The climate change 'resistance' movement inside the Trump administration

The climate change 'resistance' movement inside the Trump administration

Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Getty Images (2), AP (2)

The weather in South Florida was glorious, with temperatures climbing into the 80s. The weather in Washington got worse, so by the following Thursday, residents of the district woke to a frozen city that would remain frozen for the next two weeks.‘ data-reactid=”23″>The weather in South Florida was glorious, with temperatures climbing into the 80s. The weather in Washington got worse, so by the following Thursday, residents of the district woke to a frozen city that would remain frozen for the next two weeks.

This was the 2,436th tweet Trump had sent since placing his left hand on the Lincoln Bible 11 months before. It was the first to explicitly mention climate change. By contrast, he’d tweeted about the kneeling protests of professional football players on more than 20 occasions. Trump’s climate change tweet was a masterstroke of trolling, its glib tone sending liberals into a predictable, understandable rage. Rep. Kathleen Rice, Democrat of New York, compared the president to “a child who hates science class.” ‘ data-reactid=”25″>This was the 2,436th tweet Trump had sent since placing his left hand on the Lincoln Bible 11 months before. It was the first to explicitly mention climate change. By contrast, he’d tweeted about the kneeling protests of professional football players on more than 20 occasions. Trump’s climate change tweet was a masterstroke of trolling, its glib tone sending liberals into a predictable, understandable rage. Rep. Kathleen Rice, Democrat of New York, compared the president to “a child who hates science class.”

It made perfect sense for the Trump administration to downplay its own investment in the Ukrainian wind farm. When he stood in the Rose Garden on June 1, 2017, and announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate accords, Trump explained that he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” Investing $400 million in an Eastern European green energy project sure seemed like a feint in the direction of France.‘ data-reactid=”34″>It made perfect sense for the Trump administration to downplay its own investment in the Ukrainian wind farm. When he stood in the Rose Garden on June 1, 2017, and announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate accords, Trump explained that he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” Investing $400 million in an Eastern European green energy project sure seemed like a feint in the direction of France.

Though the Trump administration did try to slash the science budget, Congress rejected those cuts in the final spending bill. The White House showed no inclination to fight for its proposed cuts in climate-related programs. So science stayed. Matt Hourihan of the American Association for the Advancement of Science found that the budget Trump endorsed with his signature last spring contained $176.8 billion for pure science, a “year-over-year increase” not seen since the early days of the Obama administration.‘ data-reactid=”36″>Though the Trump administration did try to slash the science budget, Congress rejected those cuts in the final spending bill. The White House showed no inclination to fight for its proposed cuts in climate-related programs. So science stayed. Matt Hourihan of the American Association for the Advancement of Science found that the budget Trump endorsed with his signature last spring contained $176.8 billion for pure science, a “year-over-year increase” not seen since the early days of the Obama administration.

The 1,656-page report was the product of more than a dozen federal agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which have both continued working on climate science the last two years, thanks to funding from the Trump administration. Last March, Trump threatened to veto a congressional omnibus spending bill but signed it anyway. It included $20.7 billion for NASA, which was more than the agency had received in a decade. NOAA got $6 billion, about $300 million more than it got in Obama’s final budget.‘ data-reactid=”38″>The 1,656-page report was the product of more than a dozen federal agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which have both continued working on climate science the last two years, thanks to funding from the Trump administration. Last March, Trump threatened to veto a congressional omnibus spending bill but signed it anyway. It included $20.7 billion for NASA, which was more than the agency had received in a decade. NOAA got $6 billion, about $300 million more than it got in Obama’s final budget.

This difficult-to-ignore discrepancy between what the president says and what his administration does has made for a strange reality. “There’s more energy that could be unleashed to advance our climate resilience capabilities if the rhetoric matched the reality,” says Sherri Goodman, a senior fellow specializing in climate change and security at the Wilson Center. ‘ data-reactid=”42″>This difficult-to-ignore discrepancy between what the president says and what his administration does has made for a strange reality. “There’s more energy that could be unleashed to advance our climate resilience capabilities if the rhetoric matched the reality,” says Sherri Goodman, a senior fellow specializing in climate change and security at the Wilson Center.

