Trump points to French riots to justify pulling out of Paris climate deal

President Trump on Tuesday cited recent riots in France as justification for his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate deal, which he called “fatally flawed.”

“I am glad that my friend @EmmanuelMacron and the protestors in Paris have agreed with the conclusion I reached two years ago. The Paris Agreement is fatally flawed because it raises the price of energy for responsible countries while whitewashing some of the worst polluters in the world,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The president argued that he has “been making great strides in improving America’s environment,” but suggested the Paris agreement put the burden for environmentally-friendly policies on American taxpayers.

The president’s tweet came after France on Tuesday delayed plans to implement steep taxes on diesel fuel and gasoline as part of Macron’s effort to reduce emissions.

“No tax is worth putting in danger the unity of the nation,” Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said in announcing the delay.

The announcement was preceded by intense protests in Paris, where demonstrators vandalized monuments and clashed with police, injuring more than 100 people. The protesters had lashed out against the planned fuel tax and, more broadly, Macron’s leadership.

Trump announced in June 2017 that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris agreement, which includes nearly every country as part of a global effort to combat climate change. The accord does not allow nations to submit exit paperwork until November 2019, and the United States’s departure would not be effective until November 2020.

The president has long voiced skepticism about the existence of climate change, and his administration has undone a number of environmental regulations established during the Obama years.

Trump late last month dismissed the findings of a government report that warned of dire consequences if the country does not address climate change. The president went on to dispute the scientific consensus that human activity contributes to climate change.

[The Hill]

Sarah Sanders: Climate change report ‘not based on facts’

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday dismissed the findings of a government report that warned of the impending consequences of climate change, claiming it’s “not based on facts.”

“The president’s certainly leading on what matters most in this process, and that’s on having clean air, clean water,” Sanders told reporters at a press briefing. “In fact, the United States continues to be a leader on that front.”

Sanders disputed the report’s findings, claiming it’s “not based on facts” and arguing that modeling the climate “is never exact.” She did not indicate that Trump would call on world leaders at this week’s Group of 20 summit to address the report’s findings.

“We think that this is the most extreme version and it’s not based on facts,” she said. “It’s not data driven. We’d like to see something that is more data driven. It’s based on modeling, which is extremely hard to do when you’re talking about the climate.”

The report was developed by multiple federal agencies. A version of it is mandated to be released every four years under the National Climate Assessment from the multiagency Global Change Research Program.

The hundreds of government and external scientists involved in the research concluded that climate change could cost the United States billions of dollars annually within decades if greenhouse gases aren’t dramatically reduced, and could worsen environmental disasters like wildfires and flooding. Its findings aligned with those of the broader scientific community.

Trump downplayed the report’s findings, telling reporters on Monday’s that he doesn’t “believe” its warnings about the economic impacts of climate change.

The president has long voiced skepticism about the existence of climate change.

Democrats criticized that the report was released on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, saying the timing was meant to bury it. They renewed calls for the use of renewable energy sources and other policies that could mitigate the effects of climate change.

Republican lawmakers have largely acknowledged that the climate is changing but have offered few concrete solutions to address the problem. Some lawmakers have emphasized the need to find innovations that would not adversely affect the economy.

[The Hill]

Trump on dire warnings in climate report: ‘I don’t believe it’

President Trump said Monday that he doesn’t “believe” the findings of a major report his administration released forecasting dire consequences to the United States from climate change.

“Yeah, I don’t believe it,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a campaign rally for Sen. Cindy Hyde Smith (R) in Mississippi, when asked about the predictions of economic devastation.

“I’ve seen it, I’ve read some of it, and it’s fine,” Trump said of the report.

The report, part of the fourth congressionally-mandated National Climate Assessment from the multi-agency Global Change Research Program, came out Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and a major shopping day for the United States. That led critics to charge that Trump was trying to bury the findings.

The hundreds of government and external scientists involved in the research concluded that climate change could cost the United States billions of dollars annually within decades if greenhouse gases aren’t dramatically reduced.

“Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century,” it found.

The conclusions generally align with the scientific consensus on climate change, including that human activity, via greenhouse gases, is the chief cause of global warming and its impacts.

