Archives for category: Environment

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin insulted environmental activist Greta Thunberg at the World Economic Forum in Davos, saying she should study economics. Although I’m no economist, it seems to me that the cost of intensified earthquakes, hurricanes, rising seas, and the health risks associated with extreme climate events far outweighs the profits of the fossil fuel industry. But then, I’m no economist.

The Washington Post consulted an economist:

Speaking to reporters at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Switzerland, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was asked about calls from climate change activists such as Greta Thunberg for investors to pull their money out of fossil fuel stocks.

Mnuchin jokingly pretended to be unfamiliar with Thunberg, who even while still a teenager has become a leading global proponent of addressing the warming planet. Last year, she was Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.”

Is she the chief economist or who is she? I’m confused,” Mnuchin said of Thunberg. He questioned her credentials to offer solutions: “After she goes and studies economics in college, she can come back and explain that to us.”

The Washington Post contacted someone who did study economics in college and asked him to explain it to us. Gernot Wagner is an economist who has a joint A.B. in economics and environmental science in public policy from Harvard University, a master’s degree in economics from Stanford University, a master’s in political economy in government from Harvard, and a PhD in political economy and government from Harvard.

According to Wagner, Thunberg doesn’t need to go much further than Economics 101 to make her case.

Speaking specifically about calls to divest, Wagner pointed to a letter released this month by BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink. In it, Fink announced the asset management firm he controls will divest — move investments away — from companies like those that are centered on fossil fuels and contribute to climate change.

The evidence on climate risk is compelling investors to reassess core assumptions about modern finance,” Fink wrote in the letter, according to the New York Times. 

It’s precisely this scenario of having fossil fuels go the way of tobacco that makes fossil fuel execs the most nervous,” Wagner told The Post. He noted that Shell Oil Co. predicted the rise of activists focused on climate change — back in 1998.

But, again, the question is economics, not politics.

Wagner, who spent nearly a decade working for the Environmental Defense Fund, explained the economic argument for applying pressure on oil companies.
“It’s Economics 101 that tells us that when there is a difference between private costs and costs to society, that difference ought to be included in one’s decision-making,” Wagner said.

“And when I say ought, of course the private individual won’t; it’s up to somebody in a position of power — let’s say the secretary of Treasury — to want to guide economic policy in the right direction.”

Make no mistake: The Trump administration is at war against science. It has stripped science advisors out of every agency, making sure that the federal government doesn’t make decisions based on evidence.

A note to science teachers: Read the following articles and remember that it is on you to build respect for science and for evidence alive for future generations.

Alan Singer details a long list of specific actions taken by the Trump regime to squelch science in the realm of climate change and public health in this post.

He writes:

Our house is on fire” and the Trump Administration war on science is fanning the flames. In 2019, Donald Trump continued his war against science, public health, the environment and climate awareness On November 4, 2019, two years after Trump announced his intentions, the United States began the official process of withdrawing from 2015 Paris Climate Accord. In September, when sixteen-year old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg delivered an impassioned speech at the United Nations demanding climate action, Trump dismissed her on his twitter account. He cyber-bullied her again after she spoke at a U.N. Climate Action Summit in December.

While withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord was definitely Trump’s most publicized and probably most dastardly attack on the world’s future, his administration and his twitter account also attacked science and environmental safety in the United States during 2019 through smaller, lesser known, but damaging claims and decisions. These are documented on the website Silencing Science Tracker, a joint initiative of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund and at other sources. What follows are some of the Trump Administration low points from 2019 in chronological order. It is a very long list and very frightening.

The New York Times published a long article about the administration’s efforts to eliminate science in every agency where it matters.

Reporters Brad Plumer and Coral Davenport begin their comprehensive story:

In just three years, the Trump administration has diminished the role of science in federal policymaking while halting or disrupting research projects nationwide, marking a transformation of the federal government whose effects, experts say, could reverberate for years.

Political appointees have shut down government studies, reduced the influence of scientists over regulatory decisions and in some cases pressured researchers not to speak publicly. The administration has particularly challenged scientific findings related to the environment and public health opposed by industries such as oil drilling and coal mining. It has also impeded research around human-caused climate change, which President Trump has dismissed despite a global scientific consensus.

