Trump’s America Is Exceptionally Isolated Against the World

Once upon a time America was an exceptional nation for myriad reasons in spite of its tendency toward imperialism and waging war, but that all drastically changed the day of Trump’s poorly-attended inauguration. It is true that America’s exceptionalism suffered during the Obama Administration, but it was due to Republican opposition to basic human and constitutional rights for American citizens; enough opposition that the United Nations Human Rights Council condemned the United States several times for its mistreatment of the poor and minorities. Now, America can claim it is exceptional among all the world’s nations as the only country on Earth to oppose the global effort to combat climate change.

It was a big deal that a nation devastated by civil war signed on to the Paris Climate Accord this week because it appeared to be a barely functioning government. Still, Syria did what every other country on the planet, except America, did and joined the climate change battle likely because a fair amount of Syria’s woes are a direct result of global warming. Of course there is no part of America that hasn’t been adversely affected by anthropogenic climate change; a fact a recent “Climate Report” cited as a reason to take immediate action. But Trump and company refuse to accept the empirical data showing that it will take a concerted global effort to save the climate for future generations and in fact refuse to acknowledge that the climate is changing for the worse.

With Syria announcing at the COP23 climate summit that it was joining the global effort to combat climate change, Trump’s “America First” mantra means that America is alone, an outlier, and an anomaly among the “family of nations,” and not in a good way.

The Syrian announcement incited Sierra Club Executive Director Michal Brune to state:

As if it wasn’t already crystal clear, every single other country in the world is moving forward together to tackle the climate crisis, while Donald Trump has isolated the United States on the world stage in an embarrassing and dangerous position.”

The World Resources Institute released a statement saying that with Syria on board, “the entire world is resolutely committed to advancing climate action – all save one country.This should make the Trump administration pause and reflect on their ill-advised announcement about withdrawing from the Paris Agreement.”

Not only is the Trump fossil fuel administration not “pausing or reflecting;” it is moving forward with what has to be the most ignorant, and humiliating, plan at the COP23 summit in Bonn Germany. The summit is intended to allow nearly 200 delegates from nations involved in the Paris Climate Accord to work out “exactly how best to implement the agreement and stop a future full of weather extremes” that are devastating populations and economies.

America will have competing delegations at the COP23 summit with opposing purposes. One “unofficial” delegation is comprised of governors, business groups, and corporate heads intent on ignoring Trump and working in concert with the rest of the world to combat the warming climate. The other delegation is the “official” representative of the Trump fossil fuel cabal and they are going to propose a climate change solution that flies in the face of science and the intent of the rest of the Earth’s leaders advancing the goals of the Paris agreement.

It is difficult to comprehend from any perspective, but the Trump delegation will argue vehemently to the world’s leaders that burning more coal is the only way to “solve climate change.” Remember, Trump and his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Energy Secretary claim that not only is climate change a hoax, but that carbon emissions have no impact on the climate. Of course their assertion is contrary to the just-released congressional-mandated “Climate Report” that states categorically:

Based on extensive evidence, human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. There is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

In what will certainly set America apart from the rest of the planet as “exceptional,” it is reported that a Trump advisor representing “several members of the fossil fuel industry, including coal-giant Peabody Energy,” will stand up in front of the world’s representatives and “tout the benefits of burning coal” as a solution to global climate change. This will occur even as the rest of the world seeks ways to reduce emissions from coal-fired generating plants that are the primary source of carbon emissions driving global warming. As noted over at IFLScience, Trump‘s fossil fuel contingent will present a mountain of “alternative facts” as if they are addressing ignorant Fox News and Breitbart viewers.

As reported in BBC News, the rest of the world’s leaders at the CPO23 summit were already angry that while the rest of the civilized, and hardly civilized, world is meeting to conspire how best to stop carbon emissions, Trump’s “official” delegation is coming with “fake news” in hand to promote more coal, and more global warming emissions. The director of the International Institute for the Environment and Development, Andrew Norton, expressed the sentiments of the rest of the world at the news Trump was sending the coal industry to argue that burning more carbon emitting coal will solve climate change. He said:

Fossil fuels having any role in tackling climate change is beyond absurd. It is dangerous. These talks are not the place for pushing the fossil fuel agenda. The US needs to come back to the table and help with the rapid cuts in emissions that the situation demands.

A perennial participant in climate change talks, Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, weighed in and rightly expressed the real reason Trump even sent his fossil fuel contingent to argue that more carbon emissions will solve climate change. Mr. Meyer said:

It’s not a credible solution, but that doesn’t seem to bother them. They might even welcome some of the reaction to show to their base that they are fighting for America’s interest and not this globalist malarkey.”

Meyer is right, of course Trump and his coal cabal will play up the “us against the world” sentiment despite America is now an outlier and increasingly a bastard in the family of nations. It is also no part of nations that regard their populations’ health and well-being or accept mountains of empirical scientific data screaming that a concerted global effort is needed to prevent a global catastrophe.

American exceptionalism used to be something to be proud of, but that officially ended the day of Trump’s poorly-attended inauguration. To be exceptional as the only nation on Earth “institutionalizing climate change denial” as official government policy when every other nation on the planet is joining a global effort to combat climate change is humiliating and dangerous. Trump’s idea of America first means America is alone and isolated; now it is an honest-to-dog existential threat to the planet.

Climate Report Release Is A Trump F*ck You to the World

A few months ago there was an “exhaustive scientific report” about the state of the climate allegedly leaked to the media to prevent the Trump administration from burying it because it contradicted his assertion that climate change is a Chinese hoax to hurt America. On Friday, the White House actually approved the report mandated by Congress for release and it literally destroys everything Trump and EPA chief Scott Pruitt claim about global warming; specifically that humans have no impact on the climate.

According to “several White House officials,” Trump was “hardly aware of the report’s existence” and it was left to Trump’s National Economic Council director, Gary D. Cohn, to approve the report for release. Cohn was concerned that blocking the report’s release would create a firestorm and might be a distraction from the GOP’s crusade to explode the deficit, rape the poor and infirm, and hand over the treasury to the rich and corporations; what Republicans are calling “tax reform.”

