sexta-feira, 10 de março de 2017

EPA head Scott Pruitt denies that carbon dioxide causes global warming / Climate change denial in the Trump cabinet: where do his nominees stand?

Scott Pruitt, the new head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, gave an interview on CNBC on Thursday during which he denied carbon dioxide was a primary contributor to global warming. Pruitt also said that there is ‘tremendous disagreement’ over the extent to which human activity such as CO2 emissions are affecting the earth, despite widespread agreement in the scientific community

EPA head Scott Pruitt denies that carbon dioxide causes global warming
Trump adviser shocks scientists and environmental advocates with statement that negates EPA policy and ‘overwhelmingly clear’ evidence on climate change

Oliver Milman in New York
Thursday 9 March 2017 19.12 GMT

Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump’s head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, has dismissed a basic scientific understanding of climate change by denying that carbon dioxide emissions are a primary cause of global warming.

Pruitt said on Thursday that he did not believe that the release of CO2, a heat-trapping gas, was pushing global temperatures upwards.

“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” he told CNBC.

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“But we don’t know that yet ... We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”

This stance puts Pruitt at odds with his own agency, which states on its website that carbon dioxide is the “primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change”. This finding is backed by Nasa, which calls CO2 “the most important long-lived ‘forcing’ of climate change”.

Scientists have understood for more than a century that CO2 traps heat. Atmospheric concentrations of the gas have increased by more than a third since the industrial revolution, driven by the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report from 2014, which summarized the findings of 2,000 international scientists, states it is “extremely likely” that the steep rise in CO2, along with other greenhouse gases such as methane, has caused most of the global warming experienced since the 1950s.

Pruitt’s comments were quickly condemned by scientists, environmental activists and even his immediate predecessor as EPA chief, Gina McCarthy.

“The world of science is about empirical evidence, not beliefs,” said McCarthy, an appointee of Barack Obama. “When it comes to climate change, the evidence is robust and overwhelmingly clear that the cost of inaction is unacceptably high.

“I cannot imagine what additional information the administrator might want from scientists for him to understand that.”

Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said: “Pruitt has demonstrated that he is unqualified to run the EPA or any agency. There is no doubt whatsoever that the planet is warming, and it is primarily due to increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from burning of fossil fuels.

“Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and we can demonstrate clearly that the observed warming of the planet would not have occurred without that change in atmospheric composition. These are scientific facts, not opinion, and it is incumbent on politicians to take account of the scientific evidence.”

Pruitt has previously equivocated on the issue of climate change, telling his Senate confirmation hearing that while he accepts the world is warming it is “hard to measure with precision” the human influence.

A core EPA function is the regulation of greenhouse gases, including CO2. Pruitt, in his previous role as attorney general of Oklahoma, sued the EPA to halt Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which imposes emissions limits on coal-fired power plants.

The plan, similar to many of the other Obama-era policies to combat climate change and safeguard clean air and water, is likely to be dismantled by the Trump administration. The president has previously called the EPA a “disgrace” and promised to reduce it to “tidbits” in order to spark economic growth.

The EPA faces severe cuts under a proposed White House budget proposal, with Pruitt set to review the agency’s role in vehicle emissions standards, methane emissions and protection of America’s waterways.

Pruitt sued the EPA 14 times while attorney general of Oklahoma and has worked in concert with fossil fuel interests in many of these cases. The recent release of thousands of Pruitt’s emails during his tenure showed an extremely close relationship between Pruitt’s office and oil and gas companies.

The EPA administrator has insisted that the regulator does work that could be delegated to the states, has overreached and needs to be reined in.

“There are a lot of changes that need to take place at my agency to restore the rule of law and federalism,” Pruitt said last month.

Climate change denial in the Trump cabinet: where do his nominees stand?
Critics say the president-elect’s picks represent ‘unprecedented’ influence from the fossil fuel industry. Their statements do little to dispel the notion

Mazin Sidahmed in New York
Thursday 15 December 2016 17.55 GMT

As Donald Trump assembles his cabinet, one consistent theme has emerged: many of his nominees have expressed doubt about the science of human-caused climate change.

“We’re seeing an unprecedented amount of influence from the fossil fuel industry in Trump’s cabinet,” Jeremy Symons, who works on climate politics for the Environmental Defense Fund, said. “What’s missing from this cabinet is the balance one would expect to bring the other side to the equation and it really leaves us wondering: who is looking out for us? Clearly the oil companies are well attended, but who’s looking out for us?”

Here is where Trump’s cabinet nominees stand on climate change.

Environmental Protection Agency: Scott Pruitt
a attorney general has been a longtime adversary of the EPA and a close friend to the fossil fuels industry. He helped lead a lawsuit from 28 states against the agency’s clean power plan, an Obama administration initiative to cut carbon pollution from coal power plants. He has also accepted more than $250,000 in donations from the oil and gas industry over the course of four campaigns for attorney general, lieutenant governor and state senator. In a joint op-ed in the National Review, Pruitt wrote that the debate on climate change is “far from settled”, adding: “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.” In fact, the overwhelming majority of scientists agree climate change is happening and caused by humans.

Department of the Interior: Ryan Zinke
Zinke is a Montana congressman, former Navy Seal commander and Iraq war veteran who has consistently voted in favor of oil and gas drilling projects on federal lands. As interior secretary he will have oversight over the use of federal lands and controversial pipeline and drilling projects. The congressman supports the Keystone XL pipeline and and supported measures to remove protections of endangered species, while opposing legislation to regulate fracking. The League of Conservation Voters gave him a lifetime voting scorecard of 3%. While previously acknowledging the science behind climate change, Zinke said in 2014 that it “is not proven”.