But the erosion of science reaches well beyond the environment and climate: In San Francisco, a study of the effects of chemicals on pregnant women has stalled after federal funding abruptly ended. In Washington, D.C., a scientific committee that provided expertise in defending against invasive insects has been disbanded. In Kansas City, Mo., the hasty relocation of two agricultural agencies that fund crop science and study the economics of farming has led to an exodus of employees and delayed hundreds of millions of dollars in research.

“The disregard for expertise in the federal government is worse than it’s ever been,” said Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, which has tracked more than 200 reports of Trump administration efforts to restrict or misuse science since 2017. “It’s pervasive.”

Hundreds of scientists, many of whom say they are dismayed at seeing their work undone, are departing.

Among them is Matthew Davis, a biologist whose research on the health risks of mercury to children underpinned the first rules cutting mercury emissions from coal power plants. But last year, with a new baby of his own, he was asked to help support a rollback of those same rules. “I am now part of defending this darker, dirtier future,” he said.

This year, after a decade at the Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Davis left.

“Regulations come and go, but the thinning out of scientific capacity in the government will take a long time to get back,” said Joel Clement, a former top climate-policy expert at the Interior Department who quit in 2017 after being reassigned to a job collecting oil and gas royalties. He is now at the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group.

Mr. Trump has consistently said that government regulations have stifled businesses and thwarted some of the administration’s core goals, such as increasing fossil-fuel production. Many of the starkest confrontations with federal scientists have involved issues like environmental oversight and energy extraction — areas where industry groups have argued that regulators have gone too far in the past.

“Businesses are finally being freed of Washington’s overreach, and the American economy is flourishing as a result,” a White House statement said last year. Asked about the role of science in policymaking, officials from the White House declined to comment on the record.

The administration’s efforts to cut certain research projects also reflect a longstanding conservative position that some scientific work can be performed cost-effectively by the private sector, and taxpayers shouldn’t be asked to foot the bill. “Eliminating wasteful spending, some of which has nothing to do with studying the science at all, is smart management, not an attack on science,” two analysts at the conservative Heritage Foundation wrote in 2017 of the administration’s proposals to eliminate various climate change and clean energy programs.

Industry groups have expressed support for some of the moves, including a contentious E.P.A. proposal to put new constraints on the use of scientific studies in the name of transparency. The American Chemistry Council, a chemical trade group, praised the proposal by saying, “The goal of providing more transparency in government and using the best available science in the regulatory process should be ideals we all embrace.”

In some cases, the administration’s efforts to roll back government science have been thwarted. Each year, Mr. Trump has proposed sweeping budget cuts at a variety of federal agencies like the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. But Congress has the final say over budget levels and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have rejected the cuts.

For instance, in supporting funding for the Department of Energy’s national laboratories, Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, recently said, “it allows us to take advantage of the United States’ secret weapon, our extraordinary capacity for basic research.”

As a result, many science programs continue to thrive, including space exploration at NASA and medical research at the National Institutes of Health, where the budget has increased more than 12 percent since Mr. Trump took office and where researchers continue to make advances in areas like molecular biology and genetics.

Nevertheless, in other areas, the administration has managed to chip away at federal science.

At the E.P.A., for instance, staffing has fallen to its lowest levels in at least a decade. More than two-thirds of respondents to a survey of federal scientists across 16 agencies said that hiring freezes and departures made it harder to conduct scientific work. And in June, the White House ordered agencies to cut by one-third the number of federal advisory boards that provide technical advice.

The White House said it aimed to eliminate committees that were no longer necessary. Panels cut so far had focused on issuesincluding invasive species and electric grid innovation.

At a time when the United States is pulling back from world leadership in other areas like human rights or diplomatic accords, experts warn that the retreat from science is no less significant. Many of the achievements of the past century that helped make the United States an envied global power, including gains in life expectancy, lowered air pollution and increased farm productivity are the result of the kinds of government research now under pressure.

“When we decapitate the government’s ability to use science in a professional way, that increases the risk that we start making bad decisions, that we start missing new public health risks,” said Wendy E. Wagner, a professor of law at the University of Texas at Austin who studies the use of science by policymakers.