The report was conducted by 13 federal agencies and concluded “humans are the dominant cause of global temperature rise that has created the warmest period in the history of civilization.” Trump claims those agencies and the scientists responsible for the report are lying because he saw it snowing on television. Although the “official” stance of the White House resisted calling the report part of the notorious “Chinese hoax,” or that there is snow falling someplace on the planet, it did put out a statement undercutting the “high level of confidence” the 13 federal agencies and hundreds of scientists’ had based on mountains of empirical evidence.

A White House spokesman, Rah Shah, issued a statement saying:

The climate has changed and is always changing. As the Climate Science Special Report states, the magnitude of future climate change depends significantly on ‘remaining uncertainty in the sensitivity of Earth’s climate’ to greenhouse gas emissions.”

Mr. Shah must be hewing closely to the White House requirement for employment that bald-faced lying is official policy.  There was no “uncertainty” in the scientists’ minds and in fact, they stated that human activity related to “greenhouse gas emissions” are the only reason for the “record-breaking weather events and temperature extremes.”

In fact, the report states “unambiguously” that “there is no alternative explanation that anything other than humans – the cars we drive, the power plants we operate, and the forests we destroy are to blame. Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change.”

However, there is a 14th Century anti-science religious administration certain that there is no such thing as “scientific consensus on the anthropogenic climate change in the report.” It is why the Scott Pruitt-run Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is still banning the few scientists still with the agency from “presenting any scientific reports on the climate.” Pruitt is also still erasing any and all references to climate change from the EPA website.  The EPA administrator, evangelical Scott Pruitt, still preaches that carbon dioxide emission are not now and never have contributed to global climate change, and Energy Department secretary Rick Perry argued vehemently on Wednesday past that “the science is out” on whether human beings cause climate change.

The hundreds of scientists at the 13 federal agencies compiling the empirical data that human activity is the only cause of the warming climate disagree with Trump’s fossil fuel funded puppets. A professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University, Michael E. Mann disputes everything Trump’s anti-science cohorts claim saying:

This new report simply confirms what we already knew. Human-caused climate change isn’t just a theory, it’s reality. Whether we’re talking about unprecedented heat waves, increasingly destructive hurricanes, epic drought and inundation of our coastal cities, the impacts of climate change are no longer subtle. They are upon us. That’s the consensus of our best scientists, as laid bare by this latest report.

It is noteworthy that “this latest report” reveals that:

Every part of the United States has been touched by warming, from droughts in the Southeast to flooding in the Midwest to a worrying rise in air and ground temperatures in Alaska; and conditions will continue to worsen. The frequency and intensity of extreme high temperature events are virtually certain to increase in the future as global temperature increases. Extreme precipitation events will continue to increase in frequency and intensity throughout most of the world.”

The effects of global warming has already been “bad enough” that climate change-related severe weather events had already cost the United States over $1.1 trillion at the time the multi-year report was compiled. And that is noteworthy because the report was still being prepared for publishing a year before the recent spate of severe hurricanes, massive flooding, and horrific wildfires in America. There is no “confusion” or “debate” among sane human beings that climate change is a clear present and future danger or that man is not responsible.

The hundreds of scientists responsible for the report belabor the point saying:

This assessment concludes, based on extensive evidence, that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”

It is unclear where in the report Trump’s people found any ambiguity or uncertainty, especially in light of the recent weather events climatologists have warned about for decades have developed precisely as predicted. No reasonably intelligent American should be confused about what it means that someone in Trump’s immediate circle “allowed” the report mandated by the United States Congress to be released. They have no intention of heeding the dire warnings no matter the danger to the national security, economy, the population’s health or the environment. Maybe if Trump and the GOP donor class profited from addressing climate change, there would be a concerted effort to join the rest of the world’s effort on the climate.

America under Trump, and Republicans particularly, is losing whatever leadership role it had in the world and this archaic and vehement opposition to science is allowing other nations, especially China and the European Union, to be the dominant economic and technological leaders going forward. In remarking on Trump’s climate denial idiocy, the director of Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, Christopher Field said:

This profoundly affects our ability to be leaders in developing new technologies and understanding how to build successful communities and businesses in the 21st Century. Choosing to be dumb about our relationship with the natural world is choosing to be behind the eight ball.”

America chose to be dumb when it allowed a corrupt imbecile and Republican barbarians with their religious racist supporters to run the country right into the ground. This country’s ability to be leaders in anything suffered a fatal blow with Trump’s ascendancy and the proof is that despite a major multi-agency scientific report contradicting everything his environmental policies are based on; Trump still says there is no climate change because it’s snowing someplace on Earth.

In allowing the report’s release and still refusing to acknowledge the reality of climate change Trump is giving a big “fuck you” to national security, scientific research, America’s global leadership, and the health and welfare of the American people; exactly as he’s done since the day of his poorly-attended inauguration.

Pruitt’s Clean Power Repeal Means Death for Americans

Shortly after Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, scientists at several federal agencies said they were told they can no longer speak to the media or use social media because the new administration rejects science – they claim it hurts Republicans’ fossil fuel donors.  Over at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), staffers were notified that going forward any scientific work would have to be reviewed by fossil fuel advocates appointed by Republican politicians to stop scientists’ attacks on the dirty energy industry.

Yesterday, the Republican whose prior claim to fame was thwarting the EPA by keeping the agency tied up in the courts ignored science the EPA depends on to protect Americans. In fact Scott Pruitt boasted often that he was “the leading advocate against the EPA,” but because he still doesn’t have the authority to unilaterally destroy the agency he runs, he used his position to repeal the agency’s Clean Power Plan to put a rapid end to the critical effort of reducing carbon emissions. Remember, the mission of the EPA is “protecting human health and the environment by issuing regulations and enforcing the nation’s environmental laws.” Scott Pruitt rejects the concept of protecting human health and the environment because he is a shill for the fossil fuel industry.

