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

Trump Administration Tells EPA to Cut Climate Page From Website

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the climate change page from its website, two agency employees told Reuters, the latest move by the newly minted leadership to erase ex-President Barack Obama’s climate change initiatives.

The employees were notified by EPA officials on Tuesday that the administration had instructed EPA’s communications team to remove the website’s climate change page, which contains links to scientific global warming research, as well as detailed data on emissions. The page could go down as early as Wednesday, the sources said.

“If the website goes dark, years of work we have done on climate change will disappear,” one of the EPA staffers told Reuters, who added some employees were scrambling to save some of the information housed on the website, or convince the Trump administration to preserve parts of it.

The sources asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

A Trump administration official did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The order comes as Trump’s administration has moved to curb the flow of information from several government agencies who oversee environmental issues since last week, in actions that appeared designed to tighten control and discourage dissenting views.

The moves have reinforced concerns that Trump, a climate change doubter, could seek to sideline scientific research showing that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming, as well as the career staffers at the agencies that conduct much of this research.

Myron Ebell, who helped guide the EPA’s transition after Trump was elected in November until he was sworn in last week, said the move was not surprising.

“My guess is the web pages will be taken down, but the links and information will be available,” he said.

The page includes links to the EPA’s inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, which contains emissions data from individual industrial facilities as well as the multiagency Climate Change Indicators report, which describes trends related to the causes and effects of climate change.

The Trump administration’s recently appointed team to guide the post-Obama transition has drawn heavily from the energy industry lobby and pro-drilling think tanks, according to a list of the newly introduced 10-member team.

Trump appointed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a longtime foe of the EPA who has led 14 lawsuits against it, as the agency’s administrator. The Senate environment committee held a tense seven-hour confirmation hearing for Pruitt last week. No vote on his nomination has been scheduled yet.

(h/t Reuters)

Update

After heavy criticism the Trump administration has back off their request… for now.

Trump Gagged the US Agriculture Department’s Research Arm From Publicly Sharing Its Work

The US Department of Agriculture has banned scientists and other employees in its main research division from publicly sharing everything from the summaries of scientific papers to USDA-branded tweets as it starts to adjust to life under the Trump administration, BuzzFeed News has learned.

According to an email sent Monday morning and obtained by BuzzFeed News, the department told staff — including some 2,000 scientists — at the agency’s main in-house research arm, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), to stop communicating with the public about taxpayer-funded work.

“Starting immediately and until further notice, ARS will not release any public-facing documents,” Sharon Drumm, chief of staff for ARS, wrote in a department-wide email shared with BuzzFeed News.

“This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content,” she added.

Indeed, the last tweet from ARS’s official account was sent the day before Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

Though the terse internal note did not explicitly mention the new presidential administration, department scientists around the country interpreted it as a message from Trump that changes were coming to the department.

The memo was also met with some confusion. When asked if the notice constituted a halt on the publication of academic articles, one regional director told scientists that research papers could be published in academic journals and presented at conferences, but that all media interviews must be approved by the office of communications in Washington.

In a statement on Tuesday to BuzzFeed News, the department acknowledged sending an internal email that halted the release of “informational products like news releases and social media content” on Monday. “Scientific publications, released through peer reviewed professional journals are not included,” he added.

“As the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency, ARS values and is committed to maintaining the free flow of information between our scientists and the American public as we strive to find solutions to agricultural problems affecting America,” Christopher Bentley, a spokesperson for ARS, said in the statement.

Though some Agricultural Research Service work touches on sensitive subjects like pesticides and genetically modified food, its research is generally less politically charged than that conducted by other agencies, especially those focused on understanding climate change, such as the Environmental Protection Agency.

But under the Obama administration, the Agriculture Department funneled research money into finding ways of cutting down the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from cows.

The nomination of former Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia as agriculture secretary puts the fate of that and other department research touching on climate change into question. Like President Trump himself, Perdue has in the past bucked the overwhelming consensus among climate scientists that Earth’s atmosphere and oceans are warming due to human activity.

“It’s become a running joke among the public,” Perdue wrote in the National Review in 2014, “and liberals have lost all credibility when it comes to climate science because their arguments have become so ridiculous and so obviously disconnected from reality.”

Other agencies are under lockdown as well since Trump moved into the White House.

Employees at the National Park Service were told to stop tweeting from official park accounts. The Trump administration has also imposed a freeze on grants and contracts from the EPA, the Huffington Post and ProPublica reported on Monday. The EPA, too, is no longer issuing press releases or posting on social media, according to the reports.

(h/t Buzzfeed)

 

Trump Administration Freezes All EPA Grants, Forbids Staffers From Talking to the Public

The oil-loving climate change critic President Trump picked to lead the Environmental Protection Agency still hasn’t been confirmed by the Senate, but troubling changes are already afoot at the EPA.

According to reports from ProPublica and The Huffington Post, the White House told the agency to immediately suspend its contract and grant programs on Monday and restricted all outgoing communication until further notice, measures a veteran staffer characterized as extraordinary.

The intended duration of the funding freeze was not immediately clear, but the former head of Trump’s EPA transition team, Myron Ebell, confirmed that it had been put in place Monday night.

“They’re trying to freeze things to make sure nothing happens they don’t want to have happen,” Ebell told ProPublica. “So any regulations going forward, contracts, grants, hires, they want to make sure to look at them first.”

Ebell conceded that the suspension “may be a little wider” than those instituted by previous administrations, but claimed it was still “very similar.” Whether or not that is true, however, is difficult to determine, as staffers were told to cease communicating with the public on Monday, The Huffington Post reports.

In an email obtained by site, EPA employees were instructed not to blog, post on social media, issue press releases or update agency websites “until further direction” by Trump officials. Still, some info managed to leak from the agency that, in the last year on record, awarded over $10 billion in grants and contracts across the country.

“Right now we are in a holding pattern,” wrote an EPA contracting officer in an email obtained by ProPublica. “The new EPA administration has asked that all contract and grant awards be temporarily suspended, effective immediately. Until we receive further clarification, this includes task orders and work assignments.”

While the funding freeze has alarmed many in the scientific community, it’s sadly not a complete surprise. After all, the man Trump wants to head the EPA described himself as a “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda” on his resume.

(h/t Gizmodo)

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