Skirmishes over the use of science in making policy occur in all administrations: Industries routinely push back against health studies that could justify stricter pollution rules, for example. And scientists often gripe about inadequate budgets for their work. But many experts say that current efforts to challenge research findings go well beyond what has been done previously.

In an article published in the journal Science last year, Ms. Wagner wrote that some of the Trump administration’s moves, like a policy to restrict certain academics from the E.P.A.’s Science Advisory Board or the proposal to limit the types of research that can be considered by environmental regulators, “mark a sharp departure with the past.” Rather than isolated battles between political officials and career experts, she said, these moves are an attempt to legally constrain how federal agencies use science in the first place.

Some clashes with scientists have sparked public backlash, as when Trump officials pressured the nation’s weather forecasting agency to support the president’s erroneous assertion this year that Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama.

But others have garnered little notice despite their significance.

This year, for instance, the National Park Service’s principal climate change scientist, Patrick Gonzalez, received a “cease and desist” letter from supervisors after testifying to Congress about the risks that global warming posed to national parks.

“I saw it as attempted intimidation,” said Dr. Gonzalez, who added that he was speaking in his capacity as an associate adjunct professor at the University California, Berkeley, a position he also holds. “It’s interference with science and hinders our work.”

Even though Congress hasn’t gone along with Mr. Trump’s proposals for budget cuts at scientific agencies, the administration has still found ways to advance its goals.

One strategy: eliminate individual research projects not explicitly protected by Congress.

For example, just months after Mr. Trump’s election, the Commerce Department disbanded a 15-person scientific committee that had explored how to make National Climate Assessments, the congressionally mandated studies of the risks of climate change, more useful to local officials. It also closed its Office of the Chief Economist, which for decades had conducted wide-ranging research on topics like the economic effects of natural disasters. Similarly, the Interior Department has withdrawn funding for its Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, 22 regional research centers that tackled issues like habitat loss and wildfire management. While California and Alaska used state money to keep their centers open, 16 of 22 remain in limbo.

A Commerce Department official said the climate committee it discontinued had not produced a report, and highlighted other efforts to promote science, such as a major upgrade of the nation’s weather models.

An Interior Department official said the agency’s decisions “are solely based on the facts and grounded in the law,” and that the agency would continue to pursue other partnerships to advance conservation science.

Research that potentially posed an obstacle to Mr. Trump’s promise to expand fossil-fuel production was halted, too. In 2017, Interior officials canceled a $1 million study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on the health risks of “mountaintop removal” coal mining in places like West Virginia.

Mountaintop removal is as dramatic as it sounds — a hillside is blasted with explosives and the remains are excavated — but the health consequences still aren’t fully understood. The process can kick up coal dust and send heavy metals into waterways, and a number of studies have suggested links to health problems like kidney disease and birth defects.

“The industry was pushing back on these studies,” said Joseph Pizarchik, an Obama-era mining regulator who commissioned the now-defunct study. “We didn’t know what the answer would be,” he said, “but we needed to know: Was the government permitting coal mining that was poisoning people, or not?”

While coal mining has declined in recent years, satellite data showsthat at least 60 square miles in Appalachia have been newly mined since 2016. “The study is still as important today as it was five years ago,” Mr. Pizarchik said.

The cuts can add up to significant research setbacks.

For years, the E.P.A. and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences had jointly funded 13 children’s health centers nationwide that studied, among other things, the effects of pollution on children’s development. This year, the E.P.A. ended its funding.

At the University of California, San Francisco, one such center has been studying how industrial chemicals such as flame retardants in furniture could affect placenta and fetal development. Key aspects of the research have now stopped.

“The longer we go without funding, the harder it is to start that research back up,” said Tracey Woodruff, who directs the center.

In a statement, the E.P.A. said it anticipated future opportunities to fund children’s health research.

At the Department of Agriculture, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced in June he would relocate two key research agencies to Kansas City from Washington: The National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a scientific agency that funds university research on topics like how to breed cattle and corn that can better tolerate drought conditions, and the Economic Research Service, whose economists produce studies for policymakers on farming trends, trade and rural America.