Pruitt went to Kentucky on Monday and proudly announced that as the man tasked with protecting the nation’s environment, he is unilaterally repealing the Clean Power Plan – because it was founded on science and created to protect the nation’s environment and not the Koch brothers’ wealth. The Clean Power Plan was also put in place to protect current and future Americans by aiding the effort to reduce the effects of anthropogenic climate change Trump says is a Chinese hoax. Trump claims the preponderance of atmospheric and oceanic scientists are lying about global warming because he saw snow falling someplace.

Pruitt’s action is just one of the reasons why the fossil fuel industry contributes millions to elect Republicans, and as expected their dirty investments are paying off.  The Koch brothers, in particular, have called for abolishing the EPA for well over 30 years and no doubt they are getting antsy to see the agency abolished. Now that they are co-owners of the government with the religious right, their prayers to the fossil fuel gods are being answered by a dyed-in-the-wool evangelical whose fealty to fossil fuels rivals his devotion to evangelical radicalism.

Pruitt claims his action will end the “war on coal” and the industry will explode. But as the industry has admitted often as of late, nothing Trump or Pruitt does will halt the “decline of coal” or create jobs that have been replaced by mechanization. Coal’s decline is also evident according to the explosion in green energy jobs and cheaper electrical generating costs as more utilities and states have shifted to cheaper and cleaner wind, natural gas, and solar to save money. Many states are going forward with targets set by the Clean Power Plan because of the health and cost benefits of not using dirty coal-fired electricity generating plants. Coal is responsible for “about one-third of America’s carbon dioxide emissions.”

Pruitt and Trump both lie profusely that their attacks on the EPA and advocacy for dirty fossil fuels is good for America and helps their crusade to protect the people and the environment. However, as former EPA head Gina McCarthy notes:

Pruitt’s proposal does nothing to protect public health and the natural resources we need to survive and thrive. It’s not smart or economically sound. It ignores the investment opportunities and health benefits of our country’s transition to cleaner energy. And it ignores climate change solutions that are plentiful, less expensive than traditional fossil fuels and producing jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.”

Colorado’s Governor, John Hickenlooper noted that his state is already surpassing their goals with jobs and a cleaner environment after “closing coal plants and developing wind and other renewables.” He added: “We have dramatically cleaner air and we are saving money. My question to [the Pruitt] E.P.A. would be ‘which part of that don’t you like?’”

This latest environmental abomination comes on the heels of the Department of Energy’s plan to subsidize (give taxpayer dollars) coal plants by “revamping (controlling) electricity markets.” Apparently Republicans do not really advocate for “free markets” if they intend on giving the coal industry taxpayers’ dollars the same way they do the dirty, and filthy rich, oil industry.

The director of the environmental law program at Harvard Law School, Jody Freeman, said that coupled with taxpayer-funded coal subsidies, repealing the Clean Power Plan is a glaring signal that Trump’s administration is  “putting its thumb on the scale in favor of fossil fuels.” Ms. Freeman added:

You see a pretty powerful message. Disavow any effort to control greenhouse gases in the power sector, and instead, intervene in the market to promote coal. It’s a wow!”

It is an expected “wow,” and an abomination for Americans concerned about the damage they see every day from the effects of climate change, or those enjoying cleaner air and water as well as lower electricity bills, or the explosion of well-paying jobs nationwide. According to the EPA’s assessment prior to being run by Pruitt, the Clean Power Plan would prevent about 3,600 premature deaths and 90,000 childhood asthma attacks every year. But Pruitt and Trump could not care less about those statistics; damn the effects of climate change, damn clean air and water, and god damn the American people’s health and welfare.

No matter the economic and health benefits of combatting climate change, Republicans are bound and determined to wipe out those benefits regardless of the adverse effects to the people’s health, climate, and America’s economic well-being. They are also gleefully wiping out any chance of saving the next few generations from the already occurring devastation of global warming because they owe the Koch brothers’ fossil fuel industry a world of favors. They know without the Kochs’ largesse Republicans would not control the government or the ability to negatively impact Americans’ lives; a goal looking more and more like the only reasons the Republican Party exists.

Republican Mayor Condemns Trump For Not Addressing Climate Change

 

It isn’t often that any American hears a Republican call for action to address climate change, but stunningly that is precisely what occurred this past weekend. There is an old proverb, attributed to both England and Ancient Rome that likely informs why a Florida Republican mayor called on Trump to get real about climate change. The proverb, “it’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye” could just as well be “it’s all a Chinese or liberal hoax until millions of people in a hurricane’s path lose everything.”

Just as Hurricane Irma was beginning to wreak havoc on Florida, Miami’s Republican Mayor Tomás Regalado criticized President Donald Trump and his administration for refusing to acknowledge the connection between climate change and more intense and destructive storms. Mr. Regalado told the Miami Herald:

This is the time to talk about climate change. This is the time that the president Trump and the EPA and whoever makes decisions needs to talk about climate change. If this isn’t climate change, I don’t know what is. This is a truly, truly poster child for what is to come.”

Regalado is right, of course. Just as climatologists and climate scientists have predicted for decades, the intensity and ferocity of weather events going forward will be monstrous and wreak damage never before seen. It is a sad fact of science that no matter what the industrialized nations of the Earth do to stop emitting carbon-related emissions into the atmosphere, the horrific effects of climate change will get increasingly worse, likely for decades, before there is any improvement or normalization of Earth’s climate. However, that long-term forecast of increased devastation is no reason not to take immediate steps for the future of mankind, and America’s security and safety.

Going back decades, scientists have warned incessantly that one of the effects of anthropogenic global climate change is a monumental increase in the intensity of hurricanes. Joe Romm detailed a few of the ways climate change “intensifies hurricanes” regarding the devastation in Texas as the result of Hurricane Harvey.  However, despite personally seeing what climate scientists have predicted come to pass exactly as described, a fair number of Republicans still claim “it’s a hoax,” or that the science is inconclusive; even as mainly Republican states have been decimated by historically-severe natural disasters caused by climate change.

