Pruitt’s CO2 Comments Prompt Voicemail Jam, Rebuke from Scientists


Pruitt’s CO2 Comments Prompt Voicemail Jam, Rebuke from Scientists

A coal-fired power plant in West Virginia.

Late last week Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, appeared on the CNBC show “Squawk Box.” During his interview, he insisted that carbon emissions are not a primary cause of climate change.

“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,” Pruitt told host Joe Kernen.

To many, Pruitt’s comments are in line with the Donald Trump administration’s playbook. The idea is simple: Say something outrageous that will ignite a firestorm on social media and foment the launch of press releases and public statements from organizations that oppose the president’s agenda. Meanwhile, the White House is dishing out executive orders as it dismantles or delays rules implemented by the previous administration. Such changes in policy are not as fun to read and cannot be crammed in a 140-character tweet, but nonetheless they have far more impact.

Continue reading “Pruitt’s CO2 Comments Prompt Voicemail Jam, Rebuke from Scientists”

Climate Change Complicates the Whole Dam Debate

Climate Change Complicates the Whole Dam Debate

Demolishing dams helps many fish but threatens waters where some native species shelter from drought and invasive predators

Oroville Dam in California. Credit: California National Guard Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

With California now on track to have the rainiest year in its history—on the heels of its worst drought in 500 years—the state has become a daily reminder that extreme weather events are on the rise. And the recent near-collapse of the spillway at California’s massive Oroville Dam put an exclamation point on the potentially catastrophic risks.

More than 4,000 dams in the U.S. are now rated unsafe because of structural or other deficiencies. Bringing the entire system of 90,000 dams up to current standards would cost about $79 billion, according to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. Hence, it has become increasingly common to demolish problematic dams, mainly for economic and public safety reasons, and less often to open up old habitats to native fish. About 700 dams have been taken down across the U.S. over the past decade, with overwhelmingly beneficial results for river species and ecosystems.

Now, however, a new study in Biological Conservation takes the science of dam removal in an unexpected direction. Although acknowledging that reopening rivers usually leads to “increased species richness, abundance and biomass,” a team of South African and Australian authors argues that in some cases threatened species may actually benefit from keeping existing dams intact.

Continue reading “Climate Change Complicates the Whole Dam Debate”

It’s the Golden Age of Climate Denial

It’s the Golden Age of Climate Denial

In Trump’s America, more CO2 in the atmosphere is actually good.


On the Friday afternoon of this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, inside the hulking Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, a pair of men besuited in various shades of olive and brown discussed how the increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (which they granted were up 40 percent since the Industrial Revolution) had led to a phenomenon called “global greening.” Plants need CO2 to grow, they told a captivated audience of a couple dozen people, and when there’s more of it, they grow faster, larger, and—since they need less water—in drier areas.

CPAC has long been a place for the outlandish and the absurd to make its way from the ideological bayou to the mainstream. This year, multiple seminars made the case that Actually, More CO2 in the Atmosphere Is Good. Because of increased CO2 levels, “the Earth is in a far better place today,” Craig Idso of CO2Science and the board of directors of the CO2 Coalition told his interviewer, James Delingpole of Breitbart, in a seminar sponsored by the coalition. Most of those assembled nodded vigorously. Later, they showcased a satellite map demonstrating the increased surface area of plant life in recent years.

Jack Holmes Continue reading “It’s the Golden Age of Climate Denial”

Trump’s Climate Agenda: Do Less, With Less


Trump’s Climate Agenda: Do Less, With Less

From the EPA to the White House, from the budget to the federal register, his administration is dismantling climate-change regulation and the science that supports it.

Carlo Allegri / Reuters
 Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seems like a refined and intelligent man. Speaking in public, he has an easy manner, a winsome smirk, and a pleasant drawl. Even though Senator Susan Collins opposed his nomination to lead the agency, the Republican senator made sure to note that he is bright and enjoyable, and that she might support him elsewhere in government.
He seems reasonable and genteel—all you’d want in southern lawyer.

Yet on Thursday, Pruitt let slip an opinion that was ugly, and false, and ugly in its falsehood. Carbon dioxide, he said, is not a “primary contributor” to global warming. In his opinion, the topic requires more study and debate.

With this comment, Pruitt finally confirms what many had long suspected: that he broadly rejects the mainstream scientific consensus around climate change. As I wrote Thursday, decades of research have found that carbon dioxide is a primary driver of modern-day global warming. Pruitt’s comment is ugly because he is discarding all the work of discovery that got us there—all those decades of careful observation, onerous computation, and hard-won consensus—without providing an equivalent body of evidence. He is embracing the concept of “study and debate” as a stall, refusing to cede to what actual study and debate have found. It flies in the face of discovery, of curiosity, and of fact.

