperatures.

These discoveries are the cornerstones of climate science, in 150 years have yet to be disputed, and instead continues to be confirmed by observation.

To explain further, the science, in short, says the following. CO2 lets through short wave light, the kind that passes through our atmosphere, but traps long wave radiation, the kind that is reflected and travels back into space. This experiment can be done in a laboratory, and should you have the time you could see it for yourself.

The site at this link has compiled a list of just a handful of the published scientific papers of laboratory measurements of CO2 absorption properties, ranging from 1861 all the way up to 2008. Knowing this evidence, scientist reached a consensus a long time ago that CO2 is indeed a contributor to global warming.

Just to reiterate here, Donald Trump’s acceptance of science predates the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, the American Civil War, and the First Transcontinental Railroad. This is the equivalent trying to attack a state-of-the-art military drone with a Civil War era musket.

EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Says Carbon Dioxide is Not a Primary Contributor to Global Warming

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said Thursday he does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming.

“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“But we don’t know that yet. … We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”

The statement contradicts the public stance of the agency Pruitt leads. The EPA’s webpage on the causes of climate change states, “Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change.”

Pruitt’s view is also at odds with the opinion of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere,” NASA and NOAA said in January.

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, co-chair of the Senate Climate Action Task Force, slammed Pruitt for his comments, calling his views “extreme” and “irresponsible.”

“Anyone who denies over a century’s worth of established science and basic facts is unqualified to be the administrator of the EPA. Now more than ever, the Senate needs to stand up to Scott Pruitt and his dangerous views,” he said in a statement.

Schatz said lawmakers would hold Pruitt accountable through the appropriations process and oversight of the EPA, and by making sure he follows the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

Pruitt previously served as Oklahoma attorney general, where he rose to prominence as a leader in coordinated efforts by Republican attorneys general to challenge President Barack Obama‘s regulatory agenda. He sued or took part in legal actions against the EPA 14 times.

Democrats and environmentalists opposed Pruitt’s nomination to lead the EPA due to his close relationship with fossil fuel companies and his history of casting doubt on climate change. Conservatives and the energy industry have cheered his efforts to push back on what they view as over-regulation under Obama.

Pruitt maintained on Thursday it’s possible to be pro-growth, pro-jobs and pro-environment all at once.

“This idea that if you’re pro-environment you’re anti-energy is just something we’ve got to change so that attitude is something we’re working on very much,” he said.

Asked whether he would seek to roll back the EPA’s 2009 determination that carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases are a danger to public health, Pruitt suggested he would like to see Congress take up the issue.

“I think all those things need to be addressed as we go forward but not least of which is the response by the legislative branch with respect to the issue,” he said.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the EPA has the authority to regulate heat-trapping gases from automobiles. In 2014, it determined the agency could also regulate some sources of greenhouse gases, such as power plants.

Pruitt also called the Paris Agreement, an international accord aimed at mitigating the impacts of climate change, “a bad deal.” He said it puts the United States on a different playing field than developing countries like China and India.

The United States has vowed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. In comparison, China has committed to reach peak carbon emissions levels by 2030, but will try to reach that point sooner.

“I happen to think the Paris accord, the Paris treaty, or the Paris Agreement, if you will, should have been treated as a treaty, should have gone through senate confirmation. That’s a concern,” he said.

The Paris Agreement was negotiated by the State Department, and future adherence to U.S. commitments made under Obama will be guided by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Tillerson, the former chief of Exxon Mobil, said during his Senate confirmation hearing that he believes the United States should remain a party to the Paris Agreement.

(h/t CNBC)

Reality

There is nothing in the scientific literature that can back up Scott Pruitt’s claim. On the contrary there is overwhelming scientific evidence that carbon dioxide [CO2] in the atmosphere is the primary driver of climate change.

Science has been aware for over 150 years that carbon in the atmosphere will retain heat. The year was 1859 to be exact, and it was scientist John Tyndall who made the discovery that carbon in the atmosphere trapped heat. Then in 1896 Svante Arrhenius calculated that, based on this simple principle of physics, higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere would raise global temperatures. These discoveries are the cornerstones of climate science, in 150 years have yet to be disputed, and instead continues to be confirmed by observation.

To explain further, the science, in short, says the following. CO2 lets through short wave light, the kind that passes through our atmosphere, but traps long wave radiation, the kind that is reflected and travels back into space. This experiment can be done in a laboratory, and should you have the time you could see it for yourself.

The site at this link has compiled a list of just a handful of the published scientific papers of laboratory measurements of CO2 absorption properties, ranging from 1861 all the way up to 2008. Knowing this evidence, scientist reached a consensus a long time ago that CO2 is indeed a contributor to global warming.

Just to reiterate here, Scott Pruitt’s acceptance of science predates the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, the American Civil War, and the First Transcontinental Railroad. This is the equivalent trying to attack a state-of-the-art military drone with a Civil War era musket.

Media

CNBC

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