Likely, many Americans errantly believed at some point even Republicans would comprehend that everything climate scientists predicted is coming true after witnessing it for themselves, but of course they were mistaken.

Trump and most of his administration reject, out of hand, the scientific unanimity on climate change, or that it has an “empowering” effect on the intensity of severe weather like the hurricanes ravaging the Eastern seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico. Trump and his underlings proved their concerted rejection of science immediately on taking office and launched a crusade to roll back and eliminate domestic and international climate policies.

Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) run by fossil fuel puppet Scott Pruitt  has repeatedly dismissed or distorted widely accepted climate science, as well as rejecting climate scientists’ efforts to connect Hurricane Harvey’s extreme impact to global warming. The Pruitt-led EPA’s spokeswoman, Liz Bowman, said that now is not the time to talk about climate change or attempt to connect the severity of the hurricanes to it. Bowman said:

EPA is focused on the safety of those affected by Hurricane Harvey and providing emergency response support — not engaging in attempts to politicize an ongoing tragedy.

Trump’s anti-environment EPA chief went farther and actually condemned anyone who dared discuss the cause of the horrific life-ending storms. He said that it is being insensitive to Floridians, but not Texans, to even consider discussing “the cause and effect of these storms … or to use time and effort to address it at this point is very, very insensitive to the people in Florida.”

As Miami’s Republican mayor rightly asserted, “failing to address the underlying cause will doom major U.S. cities like Miami to keep repeating the same mistakes,” and leave Americans unprepared to cope with ever-worsening natural disasters.

Mr. Regalado knows what he’s talking about regarding “repeating the same mistakes.” South Florida is generally regarded as “ground zero” for the severest impacts of anthropogenic (man-made) climate change. Regalado is particularly concerned about the increasing sea level rise and coastal flooding; especially after “decades of unchecked development.” As Bloomberg News’ Christopher Flavelle reported back in April, “Tidal flooding now predictably drenches inland streets, even when the sun (sic) is out, thanks to the region’s porous limestone bedrock. Saltwater is creeping into the drinking water supply.

That “lesser” effect of climate change, “rising sea levels and higher levels of tidal flooding” has nothing whatsoever to do with the hurricane damages, but it is causing the city of Miami to seek a $400 million “obligation bond.” That bond is crucial to aid the city in repairing and improving the storm drains and pumping system necessary to preserve the city’s water supply and keep seawater at bay. And it is noteworthy that “keeping it at bay” is only temporary until the sea level rises, as predicted, to the point when no amount of money, bonds, or pumps will keep the ocean from inundating the entire region.

There is no better time to talk about the cause of this most recent spate of historically-powerful hurricanes because right now there is a fair amount of focus on their damage in lives and property. One would think that Republicans would see the wisdom in addressing climate change if for no other reason than the outrageous amount of funding necessary in disaster relief. It is also curious why the insurance industry, certainly paying out billions and billions for damaged property, hasn’t yet planted their substantial boots on the Republicans’ throats for pretending nothing untoward is happening.

And it is worth noting to Trump’s anti-environment EPA people that discussing the causes of the monumental damage raging in the hurricanes’ wake is not “politicizing an ongoing tragedy,” or being “very insensitive to the victims.” It is an attempt to avert further tragedies. Until more Republicans follow the lead of Miami’s Republican mayor and berate Trump mercilessly, there are going to be further tragedies of epic proportions and inaction from Washington. And along with historically-severe hurricanes there will be more historical droughts, massive wildfires, melting glaciers, and in the near future the most fertile regions of the continent will face desertification.

Those effects, being witnessed now, are not a Chinese hoax or a liberal plot; they are real and as climate scientists at NASA, NOAA, and research universities around the world have predicted quite explicitly, those effects are only going to get worse. It is just tragic, and unfair, that Trump, Pruitt, the Koch brothers, and the rest of the “fact averse” ideologues will be dead and gone when climate change finally accomplishes what Republicans are busy attempting to do today; decimate America.

As Environmental Disasters Mount Pruitt Cuts Hundreds of EPA Jobs

No-one in their right mind will dispute that natural disasters are horrific while they are occurring and in their immediate aftermath. The flooding resulting from Hurricane Katrina and most recently, Hurricane Harvey bear witness to the post-event damage unfolding in and around the Houston metropolitan area. However, when any natural disaster occurs, the threats of multiple environmental disasters pose a significant threat that demands a robust response from environment protection experts.

It is no great revelation to anyone that one of Trump’s missions as White House occupant is doing the bidding of the fossil fuel industry. Chief among that “bidding” is neutering, and eventually eliminating, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is why, after all, he appointed a sworn enemy of the federal agency, Scott Pruitt, to slash the agency half-to-death and deconstruct environmental regulations he regards as unfriendly to his funders in the fossil fuel industry.

This week, while Texas, and now Florida and possibly Louisiana face environmental disasters as a result of historically monstrous hurricanes predicted by climate scientists, Pruitt proudly announced he is cutting close to 500 EPA jobs. It’s glaringly apparent that it is more important to Pruitt to advance Trump’s deregulatory crusade than adopt an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach to the several environmental disasters still emerging.

In announcing that close to 500 hundred EPA employees are being “pushed out” in a “smaller government” effort, Pruitt boasted about hard-working and long-serving staffers leaving the agency. Pruitt has been pushing for “voluntary buyouts, early retirement and good old fashioned agency budget cuts” as preparation for Trump slashing EPA funding by 31 percent.  Pruitt said in a statement:

We’re proud to report that we’re reducing the size of government, protecting taxpayer dollars and staying true to our core mission of protecting the environment and American jobs.”

