Trump Dismisses UN Report That Sounds Climate Change Alarm; Trump's Supreme Court Writes Off the Planet's Future
October 11, 2018 Lydia O'Connor / The Huffington Post & Chris D'Angelo / The Huffington Post & Jay Michaelson / The Daily Beast
Donald Trump sounded skeptical about the United Nation's dire new report on the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change, telling reporters that he wants to look into those who crafted it. Trump said the report "was given to me. And I want to look at who drew it" (appearing to mistake the report for a children's coloring book).
"We Are Doomed," Jimmy Kimmel Live. October 9, 2018
Donald Trump Casts Doubt On
New UN Report That Sounds Climate Change Alarm Some reports are "fabulous" and some
"aren't so good," Trump said Lydia O'Connor / The Huffington Post
"A day after the United Nations issued its most urgent call to arms yet for the world to confront the threat of climate change, President Trump boarded Air Force One for Florida a state that lies directly in the path of this coming calamity -- and said nothing about it."
-- The New York Times, October 8, 2018
(October 10, 2018) -- President Donald Trump sounded skeptical about the United Nation's dire new report on the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change, telling reporters that he wants to look into those who crafted it.
The report "was given to me. And I want to look at who drew it. You know, which group drew it," Trump said on the White House's South Lawn.
Released Sunday, the report warned that the world is rapidly running out of time to scale back greenhouse gas emissions before catastrophic planetary changes occur.
"I can give you reports that are fabulous and I can give you reports that aren't so good," Trump said.
Although he didn't specify which reports he was referring to, he has often cited research by the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation when trying to make the case that cutting carbon emissions would have little effect on global temperatures.
But the data laid out by the Washington-based think tank in its study is misleading, economic and environmental experts have said. It envisions a scenario in which the US acts alone on climate change, not in tandem with the 194 other countries that agreed to emissions reductions in the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The data in the UN's new document is unlikely to sway Trump, who has vowed to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement and has taken steps to dismantle every major policy designed to reduce the nation's carbon footprint.
The report cited more than 6,000 scientific references and was put together by 91 researchers and editors from 40 countries involved with the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
"This is one of the most important reports ever produced by the IPCC, and certainly one of the most needed," Hoesung Lee, the chair of the body, said at a press conference in South Korea on Monday. "Climate change is already affecting people, livelihood and ecosystems all around the world."
WASHINGTON -- (November 3, 2018) -- In a surprising move, the White House has signed off on a lengthy report by more than a dozen federal agencies that reaches a conclusion about climate change that President Donald Trump and his team refuse to acknowledge: The crisis is real, and humans are to blame.
The planet has entered the warmest period "in the history of modern civilization," with global average air temperatures having increased by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit over the last 115 years, according to the findings.
"It is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century," the report states. "In addition to warming, many other aspects of global climate are changing, primarily in response to human activities.
Thousands of studies conducted by researchers around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; diminishing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea levels; ocean acidification; and increasing atmospheric water vapor."
In a series of posts to Twitter, Katharine Hayhoe, a co-author and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, said the report confirms what scientists have known for decades.
"Much of what we've learned in recent years suggests changes could be more extensive, more rapid, and more damaging than we thought," she wrote.
The report is the first volume of the 4th National Climate Assessment, a congressionally mandated update conducted every four years. Its release comes just days before a United Nations climate change conference convenes in Bonn, Germany, where the Trump administration is slated to push fossil fuels -- namely coal and natural gas -- and nuclear energy as the best approaches to reducing emissions and tackling climate change, as The New York Times reported.
In the federal report, scientists now working for Trump -- who has called climate change "bullshit" and a Chinese hoax -- paint a bleak picture of what to expect if humans fail to rein in carbon emissions.
By 2050, the annual average temperature in the US is forecast to rise by about 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The number of large forest fires is predicted to increase. Global sea levels -- which have risen 7 to 9 inches since 1900 -- could rise "by at least several inches in the next 15 years and by 1-4 feet by 2100.
"The magnitude of climate change beyond the next few decades will depend primarily on the amount of greenhouse gases (especially carbon dioxide) emitted globally," the report says.
The findings are in stark contrast to the messages coming from Trump and his team. In June, Trump announced plans to pull the US out of the historic Paris Agreement on climate change -- the international accord in which nearly 200 countries committed to slashing carbon emissions.
He has worked to roll back numerous environmental protections, including President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, a policy limiting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. And he has swooped in to try to save America's struggling coal industry and vowed to increase oil and gas production, opening now-protected areas of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans to drilling.
Denial about what is happening to the planet permeates his administration.