***‘ data-reactid=”52″>***

 

Titled “Can we survive technology?” the article warned that the tools of “technological power” could “lend themselves to destruction” if society failed to understand the implications of advancement. The article was about more than just climate change, which von Neumann discussed in the context of weaponized “weather modification.” But he did say that changes in “atmospheric and climatic matters” would “merge each nation’s affairs with those of every other.”‘ data-reactid=”55″>Titled “Can we survive technology?” the article warned that the tools of “technological power” could “lend themselves to destruction” if society failed to understand the implications of advancement. The article was about more than just climate change, which von Neumann discussed in the context of weaponized “weather modification.” But he did say that changes in “atmospheric and climatic matters” would “merge each nation’s affairs with those of every other.”

Bill Clinton, who was advised on climate change by Todd Stern, the future negotiator of the Paris accord, wanted the U.S. to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gasses, but the Senate frustrated that attempt. His successor, George W. Bush, seemed to acknowledge climate change but ultimately dismissed the gravity of the situation. In 2001, he said that his administration “took the issue of global climate change very seriously” but would not abide by Kyoto because it was “unfair and ineffective.”‘ data-reactid=”57″>Bill Clinton, who was advised on climate change by Todd Stern, the future negotiator of the Paris accord, wanted the U.S. to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gasses, but the Senate frustrated that attempt. His successor, George W. Bush, seemed to acknowledge climate change but ultimately dismissed the gravity of the situation. In 2001, he said that his administration “took the issue of global climate change very seriously” but would not abide by Kyoto because it was “unfair and ineffective.”

Where he has been able to act decisively, and without Congress, Trump has acted on this conviction. Two months into his presidency, Trump signed an executive order that directed the Environmental Protection Agency to repeal the Clean Power Plan, an Obama measure to increase reliance on renewable energy sources. Two months after that, he announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris climate accords. ‘ data-reactid=”59″>Where he has been able to act decisively, and without Congress, Trump has acted on this conviction. Two months into his presidency, Trump signed an executive order that directed the Environmental Protection Agency to repeal the Clean Power Plan, an Obama measure to increase reliance on renewable energy sources. Two months after that, he announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris climate accords.

This is enough, detractors say, to make Trump the most anti-science president in modern American history. There’s no point in downplaying Trump’s preference for open coal plants over the open range. But at least part of Trump’s anti-environmental stance is meant primarily to excite his supporters. ‘ data-reactid=”61″>This is enough, detractors say, to make Trump the most anti-science president in modern American history. There’s no point in downplaying Trump’s preference for open coal plants over the open range. But at least part of Trump’s anti-environmental stance is meant primarily to excite his supporters.

Trump did not, for example, leave the Paris accords, but merely indicated his intentions to do so. That is significant, but obscures the fact that the U.S. can’t actually leave the agreement until 2021. For now, the marriage will hold, however uneasily.‘ data-reactid=”70″>Trump did not, for example, leave the Paris accords, but merely indicated his intentions to do so. That is significant, but obscures the fact that the U.S. can’t actually leave the agreement until 2021. For now, the marriage will hold, however uneasily.

Trump administration officials were heckled U.N. conference in Bonn, Germany, last year, but the American delegation participated as it would under any other president. Natalie M. Mahowald, a Cornell climate scientist who is a member of the American delegation to the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, recalls that the governors of Western states showed up to compensate for a lack of leadership from Washington. “These guys did it at the state level,” holding a “really energizing session” with Canadian counterparts that, according to Mahowald, made “America look good.”‘ data-reactid=”72″>Trump administration officials were heckled U.N. conference in Bonn, Germany, last year, but the American delegation participated as it would under any other president. Natalie M. Mahowald, a Cornell climate scientist who is a member of the American delegation to the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, recalls that the governors of Western states showed up to compensate for a lack of leadership from Washington. “These guys did it at the state level,” holding a “really energizing session” with Canadian counterparts that, according to Mahowald, made “America look good.”