Pruitt is probably too much of an imbecile to comprehend how stupid he sounds to sane people when he congratulates himself for “protecting American jobs” at the same time he  announces he’s eliminating nearly 500 American jobs whose core mission is protecting the environment. It is particularly insane sounding that he’s cutting environmental protection jobs even as multiple environmental disasters threaten hundreds of thousands of American citizens in Texas alone. It is far too early in the hurricane season to estimate how many millions of Americans will face environmental disasters after the 150-plus mile-per-hour winds, driving rains, and subsequent flooding will cause. But it will be epic and the environmental disasters in the Houston area are prime examples.

Houston is the undisputed American petro-chemical capital, and the flooding has “triggered a dizzying list of environmental problems.” According to Gizmodo, “at least five toxic Superfund sites were breached by Harvey’s floodwaters,” and that is in addition to several reported oil spills. Of course the floodwaters “distribute” that spilled oil to better damage the surrounding areas.

There was also a chemical plant that housed “large stockpiles” of dangerous organic peroxide that exploded due to massive flooding. And if that isn’t enough environmental damage, health experts have warned that “still-lingering floodwaters” are likely polluted with “anything from weed repellant to animal feces to disease-causing bacteria.” When that polluted floodwater dries up, those pollutants will still remain and it is why having an excess of environmental experts on the scene to assess and coordinate cleanup efforts is crucial to protect the people in the affected area.

But this is Trump’s EPA and despite the damage to the environment, “the EPA’s most noteworthy response” to Hurricane Harvey was attacking an Associated Press journalist because he was covering “the ongoing environmental disaster.”

If these were remotely normal times there would be plenty of advocacy for, and debate about, why having fully-staffed and fully funded federal agencies such as FEMA and the EPA is crucial. But these are far from normal times with increasingly severe weather events wreaking havoc on the country and an administration slashing agencies to death. Now more than ever America needs a robust and fully-staffed EPA and FEMA because they are the only federal agencies created specifically to respond in times of distress.

This is particularly true because, regardless what any fact-averse member of Trump’s administration claims, there will be increasingly devastating natural and environmental disasters due to climate change. Still, Trump’s EPA is staffed at just below Reagan-era levels long before climate change-borne weather events posed the extraordinarily damaging hurricanes ravaging America recently.

Americans affected by the latest natural disasters, and those about to experience climate change’s fury, deserve all the assistance and protection the federal government can muster, and that includes protection from the environmental disasters that will linger long after the winds subside and floodwaters recede.

Image: Rick Bowmer/AP

Trump’s Latest Threat To America’s Leadership

It may not be acknowledged by many Americans, but the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is a critical federal government agency and one that demands its administrator be a “nonpartisan science-based executive.” Going into space, and studying the atmosphere is a scientific endeavor not suitable for an uninformed science denier, particularly one leading NASA.

Naturally, the idiot occupant of the White House has chosen a right-wing extremist and non-scientist to run the NASA because he embraces some positions that Trump admires in his underlings. One of those positions is opposition to science, particularly climate science, and it is one of the primary reasons Trump tapped Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to run NASA.

First, it is important to note that NASA is a huge part of the United States’ climate change research that has aided in proving climate change is as real as the Sun and moon; regardless what Trump or Bridenstine claim. In fact, the Defense Department considers climate change “so real” that they have designated it as a “major threat to national security.” It goes without saying that the DOD relies heavily on climate and atmospheric research conducted by NASA scientists to make a “major national security threat” designation.

Unlike every other NASA administrator before him, Bridenstine is considered an extremely partisan politician void of any scientific credentials whatsoever; and he has no experience in space science. For that reason alone, his choice by Trump was criticized by both Florida Senators Marco Rubio (R) and Bill Nelson (D). Rubio said what the stunned scientific community said after Trump’s announcement:

I just think his nomination could be devastating for the space program.”

For a little additional background on Bridenstine, and the kind of “credentials” that incited Trump to tap him to run NASA, besides being an extremist member of the House Freedom Caucus (teabaggers), he opposes nearly every government program in existence and wants the IRS eliminated; no tax revenue means no government programs. He is also extremely anti-gay, vehemently opposes same-sex marriage, opposes a woman’s right to choose, says climate change is a hoax and opposes any kind of alternative energy sources. It is that background that appeals to Trump as much as his opposition to science.

It seems glaringly obvious that Trump appointed Bridenstine because he is a fellow climate denier to ensure that NASA steers clear of any atmospheric research related to climate change and the weather. He will likely justify choosing Bridenstine because he serves on the House science committee, but serving on a science committee does not make one a space scientist or an authority on much of anything. In fact, Bridenstine has spent as much time criticizing NASA’s research and well-established atmospheric measurements over decades as he has condemning the LGBT community and criticizing marriage equality.

To get an idea of how dangerous it is to have an ignorant climate denier running a federal agency based around science and research, in 2013, Bridenstine gave a speech on the House floor replete with all the typical “denier talking points.” He stated emphatically:

Mr. Speaker, global temperatures stopped rising 10 years ago. Global temperature changes, when they exist, correlate with Sun output and ocean cycles.”

After that outrageous display of ignorance, he ended his “uninformed rant” by demanding that President Barack Obama apologize for funding any research into climate science.

Bridenstine’s remarks, like more than one of Trump’s anti-science underlings, contradict well-established science over decades of research around atmospheric and oceanic measurements; much of it coming from NASA’s own research.

In 2010, a NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) science brief summarized its recent research and explained:

A study by GISS  climate scientists recently published in the journal Science shows that atmospheric CO2 operates as a thermostat to control the temperature of Earth. There is no viable alternative to counteract global warming except through direct human effort to reduce the atmospheric CO2 level.”

NASA’s GISS conclusion in 2010 was reiterated in the upcoming 2018 National Climate Assessment. That scientific report concluded that:

Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change. Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans.”

Thousands of studies conducted by tens of thousands of scientists around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; disappearing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea level; and an increase in atmospheric water vapor. … The last few years have also seen record-breaking climate-related weather extremes, as well as the warmest years on record for the entire globe. There are no alternative explanations to human industrial activity being the cause and no natural cycles are found in the observational record that can explain the observed changes in climate.”

