TWITE 08.10.17

Posted August 09, 2017

In today’s edition of This Week in the Environment, we’re looking at forces within our government that are choosing to embrace and promote “alternative facts” instead of responsibly leading our country. As you read each of this week’s articles, I urge you to consider what the motivations behind the decisions made were, and who they really benefit. Only by addressing the root cause, not the smokescreen too often blown in front of our eyes, can we work toward the kind of systemic changes needed to make America truly great. America is only at its best when its people face the truth unblinking and strive toward peace and equality for all. Don’t bury your head in the sand trap. Stand, face the facts, and be the leaders you want to see.

—Jon Conway, Ph.D., Greenpower Research Director

5. Trump Moves to Increase Subsidy for Coal Mining on Federal Lands New York Magazine

It’s not every day a decision is made that is simultaneously offensive to the open market, the environment, and nearly every single American taxpayer. The Trump administration has managed just that by reversing an Obama-era fix to a loophole that allows coal companies to cheat U.S. taxpayers out of billions of dollars every year—on top of the trillions in subsidies the global fossil fuel industry already receives. This is (we hope) the capstone to a series of moves giving the coal industry access to federal lands while rolling back environmental protections. With this regulatory unholy trinity in place, coal companies are free to exploit public lands for private gain while paying a pittance in taxes and passing on the near-incalculable health and environmental costs to communities and future generations.

4. US Federal Department is Censoring Use of Term 'Climate Change', Emails Reveal The Guardian

In much the same way that blaming a shooting death on the bullet holes instead of the person who pulled the trigger is useful in preventing gun violence, the USDA is now forbidding its staff from using terminology related to climate change. This politicization and censorship of what should be objective scientific communication is nothing new to this administration, beginning within the hour after Trump’s inauguration with the scrubbing of the White House website. History has shown that trying to manipulate the truth to fit your heavily-skewed political ideology is a fool’s errand, but that too is nothing new to this administration.

"To think that federal agency staff who report about the air, water and soil that sustains the health of our nation must conform their reporting with the Trump administration’s anti-science rhetoric is appalling and dangerous for America and the greater global community." Meg Townsend, Center for Biological Diversity attorney

3. Scott Pruitt Brushes Off ‘So-Called Settled Science’ on Conservative Radio Show ThinkProgress

EPA head Scott Pruitt is continuing to push for a “red team-blue team” climate science debate as part of his crusade against the unstoppable reality of climate change. At first glance it might seem that, as a non-scientist, Pruitt is simply unaware that every published scientific article already goes through an intense peer review process. This is doubly true for climate science, which is painstakingly scrutinized before presentation to the public due to the current atmosphere of mistrust and denial. When put into context, however, it is clear that he is attempting to skew and twist the settled science of climate change to fit the agenda of the fossil fuel interests who own the Trump administration. Don’t be fooled—this is not something done out of ignorance. This is their attempt to lie and deceive, fueled by greed and fear.

2. Trump Files Notice with UN to Withdraw US from Paris Climate Deal The Hill

Trump’s decision to officially submit a document informing the UN he intends to pull the US from the Paris agreement, on the other hand, may actually be due to ignorance. The document holds no legal weight, and since the US cannot withdraw from the agreement until the day after the next presidential election in three years, signifies little beyond what Trump has already stated in his live announcement or social media posts. At this point, even this symbolic gesture is largely meaningless given the tremendous outpouring of support for the Paris agreement shown by states, counties, cities, businesses, organizations, and individuals. For a complete list of those still supporting the agreement, go to http://wearestillin.com/.

1. Climate Report Could Force Trump to Choose Between Science and His Base New York Times

What does it say about a country when a group of experts feel it necessary to leak a report pertaining to an existential threat to avoid government censorship? This is exactly what happened earlier this week, when federal climate scientists sent a draft of the latest National Climate Assessment report to the New York Times so that the public could read an uncensored version before it passed through the hands of the Trump administration. This will be the fourth Climate Science Special Report to be released, but the first to be leaked. Each president has responded differently to these updates, but even with George W. Bush’s obfuscations and delays, scientists did not feel the need to leak the report. What makes Trump different?

"A lot of it’s a hoax, it’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a moneymaking industry, O.K.? It’s a hoax, a lot of it." Donald Trump, current President of the United States and fossil fuel industry donation recipient, in reference to anthropogenic climate change.

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