With each day that passes, we are treated to a clearer picture of what a Donald Trump White House will look like, and the impact it will have on the environment, climate, and energy usage — and to be perfectly honest, the picture is becoming more and more grim with each day.
Donald Trump’s focus on the environment, climate, and energy is a big focus here at CleanTechnica — we’ve already looked at the initial attacks and plans of attack Donald Trump has made on the environment; calls from US business leaders to Trump urging him to focus on climate change; and the ensuing conflict between the Tennessee Valley Authority’s plans to spend $8 billion on clean power over the coming years compared with Donald Trump’s plans to increase coal jobs, among many other things.
Maybe the biggest news from the week (which missed the deadline for my previous Trump-related piece) was the response to Donald Trump’s moves by the outgoing chief of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Gina McCarthy.
“We’ve been very successful in the last five decades avoiding partisan politics,” McCarthy said at at the National Press Club in Washington earlier this week. “It really doesn’t matter whether you’re Republican or Democrat: You still want your kids to be healthy and sound.”
Speaking in defence of the country’s Clean Power Plan, McCarthy said, “But I truly believe, guided by President Obama’s deliberate vision, history will show that the Clean Power Plan marked a turning point in American climate leadership. A point where our country stepped up to the plate and delivered … and the world followed.”
Unsurprisingly, however, the news continues to roll in, bringing with it more nuggets revealing the potential makeup of Donald Trump’s White House administration, and the policies they plan to enact. Despite a call from the Climate Mayors — a group of 37 mayors grouping together to tackle climate change city by city — for Donald Trump to partner in their “work to clean our air, strengthen our economy, and ensure that our children inherit a nation healthier and better prepared for the future than it is today,” Donald Trump has nevertheless taken aim at what he has called “politicised science” and is planning several moves which will severely cripple the United States’ contributions to climate targets — climate targets that Donald Trump likely dismisses as irrelevant.
Added to Donald Trump’s State Department transition team on Monday was the Heritage Foundation’s Steven Groves, who has repeatedly called for the United States to abandon the Paris agreement — a decision which is almost universally agreed to be a monumentally bad decision. This falls in line with the appointment of Myron Ebell, who will head up the Environmental Protection Agency transition team — which we reported on earlier this week. The transition team for the Department of the Interior is similarly shaping up to be a winner for the fossil fuel industry, with numerous contenders for positions in the team boasting terrible environmental records, including names such as former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, and Representative Cynthia Lummis, a Republican with a lifetime environmental record score of 5% from the League of Conservation Voters.
To cap it all off, Donald Trump’s senior adviser on issues relating to NASA has confirmed that the incoming President is intending to eliminate all climate change research currently being conducted by the space agency, with the extra resources intended to be refocused towards deep space exploration. Bob Walker, Trump’s adviser, explained that there was no need for NASA to involve itself in what he has previously called “politically correct environmental monitoring,” and expects NASA to take the lead “in an exploration role, in deep space research,” adding:
“Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their primary mission.
“My guess is that it would be difficult to stop all ongoing NASA programs but future programs should definitely be placed with other agencies. I believe that climate research is necessary but it has been heavily politicised, which has undermined a lot of the work that researchers have been doing. Mr Trump’s decisions will be based upon solid science, not politicised science.”
Scientists from around the world have reacted bitterly and strongly in response to this news, including numerous scientists from Australia.
“Just as we have seen in Australia the attack on CSIRO climate science under the Coalition government, we now see the incoming Trump administration attacking NASA,” said Professor Ian Lowe, Emeritus Professor of Science, Technology and Society at Griffith University and a former President of the Australian Conservation Foundation.
“They obviously hope that pressure for action will be eased if the science is muffled.
“But with temperatures in the Arctic this week a startling 20 degrees above normal, no amount of waffle can disguise the need for urgent action to decarbonise our energy supply and immediately withdraw support for new coal mines.”
“Why a world leader in Earth observation should do this is beyond rational explanation,” added David Bowman, a Professor of Environmental Change Biology at The University of Tasmania.
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