Despite that sobering scientific assessment, much of conducted by NASA, Trump opted for a “scientifically illiterate” sycophant to run NASA – likely right into the dustbin.

John Holdren is an environmental scientist and former White House science advisor for the Office of Science and Technology for eight years. He confirmed what scientists and congressional representatives alike have warned about the danger a non-scientist and climate denier leading NASA poses:

Bridenstine’s stance on climate change reveals him to be a fact-averse, scientifically illiterate ideologue and a danger to NASA’s leadership in space science and Earth science alike.”

It is not just NASA’s leadership that is in jeopardy, everything about American “leadership” has been compromised by Trump and it is no accident that he appoints agency and department heads that hold a worldview contrary to the agencies they are bound and determined to “dismantle.” America under Trump is waning as an economic, trade, diplomatic and scientific research leader and there is plenty of blame to go around. It is important to note that it is not just Trump; Republicans are just as culpable as Trump for quietly acquiescing to his boneheaded style of administration.

Time will tell if they draw a line at a “scientifically illiterate ideologue” running NASA; likely the most science-dependent agency in the federal government.

Trump Dissolves Crucial Climate Panel In Latest Assault on Science

 

 

One of the missions of not-really-departed White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was “dismantling the administrative state;” code for taking apart the government that Trump’s special interests will not tolerate. The Trump administration has been busy issuing executive orders eradicating any part of government their special interests oppose, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the special interests directing Trump’s cabinet are the Koch brothers and big oil. Remember, Trump did not personally vet or select any of his cabinet appointees. That task was assigned to the Heritage Foundation as surrogates for the Kochs who have wanted the federal government “dismantled” since the 1980s, Now they have a rubber stamp in the Oval Office and their Big Oil cohorts have unlimited funds and influence over Trump.

It is no surprise that reports indicate that Trump and his anti-environment Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt “are taking directions from Big Oil.” It is why the agency is purging scientists and actively eliminating regulations and environmental protections that even remotely impact the fossil fuel industry, not just big oil.

By now, only a moron is unaware that despite overwhelming scientific data and decades of research to the contrary, the fossil fuel industry denies climate change exists, or that manmade emissions cause and are exacerbating the condition. Trump claims the whole climate change ‘thing’ is a Chinese hoax. He has also claimed over 50 times that climate change has been thoroughly debunked because there is cold weather someplace on Earth, and he’s seen it.

Over the weekend, the Trump administration, in its devoted service to Big Oil, took another step toward dismantling the administrative state by dissolving a critical, congressionally-mandated, agency because its climate assessment didn’t comport with Trump’s climate denial.

Less than two weeks ago the draft version of the 2018 scientific section of the National Climate Assessment was leaked out of a real fear the Trump and his EPA head would attempt to bury it. Now the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment members will not have to worry about their report being buried; Trump disbanded the “committee.”

The committee’s purpose in the upcoming 2018 report was translating the findings of 13 different federal agencies, over three decades of climate data, and studies conducted by tens-of-thousands of the world’s scientists into the effects of carbon emissions on the warming climate. Those findings were intended to be used to aid policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the federal government’s climate analysis into their long-term infrastructure planning for a broad range of projects from building roads and bridges to maintaining adequate hydroelectric supplies.

Now those public and private officials will have to look elsewhere for guidance because Trump doesn’t believe the National Climate Assessment’s 2018 conclusion that,

There are no alternative explanations to human industrial activity being the cause and no natural cycles are found in the observational record that can explain the observed changes in climate.”

According to the passage of the 1990 law calling for the National Climate Assessment, the “committee’s report” is supposed to be issued on a quadrennial basis, but it has only been released three times since the law was passed. The 2018 version was certain to be a “contentious issue” based on the Trump administration’s animosity toward anything related to science, but especially so because it is climate science.

It is not clear if the already released “draft” will be punished in a finalized form, but there is already nervous concern among officials about the fate of the report at the news the committee is disbanded. However, the communications director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Julie Roberts, said on Saturday that “this action does not impact the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which remains a key priority.

The chair of the 15-member “committee,” Richard Moss, said during an interview on Saturday that ending the group’s work was shortsighted. Moss is a professor in the University of Maryland’s Department of Geographical Sciences and warned of consequences for the decisions state and local authorities tasked with making planning decisions. Mr. Moss said:

It doesn’t seem to be the best course of action. We’re going to be running huge risks here and possibly end up hurting the next generation’s economic prospects.”

Seattle’s mayor Ed Murray said that the move to dissolve the committee represents “an example of the president not leading, and the president stepping away from reality.” Murray shared that from a public utilities standpoint, it is going to be “more difficult” for cities to participate in the climate assessment. On climate change, Trump “has left us all individually to figure it out.

The past chair of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Committee on Adaptation to a Changing Climate, Richard Wright, has been busy “working with the committee to convey the importance of detailed climate projections” in the 2018 assessment. The Civil Engineers’ society is the agency that establishes “guidelines that form the basis of building codes across the country,” and those guidelines are founded on a historical record that may no longer be an accurate predictor of future weather extremes due to the rapid change in Earth’s climate. Mr. Wright said:

We need to work on updating our standards with good estimates on what future weather and climate extremes will be. I think it’s going to be a serious handicap for us that the advisory committee is not functional.

This latest “dismantling” at Trump’s hands is more than just an assault on science or taking apart the government, although it is certainly both of those. And it is much more than just Trump “stepping away from reality or not leading.” It is a well-planned and well-funded effort by Republicans’ special interest donors that will have deleterious effects on the nation, the economy, and the American people for generations. And while it may not be the immediate existential threat of a thermonuclear war, it is a threat that scientists have been warning was coming for several decades. Sadly, now that the the world, and Americans, are seeing and feeling the changing climate’s effects and calling on the government to take action, Trump is going in the opposite direction and disbanded the one agency that may have prevented the worst effects of an impending disaster.