Trump has been outspoken in doubting the scientific consensus on climate. He tweeted in 2012 that “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

His environmental policy since taking office last year has followed that skepticism. Through the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies, he has sought to significantly roll back or repeal nearly every climate policy former President Obama put into place, including greenhouse gas rules for power plants, cars and oil and natural gas drillers.

Trump’s position that he doesn’t “believe” the report aligns with some other Republicans who sought to discredit its findings.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that scientists involved in the research were motivated to get to their conclusions by money. He did not provide any evidence to back the claim.

“If there was no climate change, we’d have a lot of scientists looking for work. The reality is that a lot of these scientists are driven by the money that they receive,” he said.

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) also charged that scientists were motivated by money.

“Through the entire report, there’s no dissenting opinion. They went out and picked out people that would say what their conclusions they already wrote before they did the report,” he said Monday on CNN. “It’s flawed, it’s ridiculous, and frankly, embarrassing.”

[The Hill]

Media

 

 

 

Trump confuses climate change with weather

Donald Trump has once again confused the weather with climate change after suggesting chilly weather headed towards the US means global warming is not real.

“Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS – Whatever happened to Global Warming?” Mr Trump tweeted on Wednesday evening.

The US president was apparently referring to possible record low temperaturesforecast for northeastern US this weekend.

Mr Trump’s claim echoed another tweet from a year ago, in which he said America would benefit from “a little bit of that good old global warming” when much of the US was inundated with snow.

The 72-year-old has long denied the scientific consensus on climate change, claiming in 2012 the phenomenon was a Chinese hoax intended to hurt American exports.

Scientists generally prefer the term “climate change” to “global warming” because the effects of humans emitting heat-trapping greenhouse gases are more likely to manifest as extreme weather events rather than temperature increases alone.

[The Independent]

Donald Trump heads to California, again blaming fires on forest management

President Donald Trump headed to California on Saturday to see firsthand the grief and devastation from the deadliest US wildfire in a century, as confusion continued over how many people remain unaccounted for.

Authorities confirmed a new death toll of 71 and said they were trying to locate 1,011 people even as they stressed that not all are believed missing.

But Trump has stirred resentment among survivors and many others over comments he made two days after the disaster on Twitter, then reiterated on the eve of his visit.

In an interview scheduled for broadcast on Fox News Sunday, Trump said he was surprised to see images of firefighters removing dried brush near a fire, adding, “This should have been all raked out.”

Asked if he thought climate change contributed to the fires, he said: “Maybe it contributes a little bit. The big problem we have is management.”

Before boarding Air Force One to California on Saturday morning, Trump was asked about forest management again and repeated his stance. “Everybody now knows that this is what we have to be doing … It should’ve been done many years ago,” he said.

Those comments, and those in his Fox interview, echoed his initial reaction to the fires on 10 November when he blamed the wildfires on poor forest management and threatened then to withhold federal payments. His words caused widespread outrage, though Trump subsequently approved a federal disaster declaration and he has since repeatedly praised the work of first responders, including just before leaving Washington DC.

“I want to be with the firefighters and the Fema first responders,” Trump said.

California’s outgoing and incoming governors, both Democrats and vocal critics of Trump, planned to join the president on his trip to the fire-ravaged region in the north of the state. Governor Jerry Brown and governor-elect Gavin Newsom welcomed Trump’s visit, declaring it was time “to pull together for the people of California”.

The blaze that started 8 November all but razed the town of Paradise, population 27,000, and heavily damaged the outlying communities of Magalia and Concow. It destroyed more than 9,800 homes and at its height displaced 52,000 people.

This patch of California, a former Gold Rush region in the Sierra Nevada foothills, is to some extent Trump country, with Trump beating Hillary Clinton in Butte County by 4 percentage points in 2016.

But Trump has stirred resentment among survivors with his comments.

“If you insult people, then you go visit them, how do you think you’re going to be accepted? You’re not going to have a parade,” Maggie Crowder of Magalia said this week outside an informal shelter at a Walmart store in Chico.

But Stacy Lazzarino, who voted for Trump, said it would be good for the president to see the devastation up close: “I think by maybe seeing it he’s going to be like ‘Oh, my goodness,’ and it might start opening people’s eyes.”