The U.S. did send a delegation of scientists and diplomats to the U.N. climate conference currently taking place in Katowice, Poland. The American contingent is helmed by career foreign service officer Judith Garber, who has no record of climate change denial. But at least for some of the time, the American delegation will be promoting coal.‘ data-reactid=”74″>The U.S. did send a delegation of scientists and diplomats to the U.N. climate conference currently taking place in Katowice, Poland. The American contingent is helmed by career foreign service officer Judith Garber, who has no record of climate change denial. But at least for some of the time, the American delegation will be promoting coal.

Schwarzenegger reiterated that point to Yahoo News the following day, comparing the green revolution to the women’s suffrage and civil rights movements, which came to Washington, not from it. “The ideal thing is that everyone works together. But that’s not the case right now,” Schwarzenegger said. “He’s living in the past,” he said of Trump. ‘ data-reactid=”76″>Schwarzenegger reiterated that point to Yahoo News the following day, comparing the green revolution to the women’s suffrage and civil rights movements, which came to Washington, not from it. “The ideal thing is that everyone works together. But that’s not the case right now,” Schwarzenegger said. “He’s living in the past,” he said of Trump.

Speaking to Yahoo News from Katowice, the former California governor called the shift away from fossil fuels “an unstoppable train.” Trump, he says, “is not slowing it down much.” Like others, he is dismayed by the Trump administration but believes that the green movement will easily outlast this presidency. ‘ data-reactid=”78″>Speaking to Yahoo News from Katowice, the former California governor called the shift away from fossil fuels “an unstoppable train.” Trump, he says, “is not slowing it down much.” Like others, he is dismayed by the Trump administration but believes that the green movement will easily outlast this presidency.

***‘ data-reactid=”81″>***

 

“Obama built up climate in every agency,” says Steve Milloy, a vehement detractor of climate science on his Junk Science website. “I don’t know why people consider it conspiratorial,” Milloy says somewhat defensively, in recognition that suggestions like his are easily grouped with Deep State paranoia. “There is a permanent bureaucracy that is committed to climate hysteria. Until funding is completely cut, these people will continue working on this stuff.”‘ data-reactid=”84″>“Obama built up climate in every agency,” says Steve Milloy, a vehement detractor of climate science on his Junk Science website. “I don’t know why people consider it conspiratorial,” Milloy says somewhat defensively, in recognition that suggestions like his are easily grouped with Deep State paranoia. “There is a permanent bureaucracy that is committed to climate hysteria. Until funding is completely cut, these people will continue working on this stuff.”

Still, for some skeptics, any work on climate change at all is evidence, if not exactly of a conspiracy, then of a concerted effort to slow-walk or sabotage Trump’s environmental policies. “I’m told of career employees at agencies including the departments of State, Treasury and Transportation, as high as the office director level, actively working to undermine the administration’s positions that the officials are tasked with advancing,’ says Christopher C. Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank that advocates against environmental regulation. ‘ data-reactid=”93″>Still, for some skeptics, any work on climate change at all is evidence, if not exactly of a conspiracy, then of a concerted effort to slow-walk or sabotage Trump’s environmental policies. “I’m told of career employees at agencies including the departments of State, Treasury and Transportation, as high as the office director level, actively working to undermine the administration’s positions that the officials are tasked with advancing,’ says Christopher C. Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank that advocates against environmental regulation.