Nearly 600 employees had less than four months to decide whether to uproot and move. Most couldn’t or wouldn’t, and two-thirds of those facing transfer left their jobs.

In August, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, appeared to celebrate the departures.

“It’s nearly impossible to fire a federal worker,” he said in videotaped remarks at a Republican Party gala in South Carolina. “But by simply saying to people, ‘You know what, we’re going to take you outside the bubble, outside the Beltway, outside this liberal haven of Washington, D.C., and move you out in the real part of the country,’ and they quit. What a wonderful way to sort of streamline government and do what we haven’t been able to do for a long time.”

The White House declined to comment on Mr. Mulvaney’s speech.

The exodus has led to upheaval.

At the Economic Research Service, dozens of planned studies into topics like dairy industry consolidation and pesticide use have been delayed or disrupted. “You can name any topic in agriculture and we’ve lost an expert,” said Laura Dodson, an economist and acting vice president of the union representing agency employees.

We live in an era where ignorance and stupidity are valued more than evidence and scientific inquiry.

If this continues, our society will go backwards, and our climate–the air we breathe, the water we drink, the oceans and the climate that sustains life–will be jeopardized.

We are an endangered species, endangered by ignorance.

I fear we are becoming insensitive to shock in the Trump era. And the very concept of “government ethics” seems to be an oxymoron in this era. Here are two shocking reports by Teresa Hanafin, who writes the Fast Forward commentary of the Boston Globe:

Trump holds another campaign rally tonight, this time in Toledo. Earlier in the day, he’s scheduled to announce some proposed National Environmental Policy Act regulations, and that’s never a good thing.

Trump is dramatically reducing the authority of the act, signed by Richard Nixon in 1970. The idea was that the federal government would protect the environment from excess by assessing the impacts of major projects — and include the public in the deliberations. Trump’s instinct is to protect private companies from any restrictions, nature be damned.

His action will make it easier to for companies to build pipelines, clear-cut forests, dig mines, drill for oil, etc.

It’s in keeping with the entire anti-environment stance of his administration. The New York Times found that Trump has reversed 58 policies related to air pollution and emissions, drilling and extraction, infrastructure, animals, toxic substances and safety, water pollution, and more. And he is in the process of rolling back another 37 regulations, for 95 in all.

Some of his actions have been reversed by courts because they violated the environmental policy act, so now he’s gutting the act. Scientists say Trump’s rollbacks could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality every year. Economist Paul Krugman predicts that environmental destruction will be a lasting legacy of what he calls the Republican Party of Pollution.


Ho hum, another day, another Trump coverup. This time Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is trying to prevent Congress from finding out how much the Secret Service is spending on protecting Trump and his family during their frequent and extensive travels until after the November election.

This issue has arisen because Mnuchin is asking Congress to move the Secret Service back into his department — it was moved to Homeland Security after 9/11 — and congressional Democrats are using the request to try to pry travel cost information out of the service.

Despite the service’s failure to file reports about its spending on Trump’s travel, and the White House’s refusal to answer congressional questions about travel spending (what are they trying to hide?), there are some things we do know, according to The Washington Post:

— Trump has visited his properties outside of the D.C. area, such as Mar-a-Lago in Florida and his golf club in New Jersey, more than 50 times in the past three years.

— The government spent about $96 million on travel by Barack Obama during his eight years as president. Trump’s travel cost taxpayers $13.6 million in just one month in early 2017. At that pace, Trump would have exceeded Obama’s eight-year total in just seven months. Nothing succeeds like excess!

— Every time Trump goes to Mar-a-Lago, it costs taxpayers $3.4 million.For each trip.

— The Secret Service has spent $588,000 just on golf cart rentalsfollowing around the guy who said during his campaign that he was going to be too busy working to golf.

— Trump’s adult children also are gorging at the taxpayer trough. Even though they could easily afford private security, Don Jr. and Eric Trump,who don’t have a government job like Ivanka and aren’t students like Tiffany, take Secret Service protection when they travel overseas for their private business or go on illegal hunting trips.