Authorities attribute the death toll in part to the speed with which flames raced through the town of 27,000, driven by wind and fueled by desiccated scrub and trees.

Nearly 12,000 homes and buildings burned hours after the blaze erupted, the California department of forestry and fire protection said. Thousands of additional structures are still threatened as firefighters, many from distant states, work to contain and suppress the flames.

The big rise in the number of missing is because of a detailed review of emergency calls and missing people reports, and the extension of the search for victims.

More than 5,500 fire personnel are still battling the blaze that covered 228 square miles (590 sq km) and was 50% contained, officials said.

Firefighters were racing against time with a red flag warning issued for Saturday night into Sunday, including winds up to 50mph (80km/h) and low humidity. Rain was forecast for midweek, which could help firefighters but also complicate the challenging search for remains.

Officials acknowledge that the huge number of missing could easily contain duplicate names and unreliable spellings of names. The roster also probably includes many people who fled the blaze and do not realize they have been reported missing.

[The Guardian]

Trump disputes federal climate report’s findings, says he hasn’t seen it

President Trump disputed a recent federal government report’s conclusion that human activity is the dominant cause of climate change, but also said he has not seen the report.

In an interview released Sunday, Jim VandeHei and Jonathan Swan of Axios asked Trump to respond to the Climate Science Special Report, a multi-agency report released last year that concluded there is “no convincing alternative explanation” for global warming of recent decades other than that the “dominant” cause is human activity, mainly via greenhouse gas emissions.

Trump said humans contribute to warming, but not to the degree described in the report, whose authors come from agencies like NASA and the Energy Department.

“I want everybody to report whatever they want. But ultimately, I’m the one that makes that final decision,” he told VandeHei and Swan. “I can also give you reports where people very much dispute that. You know, you do have scientists that very much dispute it.”

Trump also repeated his prediction, first outlined last month, that the climate will “change back” and that the current warming will reverse. He did not provide evidence for the claim.

“Is there climate change? Yeah. Will it go back like this, I mean, will it change back? Probably, that’s what I think,” he said, making a wave motion with his hand.

“We do have an impact, but I don’t believe the impact is nearly what some say, and other scientists that dispute those findings very strongly.”

Asked if Trump would order federal agencies to include the views of those who dispute the report’s findings, the president said of the report, “I haven’t seen that.”

The 2017 government report said about 92 percent of global warming is due to human activity.

The report aligns closely with the scientific consensus of recent years that humans are the overwhelming cause of climate change.

[The Hill]

Trump threatens to pull federal funds for Calif. wildfires over forest ‘mismanagement’

With major wildfires still roaring out of control in California, President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to blame “gross mismanagement of the forest” for the catastrophe and threatened to withhold federal funds if the issue is not remedied.

It was his first tweet on the wildfires, now among the deadliest and most destructive in California history, although he earlier issued an emergency declaration providing federal funds for Butte, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

At least nine people have been killed and the entire town of Paradise, in northern California has been destroyed.

“There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” Trump tweeted. “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”

His latest remarks were reminiscent of his tweets during another major outbreak of fires in California in August, when he blamed the wildfires on “bad environmental laws” and his claim that water from the north was “foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean.”

In that tweet burst, Trump also said California wildfires “are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized.”

At the time, The New York times noted a debate over the allocation of water for irrigation or fish habitat but none regarding water purportedly being diverted into the ocean.

The Times quoted Cal Fire officials as saying there is no shortage of water for fighting fires. Helicopters collect water from lakes and ponds to douse wildfires and have plenty at hand, they said.

Asked about that the president’s tweeted claim of water diversion, a spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown, Evan Westrup, told the Times in an email, “Your guess is as good as mine.”

The presidents of two professional firefighters associations have denounced President Donald Trump’s assertion that “gross mismanagement of the forests” is to blame.

California Professional Firefighters president Brian Rice called the President’s words “ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning” in a written statement.

Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, said the comments were “reckless and insulting.”

“Moreover, nearly 60 percent of California forests are under federal management, and another two-thirds under private control. It is the federal government that has chosen to divert resources away from forest management, not California.”

The Trump tweet also prompted some harsh criticism from singer Katy Perry, a native Californian, who called his remarks “heartless.”