In March, Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt told CNBC, "No, I would not agree that [carbon dioxide is] a primary contributor to the global warming that we see." Energy Secretary Rick Perry echoed Pruitt's comments, saying "no" when asked by CNBC whether he believes carbon dioxide "is the primary control knob for the temperature of the Earth and for climate." And Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said glaciers in Montana's Glacier National Park started melting "right after the end of the Ice Age" and that it has "been a consistent melt."
The significance -- and irony -- of the report was not lost Friday, as environmentalists, scientists and former government officials made it clear it's time for Trump to face reality.
"The Climate Science Special Report is a direct rebuke to an administration which has clearly been captured by the narrow profit interests of the fossil fuel industry and other corporate polluters," Liz Perera, climate policy director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement. "It's time for Donald Trump, Scott Pruitt, and the other deniers in this Administration to take science, and their responsibilities, seriously and radically shift course."
The White House neither sought to prevent the report's release nor tried to alter its conclusions, The Washington Post reported, citing several administration officials and federal scientists. However, it did attempt to downplay its significance.
"The climate has changed and is always changing," White House spokesman Raj Shah told the Post in a statement. "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.'" Kavanaugh and Supreme Court to Planet: Drop Dead Within a day of a frightening UN warning
about global warming, the Court lets stand an
anti-EPA decision written by then-Judge Kavanaugh Jay Michaelson / The Daily Beast
(October 9, 2018) -- In the same week that the world's scientists declared global climate disruption has reached a "point of no return", the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, and the Trump administration all agreed to do nothing about it.
On Monday, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a special report describing the effects of climate change that are already being felt today, and the disastrous effects that could come as soon as 2040 absent dramatic action.
Then on Tuesday, the Supreme Court, at the request of the Trump administration, dismissed an appeal of a D.C. Circuit decision that prevented the EPA from regulating a powerful greenhouse gas.
The author of that decision: Judge Kavanaugh.
For anyone waiting for the impact now-Justice Kavanaugh will have on the Supreme Court, you need wait no longer. While Kavanaugh was not involved in the decision to dismiss this case, it is his opinion is now the law of the land -- and is it a disaster for the environment.
David Doniger, who had argued the case for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement that "Coming only a day after the world's leading climate scientists called for urgent action to curb dangerous carbon pollution, the court's decision lets irresponsible companies continue harming our planet."
The regulation in question dates back to the good old days when the EPA accepted the global consensus of climate scientists that manmade gas emissions are causing the earth's atmosphere to trap more heat -- a phenomenon that, among other things, enabled life on earth to develop 2.5 billion years ago, but which is now causing the Earth's climate to warm at a breakneck pace unlike anything in the history of the planet.
Among the gases doing the most damage are hydrofluorocarbons. While HFCs are helpful in preventing ozone loss (they replaced chlorofluorocarbons, which cause it), they are nasty greenhouse gases -- nicknamed "super-pollutants" because each molecule causes around 14,000 times as much warming as a CO2 molecule. And they are ubiquitous, found in millions of household products from air conditioners to hairspray.
So, in 2015, the EPA effectively banned companies from using HFC in their products when alternatives were available. A consortium of industries sued -- although since the leading HFC alternative is manufactured by Honeywell, Inc., it sided with environmentalists.
In August, 2017, the D.C. Circuit court struck down the regulation, in a 2-1 opinion written by Kavanaugh. The court held that while the relevant provision of the Clean Air Act gave the EPA authority to ban ozone-depleting chemicals, it could not ban the replacements for those chemicals, such as HFCs.
That suited the Trump-era EPA just fine; they were planning to roll back the HFC regulations, part of Obama's Climate Action Plan, anyway. And so while Honeywell and environmental groups appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, the EPA filed a memo arguing that since they weren't going to regulate HFCs anyway, there would be no point in the Court taking the case.
The Court agreed today -- which makes sense, really. There would be little point going through the effort of a Supreme Court briefing, argument, and decision process if, at the end of the day, the regulation is doomed anyway. So they dismissed the case.
The larger contexts, of course, are Kavanaugh and climate change.
Kavanaugh's opinion in Mexichem Fluor vs. EPA is the perfect example of his view that agencies may not act without specific statutory authority.
That sounds like a neutral principle, but in practice, it would spell the end for a huge swath of environmental, health, safety, labor, financial, commercial, and other regulations.
Congress has neither the time nor the expertise to specify every consequence of every law it passes. That's why it delegates that level of decision-making to agencies, who have teams of experts (until the Trump administration, anyway) to work out the details.
In the case of HFCs, the EPA noted that it had the authority to replace ozone-depleting chemicals with "safe substitutes." HFCs, it said, are unsafe, because they are climate change super-pollutants. But Judge Kavanaugh called this a "novel reading" of the statute and struck down the regulations.
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