One example: When Eric visited Uruguay in 2017 to promote the Trump Organization, he stuck US taxpayers with a bill of nearly $100,000 for hotel rooms to put up Secret Service and embassy staff. As the Post pointed out:

The Uruguayan trip shows how the government is unavoidably entangled with the Trump company as a result of the president’s refusal to divest his ownership stake. In this case, government agencies are forced to pay to support business operations that ultimately help to enrich the president himself. Though the Trumps have pledged a division of business and government, they will nevertheless depend on the publicly funded protection granted to the first family as they travel the globe promoting their brand.

Apparently Mnuchin’s refusal to tell Congress how much taxpayer money Trump is spending on travel security until after the election is causing some Democrats to withdraw their support for his request.

At his website, “A Writer’s Almanac,” Garrison Keillor writes:

On this date in 2004, a tsunami devastated coastlines along the Indian Ocean. It was triggered by an earthquake in the middle of the ocean, 160 miles west of Sumatra. With a magnitude of between 9.1 and 9.3, the quake was the third strongest ever recorded on a seismograph, and it lasted for up to 10 minutes. It occurred when pressure built up along a 600-mile fault line between two tectonic plates to such a degree that one plate slipped underneath the other. The quake occurred in relatively shallow water, which meant that the energy was not dispersed as much as it would have been in deeper seas. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the quake released energy equivalent to 23,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs. The quake was so powerful that it vibrated the whole planet and actually changed the Earth’s rotation very slightly.

The shifting of the plates raised the sea floor by about 10 yards, and this displaced massive amounts of water. The tsunami chain that this generated reached the Sumatra coast within 15 minutes. The waves — which started small but grew as high as 50 feet — wiped out whole villages in seconds. The tsunami even claimed lives in South Africa, up to 3,000 miles away from the epicenter of the quake. An estimated 230,000 people from 14 different countries died; half a million more were injured. Five million people required humanitarian aid. A ship weighing almost 3,000 tons was thrown almost a mile inland, where it remains a tourist attraction in Indonesia. But there were very few animal casualties; many people reported seeing animals fleeing for higher ground just minutes before the tsunami struck.

Two years after the quake and tsunami, the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System went into operation, and it was successfully put to the test in 2012, when more quakes hit the Indian Ocean.

Remember that Trump likes to boast of his love for “clean, beautiful” coal.

Now Murray Energy is filing for bankruptcy and will shed $8 billion in pension and health-care liabilities owed to miners.

NPR reports that Murray was one of Trump’s biggest funders:

The Trump administration has spent three years trying to help the coal industry by rolling back environmental regulations and pushing for subsidies for coal-fired power plants. Still, the long list of coal company bankruptcies has continued, and dozens more plants have announced their retirement since President Trump took office.

Now the list of bankruptcies includes a company headed by one of Trump’s most vocal supporters. Murray Energy Corp. filed for Chapter 11 on Tuesday morning.

The company says it reached an agreement to restructure and continue operating. As part of that, Bob Murray — the chairman, president and CEO — will relinquish two of his roles. His nephew, Robert Moore, will become president and CEO while Murray will stay on as chairman.

“When you’re a private company and you’re in financial failure, the first person that loses everything is the owner. And that’s what will happen,” Murray tells NPR.

Murray has had a close relationship with the Trump administration. He donated $300,000 to Trump’s inauguration and has met with administration officials to advance the coal industry’s interests.

Dino Grandoni of the Washington Post writes:

Murray Energy Corp., the nation’s largest private coal giant, filed for Chapter 11 protection on Tuesday, Taylor Telford and I reported Tuesday. That move makes it the fifth coal company to land in bankruptcy court in 2019 as coal is being being squeezed out of the U.S. power market by cheaper options such as natural gas, solar and wind power.

The long-anticipated bankruptcy proceedings also put the United Mine Workers of America’s already fragile and underfunded pension plan on even shakier ground, The situation could potentially spur a divided Congress and Trump, who has championed coal workers, to bail out the miners. Currently, Murray Energy pays into the pension plan for UMWA, which represents a large chunk of the company’s full-time employees…

But it is underfunded also because other coal companies have shed their pension obligations through bankruptcy. Among the billions of dollars of debt Murray Energy wants to restructure — or get rid of entirely — are its contributions to the pension plan. Excluding one of its subsidies that is not part of the bankruptcy proceedings, Murray Energy with about $2.7 billion in funded debt, as well about $8 billion in actual or potential obligations to fund pension and benefit plans, according to court filings.