Climate Report Leaked To Prevent Trump From Smothering It

Once upon a time before America was ruled by a superstitious religious cabal reminiscent of 13th Century church attacking purveyors of science, the United States Congress mandated that a National Climate Assessment would be conducted every four years. On Monday last, the New York Times published a copy of the ‘special science section’ of 2018’s draft version of the comprehensive study. The Times felt, as did the scientists who conducted the study, that it was crucial to publish the “leaked copy” of the report because they and the scientists feared the Trump administration and EPA chief Scott Pruitt would “smother it in its crib.

The congressionally-mandated study was conducted by 13 federal government agencies that concluded no matter what dumb Donald or his anti-science EPA director claim, global warming “has had a verifiable impact on the environment.” And, being good scientists, the researchers referenced thousands of studies conducted by tens of thousands of scientists over 30-plus years that documented climate change on land and in the air. The scientists wrote:

Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change.”

The scientists also noted that this is not some kind of future problem. Americans, like the rest of the Earth’s population, are feeling the devastating effects of global climate change right now. The report states:

Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans.”

The lengthy scientific report makes an oft-heard conclusion that even if human beings immediately stopped emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the Earth would still face increased temperatures over the next century. Every 8th grade student learns in junior high school science class that greenhouse gases like CO2 and methane remain in the atmosphere for decades and can take 200 years to eventually dissolve in the oceans. Those eighth-graders also learn that a even a minor global temperature increase as small as .30 degrees Celsius has a monumental effect on the climate that affects the weather. It is noteworthy too that those same 8th graders learn the difference between climate and weather. Unfortunately, the current administration is not nearly as smart as an eighth grader.

As Gizmodo reported, the draft report reflects federal government scientists’ “unshaken and continued belief” that human industrial activity is the primary driver of climate change. Trump is unimpressed with the scientists’ conclusions and still regards the idea of climate change as a hoax perpetrated by China; his proof is that there is cold winter weather and snow, and he’s seen it with his own eyes.

The superstitious Trump has claimed, at least 53 times, that literally thousands of climate scientists conducting decades of research and studies are dead wrong because if there is cold weather anyplace on Earth, then the preponderance of climate science research and study results are automatically “debunked.”

EPA anti-science moron Pruitt believes that human-caused CO2 emissions have had no impact on climate change. It was the two idiots’ opposition to scientific facts that prompted some patriotic scientist to leak the results of the study to the Times. And, it is noteworthy that the NYT sent out a “breaking news” alert directly after reviewing study’s results saying it was “an alarming draft report” on climate change that federal scientists feared would be instantly suppressed by the Trump administration.

The executive summary of the comprehensive report is more alarming than the Times let on and it informs why it was “leaked” to prevent it being buried by the anti-science Trump cabal. It is a blunt pronouncement that Trump or his science-denying EPA chief do not want released to the public because the American people have seen for themselves exactly what the scientists have been, and are currently, warning is the result of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. The summary says:

Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans. Thousands of studies conducted by tens of thousands of scientists around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; disappearing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea level; and an increase in atmospheric water vapor. … The last few years have also seen record-breaking climate-related weather extremes, as well as the warmest years on record for the entire globe.

There are no alternative explanations to human industrial activity being the cause and no natural cycles are found in the observational record that can explain the observed changes in climate.”

Thus far, neither the Trump nor his science-denying EPA director have commented on the release of the report they certainly intended to conceal from the public. However, there is little doubt they will go to great lengths to keep it as far away from the people as possible and begin anew a dastardly crusade to demonize science and scientists as disreputable and un-American.

For this author and anyone concerned about the fate of the future for Earth’s population, whichever scientist(s) did expose the document should be hailed as heroic and their identity kept a carefully guarded secret; especially with a vindictive piece of anti-science work in the White House doing his best to imitate the 14th Century church and punish purveyors of science.

 

Despite Trump’s Denial, Sea Level Rise is Drastically Accelerating

While the rest of the civilized world is frantically taking steps to staunch the existential threat to humanity due to global climate change, America is ignoring one of its most devastating effects that pose a very serious threat to both of its expansive coastlines. It is noteworthy that just one of the primary reasons the rest of the civilized world despises Donald J. Trump is due to his unilateral exit from the Paris Climate Accord; an exit he predicates on the 12th century belief that science is of Satan the Devil.  It doesn’t matter how advanced or developing the rest of the world’s nations are, they understand firsthand how crucial a concerted global effort is to at least slow global warming to save the people;  not the planet. Earth will always repair man’s damage, it just may take a couple of centuries according to scientists.

There was some incredibly bad news for the Earth’s population, especially those living in close proximity to coastal areas, this week that was generally ignored due to the Earth-shattering importance of Donald Trump’s social media activity. Apparently, the American media is well aware that people are too stupid to comprehend something as simple as sea level rise, so they hew closely to bombastic clickbait stories that sell ad space – like Trump’s tweets.

According to a new study in Nature Climate Change, “global sea level rise jumped 50 percent” over the past  15 years; the most recent period that data are available. The study revealed that the alarming and unprecedented melting of Greenland ice sheets is one of the “major new contributors” to sea level rise. In the late 1990s it only accounted for less than 5 percent of sea level rise, but in 2014 it was responsible for well over a quarter of the increase.

If that isn’t bad enough news for the hundreds-of-millions of human beings living in coastal areas, scientists that have been monitoring an enormous iceberg nearly the size of Delaware reported this week it “is poised to detach from one of the largest floating ice shelves in Antarctica and float off into the sea.”

Scientists, including the atmospheric and oceanic professionals under attack by the Trump administration, used satellite measurements and tidal gauges to provide an accurate measure of the impending disaster for the Earth. And it is noteworthy to mention that no part of the Earth has seen the “particularly intense acceleration of sea level rise” more than the United States’ Eastern seaboard.