Department of Energy: Rick Perry
The former Texas governor will be nominated to take over the agency he famously wanted to abolish but could not name during his presidential bid in 2012. In 2011, Perry said that global warming was an unproven scientific theory.

Department of State: Rex Tillerson
The former chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil was nominated to be the country’s top diplomat. Much has been made of his ties to Russia and how that may affect his role, while Tillerson’s position on climate change has been less of a focus. On the surface, Tillerson acknowledges the science of human-caused climate change and supported a carbon tax in 2009; ExxonMobil issued a statement of support for the Paris agreement while he was at the helm. However, Exxon is currently under investigation by New York’s attorney general for misleading investors on the risks of climate change. The company has also consistently lobbied against climate change proposals. Exxon has also pushed to open the Arctic up for drilling.

Department of Defense: James N Mattis
Mattis would be taking over a defense department that has identified climate change as a national security “threat multiplier”. He has made few public statements on climate change, but according to a 2010 report on the military’s energy policy the former Marine general asked to “unleash us from the tether of fuel” during the drive into Baghdad. His longtime colleague, retired Marine Corps Brig Gen Stephen Cheney, told Climate Change News that Mattis “gets climate change”.

Department of Housing and Urban Development: Ben Carson
Carson has said that he is not convinced by the science behind human-caused climate change. “I know there are a lot of people who say ‘overwhelming science’, but then when you ask them to show the overwhelming science they never can show it,” Carson told the San Francisco Chronicle. In multiple exchanges, he acknowledged that the climate was changing before asserting that the climate has always changed, but “when things stop changing, then we’re dead”. He told a crowd at a campaign event in New Hampshire last year that he believes in taking care of the environment but does not think the issue should be politicized.

CIA: Mike Pompeo
Pompeo is among the most the outspoken critics of climate change legislation. He has expressed skepticism over the science that climate change is caused by humans, saying in 2013: “Look, I think the science needs to continue to develop. There are scientists who think lots of different things about climate change. There’s some who think we’re warming, there’s some who think we’re cooling, there’s some who think that the last 16 years have shown a pretty stable climate environment.” He derided Barack Obama last year for describing climate change as a national security threat. Pompeo referred to the Paris agreement as a “radical climate change deal”.

National security adviser: Michael Flynn
The former general does not view climate change as a priority. He slammed President Obama on Fox News for discussing climate change after a terrorist attack. Speaking on Fox News in June, he said: “Here we have the president of the United States up in Canada talking about climate change. I mean, God, we just had the largest attack, as you just said, on our own soil in Orlando. Why are we talking about that? Who is talking about that? You know, I mean, Fort Hood, Chattanooga, Boston. People forget about 9/11.”

Attorney general: Jeff Sessions
Throughout his time in the US Senate, Sessions has consistently voted against climate action, with the League of Conservation Voters giving him a scorecard of 7%. He said on the Senate floor in 2003: “I believe there are legitimate disputes about the validity and extent of global warming … Carbon dioxide does not hurt you. We have to have it in the atmosphere. It is what plants breathe. In fact, the more carbon dioxide that exists, the faster plants grow.” Sessions reportedly said last year that the fight against climate change hurts poor people. In 2015, he reiterated his claim that increased carbon dioxide was not bad for you: “Carbon pollution is CO2, and that’s really not a pollutant; that’s a plant food, and it doesn’t harm anybody except that it might include temperature increases.”

Department of Homeland Security: John F Kelly
Kelly has made few public statements on climate change but told the Senate committee on homeland security and governmental affairs: “As with the campaign today to raise awareness of climate change – whether one agrees or disagrees with the cause-and-effect claims – all are at least fully aware of the issue. Even those who reject the science have reduced their energy consumption and know it is good for the environment.”

Department of Health and Human Services: Tom Price
Tom Price is a noted climate change skeptic. In a statement supporting a bill to fight EPA regulations on carbon dioxide, Price said: “This decision goes against all common sense, especially considering the many recent revelations of errors and obfuscation in the allegedly ‘settled science’ of global warming.” He has consistently voted against incentivizing renewable energy sources with tax credits and in favor of increased oil exploration. He signed a pledge created by Americans for Prosperity, a conservative thinktank funded by the Koch brothers, to oppose climate legislation.

Department of Commerce: Wilbur Ross
The commerce department encompasses the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has a key role in monitoring the effects of climate change. Ross’s views on the issue are not clear. In his career of buying distressed companies, he has invested hundreds of millions into oil and gas businesses.

Department of the Treasury: Steven Mnuchin
Trump’s financier during this campaign and a former Goldman Sachs executive, Mnuchin has made little public comment on climate change. Having never held public office, his views on the issue have not been interrogated.

Department of Education: Betsy DeVos
DeVos is the chairman of the Windquest Group, an investment company she founded with her husband in 1989 that invests in clean energy technology. She may have the most measured views on climate change in the administration.

Department of Transportation: Elaine Chao
Chao was previously a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative thinktank that opposes policies to fight climate change. “Chao’s connection to institutions that manufacture climate denial, like the Heritage Foundation, requires the public demand she prioritize both public health and the impacts of climate change when managing our transportation infrastructure,” said Greenpeace USA spokeswoman Cassady Craighill. She wrote a blogpost in 2009 for the foundation in which she derided a proposed cap-and-trade system, a market-based approach to reducing pollution by providing incentives to reduce emissions.

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