Continue reading “Trump’s Climate Agenda: Do Less, With Less”

What President Trump’s Proposed EPA Budget Cuts Mean for Your Health

What President Trump’s Proposed EPA Budget Cuts Mean for Your Health

Justin Worland Mar 02, 2017
EPA Brownfield sites
The former Maine Energy Recovery Co. site, seen from the corner of Lincoln Street and Pearl Street, was purchased by the city of Biddeford, Maine in 2012. The 8.4-acre site received funding from the Environmental Protection Agency through a brownfields cleanup grant.  Derek Davis—Portland Press Herald/Getty Images
President Trump’s administration is planning big cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with the aim of moving the organization away from climate programs that grew under President Obama. But the proposed 25% cut to the EPA’s budget would also slash funding to dozens of other initiatives that support clean air and water, which environmental and public health groups say would put human wellbeing at risk almost immediately.

“I can predict with certainty that if those cuts prevail — and I’m not predicting they will — millions of people around the country will be exposed to unhealthful air,” says Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. “It could literally be the difference between protecting public health and premature death.”

Donald Trump has repeatedly indicated that environmentalism is not his priority. Now, Climate scientists, policymakers and diplomats are questioning how his presidency will shape the future of climate change policy.

Continue reading “What President Trump’s Proposed EPA Budget Cuts Mean for Your Health”

Inside the GOP’s Latest Effort to Gut Science at the EPA

Inside the GOP’s Latest Effort to Gut Science at the EPA

Continue reading “Inside the GOP’s Latest Effort to Gut Science at the EPA”

8 Fossil Fuel Giants Pollute as Much as the Whole US, Study


An Oil refinery at twilight. (photo: Reuters)
An Oil refinery at twilight. (photo: Reuters)

8 Fossil Fuel Giants Pollute as Much as the Whole US, Study

By Jess Shankleman, Bloomberg

09 March 17

Aramco, Exxon among emitters of fifth of industrial emissions

ight of the world’s largest oil companies are responsible for as much of the climate-damaging pollution spewed into the atmosphere as the entire U.S., according to a study by a London-based researcher.

Saudi Aramco, Exxon Mobil Corp., OAO Gazprom, the National Iranian Oil Co., BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc were among the eight companies whose fuel was responsible for a third of emissions from oil and gas, according to the non-profit group CDP. The companies released a fifth of all greenhouse gases outside of farming and forestry since 1988, the year most governments acknowledged man-made climate change as a risk.

The findings suggest policymakers may be better off focusing on the practices of companies instead of national environmental policies. The study’s release coincides with preparations by U.S. President Donald Trump to slash environmental regulations and possibly withdraw from the landmark Paris Agreement, which promises to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial levels.

“One way to really drive forward climate action is to look at the key producers of fossil fuels who are causing the globe to warm, this is what the new CDP data brings to life,” said Paul Simpson, chief executive officer of CDP, which surveys companies and collects data on sustainability issues.

(photo: Bloomberg)




Continue reading “8 Fossil Fuel Giants Pollute as Much as the Whole US, Study”

How the EPA chief could gut the agency’s climate change regulations


How the EPA chief could gut the agency’s climate change regulations

How the EPA chief could gut the agency’s climate change regulations
© Getty

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is fueling speculation that he could try to repeal the lynchpin of the federal government’s climate change regulations.

In an interview Thursday with CNBC, Scott Pruitt cast doubt on his own agency’s 2009 conclusion that greenhouse gases “endanger both the public health and the public welfare of current and future generations.” 

The so-called endangerment finding was the backbone of the Obama administration’s climate change regulations. Under Obama, the EPA argued that the 2009 finding compelled it to issue greenhouse gas emissions limits for sectors like cars, trucks and power plants. 

But as Pruitt and President Trump look to unwind Obama’s major climate policies, the endangerment finding might be imperiled.

Continue reading “How the EPA chief could gut the agency’s climate change regulations”

Scott Pruitt’s office deluged with angry callers after he questions the science of global warming

Scott Pruitt’s office deluged with angry callers after he questions the science of global warming



March 10 at 7:53 PM

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s phones have been ringing off the hook — literally — since he questioned the link between human activity and climate change.

The calls to Pruitt’s main line, 202-564-4700, reached such a high volume by Friday that agency officials created an impromptu call center, according to three agency employees. The officials asked for anonymity out of fear of retaliation.

Interns were dispatched to answer some of the incoming calls, according to one employee. At times, calls to that number ended up going to voice mail.

EPA did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Continue reading “Scott Pruitt’s office deluged with angry callers after he questions the science of global warming”

Searching for Trump condemnation in Pope Francis’ words

Pope Francis warned against the rising tide of populism in an interview with German paper Die Zeit this week, reigniting an ongoing search for subliminal criticism of President Trump in the pope’s words.

“Pope Francis issues veiled warning about Donald Trump,” proclaimed the headline on British news site the Independent about the interview, though Francis had not mentioned Trump.

His statement, however, that “populism is evil and ends badly as the past century showed,” marks at least the second time in recent months that the pope has warned against the dangers of growing populist movements in the U.S. as well as Europe. His latest words echo similar pontifications made during an interview with Spanish-language paper El Pais on the day of Trump’s inauguration.

Continue reading “Searching for Trump condemnation in Pope Francis’ words”