In September, Horner also published a report, “Government for Rent” that purports to describe how liberal billionaires like former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, formerly a Republican, were trying to negate the Trump administration by supporting climate work in the offices of state attorneys general. The report, however, is less indicative of a vast left-wing conspiracy than of certain states, such as New York and California, electing activist attorneys general willing to sue the administration over its environmental rollbacks. ‘ data-reactid=”95″>In September, Horner also published a report, “Government for Rent” that purports to describe how liberal billionaires like former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, formerly a Republican, were trying to negate the Trump administration by supporting climate work in the offices of state attorneys general. The report, however, is less indicative of a vast left-wing conspiracy than of certain states, such as New York and California, electing activist attorneys general willing to sue the administration over its environmental rollbacks.

As Rep. Clay Higgins, Republican of Louisiana, said last summer at an energy conference for conservatives, “The Deep State is real,” and it is “certainly anti-fossil fuel.”‘ data-reactid=”97″>As Rep. Clay Higgins, Republican of Louisiana, said last summer at an energy conference for conservatives, “The Deep State is real,” and it is “certainly anti-fossil fuel.”

 

One reason that environmental work appears to have stalled in the Trump administration is because the EPA, the government’s most visible environmental agency, has been brought to its knees. Long demonized by Republicans, the EPA was co-opted by global warming deniers from virtually the moment Trump was declared the president-elect. The agency’s public diminishment has served as a vivid, if not entirely accurate, symbol of science in the age of Trump.‘ data-reactid=”101″>One reason that environmental work appears to have stalled in the Trump administration is because the EPA, the government’s most visible environmental agency, has been brought to its knees. Long demonized by Republicans, the EPA was co-opted by global warming deniers from virtually the moment Trump was declared the president-elect. The agency’s public diminishment has served as a vivid, if not entirely accurate, symbol of science in the age of Trump.

“People feel as though as their work isn’t being taken seriously,” says Loreen Targos, who was speaking in her capacity as a private citizen and a shop steward in the Chicago chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees, a public sector union. Targos, who is employed as a physical scientist in that city’s EPA office, says that under Pruitt, “a lot of things had to go through headquarters that didn’t have to go through headquarters before.”‘ data-reactid=”110″>“People feel as though as their work isn’t being taken seriously,” says Loreen Targos, who was speaking in her capacity as a private citizen and a shop steward in the Chicago chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees, a public sector union. Targos, who is employed as a physical scientist in that city’s EPA office, says that under Pruitt, “a lot of things had to go through headquarters that didn’t have to go through headquarters before.”

“We want to just carry out the mission of the EPA, and our leadership doesn’t appreciate that,” Targos says. And so “folks are retiring, and their positions are not refilled.” An estimated 260 scientists have left the agency under Trump. If things are marginally better with Wheeler in charge, it is only because, she said, he is prone to fewer “insane antics” than Pruitt, who infamously dispatched underlings to find him a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel. ‘ data-reactid=”112″>“We want to just carry out the mission of the EPA, and our leadership doesn’t appreciate that,” Targos says. And so “folks are retiring, and their positions are not refilled.” An estimated 260 scientists have left the agency under Trump. If things are marginally better with Wheeler in charge, it is only because, she said, he is prone to fewer “insane antics” than Pruitt, who infamously dispatched underlings to find him a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel.

Cox is skeptical about the ability of Congress to hold the line against Trump. The White House will ask for huge cuts, and Congress will comply with smaller ones. “They’ll keep chipping away,” Cox believes, which will only drive committed staffers like him out of the agency by giving them more work of the less meaningful kind. “The road map, as I see it, is to reduce the number of people working at EPA.”‘ data-reactid=”114″>Cox is skeptical about the ability of Congress to hold the line against Trump. The White House will ask for huge cuts, and Congress will comply with smaller ones. “They’ll keep chipping away,” Cox believes, which will only drive committed staffers like him out of the agency by giving them more work of the less meaningful kind. “The road map, as I see it, is to reduce the number of people working at EPA.”