Robert Moore, the company’s new CEO, hinted in a court filing that Murray Energy may seek relief from its pension obligations.

“Murray’s employees are its lifeblood… Nonetheless, the cost of servicing its funded debt, together with the myriad of obligations Murray has to current and former employees, including to a pension fund that has been abandoned by other employers, have substantially reduced liquidity,” Moore wrote to the bankruptcy court. a court filing….

Manchin and some other senators, including Republicans Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) and Rob Portman (Ohio), have pushed for legislation that would transfer certain federal funds into the pension plan.

“We’re talking about 82,000 miners who are going to lose their pensions, and we’re fighting this,” Manchin, whose state is home to large Murray Energy operations, said in a radio interview on West Virginia MetroNews on Tuesday.

But the idea of the federal government bailing out the union miners has divided Senate Republicans. Other budget-minded senators from coal-mining states, such as Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), have objected to using federal appropriations to bail out a private pension plan.

Standing in the middle of that divided Republican caucus is the most powerful coal-state senator of all: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

Manchin accuses McConnell of “still sitting on” his bill. McConnell met with UMWA members from Kentucky earlier this year and shares their concerns about the potential insolvency, according to McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer. While his office added that McConnell “supports the ongoing process to find a bipartisan solution for pension reform,” it did not commit to bringing any particular legislation to the floor.

Sixteen-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg spoke at the UN Climate Conference today. Trump skipped the meeting to attend a discussion of religious freedom. Last Friday, Thunberg inspired millions of students around the world to demonstrate on behalf of action to address the climate crisis.

She said today:

“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be standing here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean.

Yet you all come to me for hope? How dare you.

You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth.

How dare you.

For more than 30 years the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away, and come here saying that you are doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.

You say you ‘hear’ us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I don’t want to believe that. Because if you fully understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And I refuse to believe that.

To have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5C global temperature rise – the best odds given by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the world had 420 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide left to emit back on January 1st, 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatonnes. How dare you pretend that this can be solved with business-as-usual and some technical solutions. With today’s emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone in less than eight and a half years.

There will not be any solutions or plans presented in line with these figures today. Because these numbers are too uncomfortable. And you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is.

You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this.

Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”


And a little child shall lead them.

Students are joining protests today to demand action on climate change.

One teen has become the face of this movement: Greta Thunberg.

She has been tireless in calling attention to the need to take action now to save the planet.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/20/us/greta-thunberg-profile-weir/index.html

In the U.S., Trump has been tireless in rolling back every environmental protection. Even his children and grandchildren will suffer because of his war on clean air and clean water.

Greta speaks:

https://mashable.com/video/greta-thunberg-amnesty-international-speech/

If you want more Greta, open this:

https://www.fridaysforfuture.org/greta-speeches

Trump took action today to prevent California from having fuel standards tougher than those of the federal government. This is a Republican who doesn’t believe in local or state control or in the Environmental Protection Agency l, created by President Nixon.

Conservatives conserve. Trump destroys and despoils.

https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2019-09-17/trump-revokes-california-environmental-authority-auto-deal

President Trump is expected to revoke a decades-old rule that empowers California to set tougher car pollution standards than those required by the federal government — putting the state and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on a path to years of fighting in court.

The EPA had no official comment on the plan, which has been in the works for much of the last three years and is expected to be announced while Trump is in California for a campaign fundraising trip.

 

 

Harold Meyerson of The American Prospect writes about the unique power of the youngest freshman in Congress:

 

AOC’s Achievement: Making Americans’ Progressive Beliefs Politically Acceptable. Of all the reasons that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is driving the right crazy, one of the most important is this: She’s advancing presumably radical ideas (by the right’s standards, anyway) that actually have massive public support.

