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.

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.

 

Trump Taps Science Skeptic to Oversee Scientific Integrity at USDA

Most human beings in a technologically advanced nation would expect the people in charge of specific agencies to have an extraordinarily high level of expertise related to the job they hold.  No-one in their right mind would expect an expert grave digger to be chosen to lead the Centers for Disease Control, or an avowed pacifist picked to run the Department of Defense, but these are strange times in America and “right minded” does not apply to anyone running the government.

In keeping with his practice of appointing people with no expertise whatsoever in the departments and agencies they intend to lead, Trump picked an avowed science skeptic, Sam Clovis, for the number two position at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). According to the 2008 farm bill, the USDA undersecretary serves as the agency’s “chief scientist” and it specifies that any appointee to the post should be chosen “from among distinguished scientists with specialized training or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics.” That 2008 farm bill also makes special note that the undersecretary is “responsible for the coordination of the scientific research, education, and extension activities of the Department.”

In past administrations, going back long before the 2008 farm bill’s specifications, the undersecretary post has been occupied by a “string of individuals with advanced degrees in science or medicine.” Obviously, Trump choosing a science skeptic to oversee and coordinate scientific research is his idea of what it takes to “make America great.”

Naturally, Trump taps a science skeptic who was an ultra right-wing teabagger talk show host and worked as an “advisor to Trump on all things Russia during the presidential campaign.” Sam Clovis, the science-skeptic is the Trump advisor who brought Carter Page into the Trump campaign after a typical Trump-approved vetting; a quick Google search. Page is just one of Trump’s cohorts under investigation by the FBI. But that’s another story unrelated to Clovis’ gross lack of qualifications to pick fruit, much less be undersecretary and “chief scientist” at the USDA responsible for ensuring there is “scientific integrity” at the agency.

The former USDA undersecretary, Catherine Woteki, an acclaimed nutrition scientist explained why the 2008 farm bill required a “distinguished scientist with specialized training” to fill the USDA undersecretary position. Ms. Woteki said:

There’s a huge amount of science that goes into the setting up of the programs, implementation of various policies, and the chief scientist role is to coordinate those policies across the entire department and to represent agricultural science in the decision making that goes on with other departments and is coordinated with the White House science office.”

Clovis should fit right in with Trump’s administration and especially with the Agriculture Department Secretary, Sonny Perdue, who labeled mainstream climate science “so ridiculous and so obviously disconnected from reality.” Not far from Perdue’s appraisal of climate science, Clovis just doesn’t accept climate science as “a thing” and considers himself to be “extremely skeptical.”

Clovis’ qualifications to be the USDA’s chief scientist and ensure scientific integrity at the agency is serving 25 years in the Air Force, teaching college economics for ten years, and running a right-wing talk show. He has “no background in any hard science or in agriculture” and has not “published any work in peer-reviewed scientific or agricultural journals.” But he did work for Trump’s campaign advising him on all things Russia, including the aforementioned recruiting Carter Page.

It is easy to imagine what Clovis will bring to the position when, not if, he is confirmed by the anti-science Republican Senate, but an informed voice, Jessica Huseman at ProPublica, provided a fair estimation of what Clovis will do as “chief scientist” at the USDA.

Ms. Huseman reported that last October when Clovis represented the Trump campaign at the Farm Foundation Forum he told E&E News that the Trump administration is not interested in the impact of climate change on American agriculture. Instead, they will be focusing all their energies on eliminating regulations and boosting trade. As an aside, the American agriculture industry is already suffering trade losses due to the Trump administration’s so-called trade expertise and no amount of deregulation will convince our foreign trading partners to engage with America again; especially with agricultural products.

Trump is bound and determined to put the least qualified human beings in charge of the most important federal agencies whether it was an anti-public school evangelical to run the Department of Education or an anti-environmental protection champion to run the Environmental Protection Agency or an anti-civil rights advocate to run the Department of Justice. Trump seeks out the least qualified people in America to lead important departments and it is just another sign that he has no kind of business acumen. No accomplished and successful business man would ever hire unqualified people to perform even menial tasks, much less to lead a department.

More than incompetence, Trump’s choice of Clovis, like Perdue, is another signal that this administration is Hell bent on attacking science reminiscent of the Dark Age Catholic Church. With Trump in the White House and Republicans controlling all three branches of government, these are the dark ages for America, and dark times for science and research.

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