And it’s not just at the EPA. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who is charged with administering public lands, spoke this week at a meeting of the National Petroleum Council in Washington, D.C. Zinke, who appears to have fallen out of favor with Trump and is widely rumored to be looking for a job in the private sector, made overtures uncommon for a public official. ‘ data-reactid=”123″>And it’s not just at the EPA. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who is charged with administering public lands, spoke this week at a meeting of the National Petroleum Council in Washington, D.C. Zinke, who appears to have fallen out of favor with Trump and is widely rumored to be looking for a job in the private sector, made overtures uncommon for a public official.

Even so, Perry’s own department has allotted $15 million for 27 projects on “atmospheric and terrestrial ecosystem studies.” And there are dozens of climate-related research projects that have been funded in recent months by the National Science Foundation, most of them on not exactly Trumpian subjects like “Data-driven Koopman Operator Techniques for Chaotic and Non-Autonomous Dynamical Systems” ($300,000) and “A Modeling Study of Easterly Waves and Their Intraseasonal Variability in the East Pacific” ($343,501). ‘ data-reactid=”125″>Even so, Perry’s own department has allotted $15 million for 27 projects on “atmospheric and terrestrial ecosystem studies.” And there are dozens of climate-related research projects that have been funded in recent months by the National Science Foundation, most of them on not exactly Trumpian subjects like “Data-driven Koopman Operator Techniques for Chaotic and Non-Autonomous Dynamical Systems” ($300,000) and “A Modeling Study of Easterly Waves and Their Intraseasonal Variability in the East Pacific” ($343,501).

***‘ data-reactid=”128″>***

 

The national security community’s concerns about climate change go back decades. In 1989, national security adviser Brent Scowcroft convened a meeting on climate change that was attended by representatives of more than a dozen federal agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the EPA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.‘ data-reactid=”138″>The national security community’s concerns about climate change go back decades. In 1989, national security adviser Brent Scowcroft convened a meeting on climate change that was attended by representatives of more than a dozen federal agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the EPA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

That was under another president. The 2018 National Defense Strategy, as the defense review is now known, does not mention climate change for the first time since 2010. But the omission should not be taken to mean that the military has come to discount the dangers of global warming, cautions John Conger, a former deputy undersecretary of Defense Department who now heads the Center for Climate and Security.‘ data-reactid=”140″>That was under another president. The 2018 National Defense Strategy, as the defense review is now known, does not mention climate change for the first time since 2010. But the omission should not be taken to mean that the military has come to discount the dangers of global warming, cautions John Conger, a former deputy undersecretary of Defense Department who now heads the Center for Climate and Security.

“There is no denialism” on the part of the military, Conger says. ‘ data-reactid=”142″>“There is no denialism” on the part of the military, Conger says.

And though the Pentagon review no longer makes mention of climate change, the Worldwide Threat Assessment issued by director of national intelligence Daniel R. Coats bluntly warned that “impacts of the long-term trends toward a warming climate, more air pollution, biodiversity loss, and water scarcity are likely to fuel economic and social discontent — and possibly upheaval — through 2018.”‘ data-reactid=”144″>And though the Pentagon review no longer makes mention of climate change, the Worldwide Threat Assessment issued by director of national intelligence Daniel R. Coats bluntly warned that “impacts of the long-term trends toward a warming climate, more air pollution, biodiversity loss, and water scarcity are likely to fuel economic and social discontent — and possibly upheaval — through 2018.”

Defusing the threat of climate change abroad can be a kind of goodwill measure for a nation whose international reputation has fallen in recent years, a kind of environmental Marshall Plan. In that context, OPIC’s investment in the Ukrainian wind farm makes geopolitical, not just environmental sense. The same goes for its $135 million investment in a geothermal plant in Honduras, a $13 million loan for a solar power facility in Zambia, $223 million to finance a wind farm in Kenya and $25 million for other solar projects in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. ‘ data-reactid=”146″>Defusing the threat of climate change abroad can be a kind of goodwill measure for a nation whose international reputation has fallen in recent years, a kind of environmental Marshall Plan. In that context, OPIC’s investment in the Ukrainian wind farm makes geopolitical, not just environmental sense. The same goes for its $135 million investment in a geothermal plant in Honduras, a $13 million loan for a solar power facility in Zambia, $223 million to finance a wind farm in Kenya and $25 million for other solar projects in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