Green New Deal? Fuzzy though its meanings may be, it brings together regional development policies for the huge region of the country that private capital has long since abandoned, climate change policies in a nation where climate-change apprehension is at an all-time high, full employment and decent wage policies for a nation where even voters in Republican states are casting ballots for higher wages and better jobs. Before AOC, whose radar was a Green New Deal even on? Since she joined the protestors in Nancy Pelosi’s office, a far-flung majority of Americans now see it as a way to address all manner of problems.

Likewise with taxing the rich. When AOC made the case for a 70 percent tax rate on annual income over the $10 million threshold, CNN’s Anderson Cooper responded as if she’d just called for collective farms. Now that Senator Elizabeth Warren is proposing a wealth tax that would compel the rich to pay an even fairer share of their bounty to support the common good, pundits are beginning to notice that the public has been supporting much higher taxes on the rich for a very long time. Since 2003, Gallup has annually asked the public whether they believe the level of taxes the rich pay is too high, too low or just right. The percentage saying “too low” has been in the 60-percent-to-70-percent range every year.

So it’s not hard to see why AOC is driving the right crazy. Forget the dancing, not to mention the racism and sexism that underpins many of the right’s complaints. It’s that she’s giving voice to progressive ideas that the public actually supports but that have long gone unvoiced by nearly everyone in power who has a megaphone they could use. She’s game-changingly brilliant at promoting progressive public policy. To the right, if I may steal from the Bard, such women are dangerous. ~ HAROLD MEYERSON

The Trump administration released an ominous report on climate change in the middle of the Thanksgiving weekend, on a Friday at 2 pm. It hoped to bury the consensus of 17 federal agencies. But the facts won’t stay buried, no matter how much politicians try.

The Washington Post published an editorial, summarizing the report’s ominous warnings.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/our-climate-reality-will-catch-up-to-us-no-matter-how-hard-trump-tries-to-bury-the-evidence/2018/11/26/9250d57c-f1c1-11e8-80d0-f7e1948d55f4_story.html

IF YOU did not hear about the major new federal climate change report, the Trump administration will be pleased. The report was released the day after Thanksgiving — when many people were distracted — probably because it contradicts practically everything President Trump has said and done on global warming. The Fourth National Climate Assessment is yet another reminder that reality will catch up to the United States, no matter how much the president tries to ignore and deny it.

The world is heating up, and there are no “credible natural explanations for this amount of warming.” U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions have decreased a bit lately. But they need to go down much further and faster to avoid dire consequences.

Already, the nation is seeing “intensifying droughts, increasing heavy downpours, reducing snowpack,” as well as “declines in surface water quality.” Without a course change, increasingly depleted groundwater, rising seas and other effects will make it more difficult to farm and provide enough water for large cities.

Foodborne and waterborne diseases will spread. Disease-carrying ticks and mosquitoes will be more common. Extreme heat will cause more deaths. Wildfires and insect infestations will overwhelm U.S. forests. Sea ice will melt and coral reef ecosystems will dissolve. Power outages and fuel shortages will be more frequent. Roads and bridges will swamp. Pipelines will become unsafe. Waterside property will be increasingly unusable. Fisheries will dwindle.

“Even if significant emissions reductions occur, many of the effects from sea level rise over this century — and particularly through mid-century — are already locked in due to historical emissions,” the report explains, underscoring the necessity for coastal communities to prepare. On the horizon is “the potential need for millions of people and billions of dollars of coastal infrastructure to be relocated.”

Critics of acting on climate change often cite the possible economic costs. But not acting has costs, too. The experts expect “substantial net damage to the U.S. economy throughout this century,” finding that “with continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century — more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many U.S. states.”

And the damage will be long-lasting. “The climate change resulting from human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide will persist for decades to millennia. Self-reinforcing cycles within the climate system have the potential to accelerate human-induced change and even shift Earth’s climate system into new states that are very different from those experienced in the recent past,” the report notes.

The White House responded to the report by misrepresenting scientists’ work and promising “fuller information” in the next analysis. Cooking the next report will not change the facts. Mr. Trump and the Republican Party have been negligent stewards of the country’s irreplaceable resources. Future Americans will not forgive or forget what these “leaders” did to them. Playing games with report release schedules won’t change that.