The study noted that this is particularly dangerous for Virginia and North Carolina where measurements revealed the sea is rising  in those areas “three times more quickly that the worldwide average.” The rise along the East Coast is not all down to melting ice sheets and icebergs though, although it does account for over a quarter of the damage.

Some other contributors are “sinking land masses due to an increase in ground water removal” as a result of severe drought conditions brought on by global climate change and water theft by the fossil fuel industry and big agriculture; both industries that support Republican opposition to battling climate change.

Not that stupid Americans would understand the complexities of ocean currents or how they contribute to weather patterns, climate change and increasingly severe weather events, oceanographers reported that the “water level is higher in those areas than elsewhere.” The scientists also noted that the additional freshwater pouring into the North Atlantic from that Greenland ice melt is “accelerating that dynamic” affecting America’s East Coast. It is worth noting that the East Coast, especially around Virginia and North Carolina, is home to a substantial Naval presence and major shipping ports spanning the entire Eastern seaboard.

A professor of oceanography at Old Dominion University who did not take part in the study or any part of the reporting, Larry Atkinson explained:

This new evidence of accelerating rates is concerning to us as we try to advise local cities and regions on what they’re going to have deal with.”

Although most Americans are ignorant of rudimentary physics, it is worth noting that the greatest factor driving the dangerous rise in sea level is “thermal expansion.” What thermal expansion means in simple terms is that matter at the molecular level changes shape, area, and volume in response to temperature change.   What that means for sea level rise is that as the oceans warm, the sea water takes up more space (expands).

According to “the Fifth Assessment Report” by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that “thermal expansion” of sea water “accounts for up to 55 percent of the global sea level rise.” The melting glaciers and ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica account for up to 35 percent of sea level rise and like expanding oceans, those rapid melting ice sheets are only due to “the Earth’s higher land and water temperatures resulting from anthropogenic climate change.

Regardless what dumb Don Trump says, global climate change is real and it is a result of man pouring greenhouse gases, like methane and carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. Americans living in the proximity of coastal areas can rest assured that when they are forced to relocate due to rising seas that America is as responsible, if not more so, than other industrial nations, except maybe China. However, at least China is moving forward to combat climate change while America with a corrupt clown in the White House pretends it is a joke.

Image: TheInsider

 

Rick Perry Proves He’s Stupider Than a Seventh Grader

It is too bad that there are a significant number of Americans who are stupider than dirt and lack an amoeba’s cognitive ability, or worse wasted taxpayer’s money during their primary school education. One thing every seventh grade student learned in science class is that carbon dioxide is a “greenhouse gas” responsible for trapping heat in the atmosphere; a fundamental fact only a complete idiot would dispute or contradict. Enter a complete idiot the moron in the Oval Office tapped to lead the Energy Department, former Texas governor Rick Perry, who disputed and contradicted a well-established and scientifically measured fact on national television.

Perry, as U.S. Secretary of Energy, was appearing on CNBC News recently and not only displayed less intelligence than a single-called zygote, he “made bizarre statements disputing the underlying foundations of physics and chemistry;” and the fundamentals of climate science. Perry may not be the stupidest of the Trump cabal, but he did his level best to claim that humiliating distinction. Perry was given an easy question any seventh grade student could have answered correctly and promptly revealed why he has no right being in government much less running the Energy Department.

The interviewer asked Perry whether carbon dioxide is primarily responsible for climate change to which he confidently replied:

No. Most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in.”

That response must be a standard line for the oil industry whores in the Trump administration because it is precisely what the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, says often; recently on national television like Perry.

Now, it doesn’t matter whether or not Pruitt, Perry or Trump’s entire idiotic administration disputes the reality of climate change; any greenhouse gas is classified as such for a very good and scientifically proven reason; they trap heat in the atmosphere and trapped heat warms the climate. And, carbon dioxide traps heat very effectively and as noted in IFLScience; “carbon dioxide has a lifetime in the atmosphere of up to 200 years and is unequivocally the primary driver of climate change.”

To address Perry’s remark about the oceans, it is true the world’s oceans are “carbon sinks” and have absorbed so much carbon dioxide that they stopped the Earth’s warming over the past century significantly. But their ability to absorb carbon dioxide is dependent on “not dead” marine life, and cannot physically or possibly absorb all the CO2 being released into the atmosphere; particularly the CO2 from burning fossil fuels. No matter what Perry says, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that man is pouring into the atmosphere and trapping heat, warming the oceans, and creating climate change that drives the severe weather events wreaking havoc on the Earth’s population.

This remark by Perry and Pruitt, a couple of bible-thumpers who believe fairy tales, is beyond reprehensible. Still, because Americans put an idiot moron in the White House, an idiot moron is running the Department of Energy; a position he is as unqualified for as Pruitt is to run the EPA. Remember, Perry at one time wanted to abolish the DoE and had no idea what the Cabinet level job entailed until after he was confirmed.

Perry is also a piece of work for changing his tune on climate action after being appointed to run the DoE. Prior to landing the gig at the DoE, Perry actually hoped, out loud no less, that Trump wouldn’t exit the Paris Climate Agreement. Now Perry has shut down the DoE’s climate change office and became a staunch “evangelist for climate denial.” He also banned any mention of the terms “climate change” and “Paris Agreement” under any circumstances at the Energy Department and rumors are that if Perry should happen to overhear either phrase uttered, he “will have a visceral reaction.

It is apparent that the Trump administration has issued orders to propagandize the American people into believing that carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas and has no impact on hastening the warming climate. It is the only explanation why Rick Perry would make such an easily debunked claim on “live national television.” As Robin Andrews noted at IFLScience, Rick Perry may not be as idiotic as the Pennsylvania state senator who claimedhuman body heat” is driving climate change,  but he is very close. Sadly for America, the population is just stupid enough that if the Trump team continues saying something loud and often enough, it doesn’t matter how absurd the claims, people will believe it – unless they successfully completed the seventh grade.