The State Department has continued to engage in what it calls eco-diplomacy efforts, with a summit on green initiatives held at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., last year. The effort, begun by President Barack Obama, seeks to transform American embassies into models of energy efficiency and resource conservation. ‘ data-reactid=”155″>The State Department has continued to engage in what it calls eco-diplomacy efforts, with a summit on green initiatives held at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., last year. The effort, begun by President Barack Obama, seeks to transform American embassies into models of energy efficiency and resource conservation.

Yet Pompeo has been reluctant to say that human activity causes climate change. And though the State Department used to have a special envoy for climate change, the position was eliminated by Pompeo’s predecessor, former oil executive Rex Tillerson. When the U.N .report on climate change was published in October, the State Department questioned its findings, with a spokesman insisting that, when it came to environmental policy, the U.S. was “doing good.” ‘ data-reactid=”157″>Yet Pompeo has been reluctant to say that human activity causes climate change. And though the State Department used to have a special envoy for climate change, the position was eliminated by Pompeo’s predecessor, former oil executive Rex Tillerson. When the U.N .report on climate change was published in October, the State Department questioned its findings, with a spokesman insisting that, when it came to environmental policy, the U.S. was “doing good.”

 

Not everyone agrees the Trump administration is “doing good” on climate science. “There is no leadership,” laments Bob Perciasepe, a former EPA official who now serves as the president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. “There is nobody who is a visible leader in the administration out there saying, ‘Climate change is really happening.’”‘ data-reactid=”161″>Not everyone agrees the Trump administration is “doing good” on climate science. “There is no leadership,” laments Bob Perciasepe, a former EPA official who now serves as the president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. “There is nobody who is a visible leader in the administration out there saying, ‘Climate change is really happening.’”

Webb calls this “government censorship of science.” She explains that even if the Trump administration can’t stop research that has been funded by Congress, it can bury the findings, as it did with the National Climate Assessment. And she credits Congress, not Trump, with continuing to fund climate science. The work is happening despite the president, she says, not because of him.‘ data-reactid=”163″>Webb calls this “government censorship of science.” She explains that even if the Trump administration can’t stop research that has been funded by Congress, it can bury the findings, as it did with the National Climate Assessment. And she credits Congress, not Trump, with continuing to fund climate science. The work is happening despite the president, she says, not because of him.

And what is happening may not be enough. The National Climate Assessment found that, unless action is taken, by the end of the century, the temperature could increase at the rate of 9 degrees Fahrenheit per year. “Climate-related risks will continue to grow without additional action,” the report warns. “Decisions made today determine risk exposure for current and future generations and will either broaden or limit options to reduce the negative consequences of climate change.”‘ data-reactid=”172″>And what is happening may not be enough. The National Climate Assessment found that, unless action is taken, by the end of the century, the temperature could increase at the rate of 9 degrees Fahrenheit per year. “Climate-related risks will continue to grow without additional action,” the report warns. “Decisions made today determine risk exposure for current and future generations and will either broaden or limit options to reduce the negative consequences of climate change.”

Back in Washington, Trump was asked about the new climate report on a Monday in late November. The day before, it had been warm enough to wear shorts. Standing on the South Lawn, Trump brushed away the concerns contained in the climate report, concerns scientists believe must be addressed promptly to prevent global catastrophe.‘ data-reactid=”174″>Back in Washington, Trump was asked about the new climate report on a Monday in late November. The day before, it had been warm enough to wear shorts. Standing on the South Lawn, Trump brushed away the concerns contained in the climate report, concerns scientists believe must be addressed promptly to prevent global catastrophe.

_____‘ data-reactid=”176″>_____

 

 


Source : Link

Related Post