In less than an hour after he took the oath of office, President Donald Trump removed links to former President Obama’s Climate Change website from whitehouse.gov. “With Trump in Charge, Climate Change References Purged from Website,” a New York Times headline announced.
Late Tuesday the president signed an order “to undo President Obama’s climate legacy,” the Times reported.
Experts say it will take time to withdraw from the climate accord, which is viewed as one of Obama’s – and his party’s – “signature accomplishments.” But when politicians or political parties announce a “signature issue,” the issue and resulting legislation become politicized.
Global warming became and remains an international political football, with nations pointing fingers at one another and demanding reduced emissions, which equate to reduced industrial output. Developing nations balked and directed the blame at developed nations, such as the U.S.
Obama’s climate website was removed from whitehouse.gov, but its content was moved to another government web site as an archived resource. The original site was not your typical government web site. It contained impressive photography and graphics, and it pledged to save the planet. It looked and sounded like a politician. It was handsome, smart and full of promises.
Of course, throughout the Obama years, scientists who argued that the earth’s temperature and climate have been changing since the planet was formed were rarely quoted.
One hint that Earth’s temperatures change over time is “The Pause” – a now 19-year pause in increasing global temperatures.
This 19-year pause became a topic at a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, when Texas Sen. Ted Cruz questioned Sierra Club president Aaron Mair, who stated that 97 percent of scientists agree that there is global warming and anthropogenic impact.
Cruz reminded Mair of a 2012 poll of American Meteorological Society members that reported a diversity of opinion, with 59 percent stating that human activity was the primary cause, 11 percent attributed it to human activity and natural causes in about equal measure, and about a quarter who said enough is not yet known to make any determination.
There are other inconvenient truths, such as Earth’s geologic history, which includes glaciers that covered much of the planet, including North America, and predictions that such freezing will return, as noted by The U.S. Geological Survey’s web site:
“The Great Ice Age, a recent chapter in the Earth’s history, was a period of recurring widespread glaciations…and vast glaciers, in places as much as several thousand feet thick, spread across northern North America and Eurasia. So extensive were these glaciers that almost a third of the present land surface of the Earth was intermittently covered by ice.”
“After a period of warm and equable climate, worldwide climatic refrigeration initiated the Great Ice Age glaciers. At times during the Great Ice Age, the climate was cooler and wetter and, at times warmer and drier, than today. Many attempts have been made to account for these climatic fluctuations, but their ultimate cause remains unclear. Although we cannot predict a period of climatic cooling, another Ice Age in the future is a possibility.”
The ultimate cause remains unclear? Another Ice Age is a possibility?
If politicizing science isn’t bad enough, there are reports of scientists who assert there have been attempts to silence their opposing opinions.
Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., a climate scientist, reported in a Wall Street Journal article that the Obama Administration campaigned to have him silenced. Pielke says a staffer at the Center for American Progress, which was founded by John Podesta, an influential Democrat, worked to drive him out of the climate change discussion.
Ironically, Pielke has written that he believes climate change is real, and that human emissions of greenhouse gases risk justifying action, including a carbon tax.
Obama’s climate website promoted a signature agenda, and pandered to environmentalists and liberals who see heavy industry– typically the largest polluters– as anathema to the environment.
And now Trump and team are politicizing the issue as well, in defense of workers who have lost jobs to shuttered factories, mines and power plants. Many older coal-fueled plants were closed – but mostly because they were no longer efficient, or were too old to warrant investments in the latest pollution controls, and could not compete with cheaper natural gas generation.
In the meantime, China continues to build coal-fueled power plants, according to Bloomberg, which reports China’s coal-fueled power generation capacity will grow as much as 19 percent over the next five years.
While this conflict is the essence of democracy – opposing opinions freely expressed, debated, and maligned – it’s also evidence that climate change is as much about political – and geopolitical – science, as it is about atmospheric science.
Tal Wright is an Atlanta area media/marketing communications consultant.