“This is an absolutely heartless response,” she tweeted. “There aren’t even politics involved. Just good American families losing their homes as you tweet, evacuating into shelters.”

Singer-songwriter John Legend, who lives in Los Angeles, also weighed in, tweeting, “Our National Embarrassment can’t bring himself to show some empathy to Californians dealing with a horrific disaster.”

Trump’s bizarre ‘cleanest air’ argument for ignoring climate change

The White House’s release last Friday of a report detailing the expected effects of climate change didn’t exactly get buried in the way the administration may have hoped. In the days since its release, news outlets have dug into the extensive document, identifying the scale of threat posed by the warming climate and, unavoidably, noting the tension between its forecasts and the indifference of President Trump.

Both he and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders were asked about the report Monday.

Sanders, conducting her fourth daily news briefing since the end of August, was asked why Trump didn’t feel a responsibility to protect the environment.

“Well, the president’s certainly leading on what matters most in this process, and that’s on having clean air, clean water. In fact, the United States continues to be a leader on that front,” she said, later adding, “The biggest thing that we can do is focus on how to make sure we have the cleanest air, the cleanest water, and the president is certainly doing that and certainly leading on that front.”

In an interview with The Washington Post, Trump reiterated that argument.

“You look at our air and our water and it’s right now at a record clean,” he said. “But when you look at China and you look at parts of Asia and when you look at South America, and when you look at many other places in this world, including Russia, including — just many other places — the air is incredibly dirty. And when you’re talking about an atmosphere, oceans are very small. And it blows over and it sails over.”

This appears to be the line, then: We don’t need to address climate change because we are focused on preserving our “record clean” air and water.

So let’s evaluate that.

During his interview with The Post, Trump claimed to be one of a group of people who “have very high levels of intelligence, but we’re not necessarily such believers.” On the campaign trail, Trump used to offer a different set of credentials to deny the existence of global warming: his shelf covered with awards for his environmental consciousness.

“By the way, I won so many environmental awards, shockingly. No, it’s true,” Trump said during a speech in December 2015.

It wasn’t true, it seemed. Our fact-checkers dug into the claim, finding one award given to one of his golf clubs in 2007 and another given in appreciation after he donated land to Westchester County that he was blocked from turning into a golf course.

In that speech in 2015, Trump continued to make the case for how he would focus his environmentalist energies.

“And you know what I want to do? I want really immaculate air. I want clean, crystal water,” he said. “I want a lot of things. Okay? I want a lot of things.”

That was his refrain for months. We want clean air. We want clean water. Often, the ante would be upped: We want the cleanest air. We want the cleanest water.

A month or two ago, somewhat suddenly, Trump started declaring that particular mission accomplished.

“We withdrew the United States from the job-killing, income-killing Paris climate accord. That was costing our country,” Trump said in September. “And we have the cleanest air now in the world. We have the cleanest water. Remember this. I’m an environmentalist. I want crystal-clean water. I want crystal-clean air.”

Talking about hurricanes in October, Trump said: “I live in Florida to a large extent and spend a lot of time in Florida, and we had a period of time where we went years without having any major problem. And then you have a problem and it goes in cycles, and I want absolutely crystal-clear water and I want the cleanest air on the planet and our air now is cleaner than it’s ever been.”

A month ago, there was this celebratory tweet.

As is often the case with the medium-quality infographics Trump shares on social media, this one is incorrect. It uses one metric for air cleanliness — the density of fine particulate matter in the air — and asserts that the United States’ air is the cleanest by that metric, according to the World Health Organization.

But the WHO’s data show that the United States’ air isn’t the cleanest on that metric. In North America, Canada’s air has lower levels of that size of particulates. So does the air in Estonia, Finland and Iceland in Europe. And in Brunei and Australia. On this one metric, the United States’ air is relatively clean, but it’s not the cleanest.

Trump may have been pointing to a news release from the Environmental Protection Agency this year touting the cleanliness of the air, but that report didn’t compare the United States to other countries and, ironically, showed an increase in particulates last year.

The improvements the country has experienced since the 1970s, of course, are heavily a function of the Clean Air Act, a bill that Trump not only isn’t responsible for but that his administration has worked to weaken.

