Trump’s climate science jihad portends a more bigly U.S. carbon footprint
by Len Bahr, Ph.D.
For those of us who perceive global warming and its horrifying ‘accoutrements’ as the ultimate threat to our species, the year 2016 was extraordinary. My personal concern is considerably heightened by the fact that today, April 4, 2017, is the first birthday of my grandson Hudson Riefle Bahr Jones, who will reap the consequences of whatever action or inaction is taken during the next few years by the most profligate carbon emitting nation on earth, in terms of per capita CO2 generated.
During 2016 we saw the lame duck Barack Hussein Obama taking heroic rear guard action to offset the trajectory of climate change, with a landmark legacy Clean Power Plan and a series of other measures. Meanwhile, his would-be but seemingly long shot successor Donald Trump was declaring global warming a job-killing Chinese hoax. It has become painfully obvious since the election that Mr. Trump has absolutely no concept of the second law of thermodynamics, or the impossibility of perpetual motion.
Throughout the campaign dynamics of 2016, underdog Demo Bernie Sanders kept Hillary’s feet to the fire on climate change but the issue never gained traction. This was due largely to a disinterested mainstream media, for whom global warming was a marginal, niche issue of interest only to elite greenies. Thus, during the most intensively covered and vehemently argued presidential campaign in history the most threatening issue for humankind was virtually ignored. This fact was documented in quantitative terms by Emily Atkins in her March 24 article in newrepubic.com (see fig. 1). Here’s a quote:
The most likely explanation for this (lack of coverage on climate issues) is that, in 2016, the TV news networks largely focused on Trump—Trump’s speeches, Trump’s election, Trump’s empty podiums. And Trump, of course, does not talk about climate change, because he doesn’t think it’s real or problematic. Now that he’s president, Trump is ignoring climate change in even more consequential ways—by choosing a climate denier to lead the EPA, and by proposing to stop funding any effort to fight it. Clearly, the Trump administration would like the media to ignore climate change. It should not give him what he wants.
The absence of climate change discussion during 2016 was reversed during the final week of March 2017, which saw a spate of reports about a Trump-Jihad on action to reduce global warming. For example, on March 24 motherjones.com published an article by Cally Carlswell on the parallels between Ronald Reagan’s EPA administrator Anne Gorsuch* and her current Trump-appointed counterpart Scott Pruitt. On March 27 motherjones.com published an article by Rebecca Leber on the Trump plan to dismantle President Obama’s climate change initiatives, summarized in an executive order that includes the following language:
It (the executive order) directs the EPA to revisit the Clean Power Plan, which limits carbon pollution from power plants and was considered the centerpiece of former President Barack Obama’s climate policy. Additionally, Trump is asking the Justice Department to stop defending the plan in court.
The president will instruct agencies to rescind a moratorium on coal leasing on public lands; rewrite limits on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry; and ignore the EPA’s current calculation on the costs of carbon pollution. There are also broad directives reversing an Obama initiative requiring that federal departments consider climate mitigation strategy and the national security risks of global warming.
On March 27 nola.com|thetimes-picayune published a biting opinion column by Bob Marshall, who satirized the GOP push to reverse progress on air and water pollution. On the same day Time magazine published an article by Rhea Suh with the Natural Resources Defense Council that is pointedly critical of Trump’s actions and includes suggestions as to what can be done about them. Here’s a quote:
Since the Industrial Revolution ushered in the age of coal, oil and gas, humans have increased the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by more than 44%, to concentrations not seen in some 3 million years. Nearly half the increase has come since 1980, and 2016 marked the largest one-year spike on record. That carbon pollution traps the Earth’s heat and warms the planet. Last year was the hottest since global record-keeping began in 1880. It was the third record-breaking year in a row. Of the 17 hottest years on record, 16 have occurred in this 17-year-old century.
On March 28 The Old Gray Lady New York Times published an editorial titled President Trump Risks the Planet, spelling out the consequences of recent actions by the POTUS to reverse Obama’s legacy agenda. On the same note on March 29 newrepublic.com published an article on the practical aspects of Donald Trump’s executive order to eliminate the Obama Clean Power Plan. Not to be outdone, on March 29 vox.com published an article by David Roberts on the sobering significance of Trump’s energy-related decisions.
Also on March 29 thehill.com published an article by Timothy Cama on the house passage of a bill to restrict the kind of science that EPA could use to justify regulations, based on cost/benefit analysis. This restriction forbade, for example, using the concept of the monetized social cost of carbon emissions, as developed by government agencies during the Obama years and currently priced at $36/ton of carbon emitted,. That subject was discussed the same day in an article by Ramin Skibba in slate.com. Also on March 29, bloomberg.com published an article by Cass R. Sunstein on the practical aspects of the use of the social cost of carbon emissions.
Finally, The New Yorker published a summary article by Amy Davidson in its April 17 issue on what Donald Trump’s executive order to the EPA really means. Read it and weep with me.
*Mother of Neil Gorsuch, currently awaiting Senate confirmation as a Supreme Court justice.