There are plenty of other metrics that could be used to measure air quality — other particulates, ozone, sulfides, nitrates. But none of those is related to the looming problem of climate change, which stems largely from the release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. Saying that you’re addressing environmental problems by ensuring clean air while ignoring greenhouse gas emissions is like saying that you cook only healthy food, pointing at the lack of food-poisoning complaints but ignoring that your meals all contain 400 percent of the daily recommended allotments of fat and salt.

Trump’s assessment of what “environmentalism” entails is, like many other aspects of his political understanding, rooted in an archaic, pre-1990s sense of the term. The environmental challenge faced by President Richard Nixon was dense smog choking U.S. cities, like producing food laced with salmonella to continue the analogy above. Nixon oversaw the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Over time, the more significant threat of climate change has become obvious — but less tangibly. That affords more political leeway to ignore the problem should one seek to do so.

Trump seeks to do so, and has a new, odd talking point he deploys to that end.

[Washington Post]

Trump: My ‘Natural Instinct for Science’ Tells Me Climate Science Is Wrong

Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which encompasses the consensus finding of climate scientists worldwide, issued a report warning that the effects of climate change may become irreversible by 2040. But since this conclusion implies the need for government action of some kind, and thus threatens a core tenet of conservative movement theology, Republicans ignore or dismiss the findings. Asked by Lesley Stahl about the report, Trump accordingly dismissed it, “You’d have to show me the scientists because they have a very big political agenda.”

But you know who doesn’t have a big political agenda, according to Donald Trump? Donald Trump. The president of the United States styles himself as a man of science, willing to follow the facts wherever they go. In yet another of his current spate of lunatic ramblings he has decided to share with various media, this time the Associated Press, Trump was asked about the report again, and gave an even crazier response.

Trump asserted that, contrary to the scientific conclusion that pumping heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere has caused an upward ratcheting of temperatures, he sees it as random unexplainable variation: “I agree the climate changes, but it goes back and forth, back and forth.” When the interviewer noted that scientists have concluded otherwise, Trump asserted his own scientific credentials.

“My uncle was a great professor at MIT for many years. Dr. John Trump,” he said. “And I didn’t talk to him about this particular subject, but I have a natural instinct for science, and I will say that you have scientists on both sides of the picture.”

So Trump’s claim to scientific competence rests on his belief that science is a matter of instinct, and this instinct is passed on genetically, as evidenced by his uncle. Those lucky few possessed of this gift can look at two competing hypotheses and know which one is correct, without needing to study the evidence, or even having a clear understanding of what “evidence” means. Trump has luckily inherited this instinct, along with some $400 million in untaxed gifts from his father.

Now, a scientist might reply that science is not a matter of instinct at all but a body of knowledge amassed through experimentation and study. They could even design studies testing the hypothesis that individuals possess a scientific “instinct” that renders actual knowledge of scientific conclusions unnecessary. But Trump would surely just respond that those scientists have a political agenda, and his instinct, acquired via his uncle, concludes those studies are fake.

[New York Magazine]

Trump No Longer Thinks Climate Change is a Hoax, Still Not Sure It’s Manmade

During an interview with CBS’s Lesley Stahl on Sunday that aired on 60 Minutes, President Donald Trump backed off his claim that climate change is a hoax but made it clear he was not ready to say it was indeed manmade.

“I think something’s happening. Something’s changing and it’ll change back again,” Trump said. “I don’t think it’s a hoax. I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s manmade. I will say this: I don’t want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs.”

At one point Stahl noted it would be remarkable if all the recent weather emergencies may change his mind.

“You know, I– I was thinking what if he said, ‘No, I’ve seen the hurricane situations, I’ve changed my mind. There really is climate change.’ And I thought, ‘Wow, what an impact,’” Stahl said.

Trump replied: I’m not denying climate change. But it could very well go back. You know, we’re talkin’ about over millions of years. They say that we had hurricanes that were far worse than what we just had with Michael.”

Stahl, who suggested Trump really was denying it, then asked him to pin down when he says, “they say.”

“People say,” Trump replied, before casting doubt on scientists’ agendas.

“You’d have to show me the scientists because they have a very big political agenda, Lesley,” the president said.

[Mediaite]

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