Donald Trump — charter member of the Zero Intelligence Club — slunk home from Hanoi recently with his tail between his legs after suffering the worst public humiliation of a US president in modern history as he was outplayed and outmaneuvered by Little Rocket Man.
How utterly ironic that Trump suffered his worst ever defeat in Hanoi after bragging that his personal Vietnam was avoiding sexually transmitted diseases while American soldiers were fighting and dying in that troubled country. In a slap in the face to every soldier who did serve, Trump claimed a woman’s vagina is the equivalent of a land mine, so his sexual exploits during the 60s and 70s were like a combat experience. Now he is Commander in Chief of the US military. Go figure.
Upon arriving home, Trump ran straight into the warm embrace of the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he literally wrapped himself in the American flag and hurled thunderbolts at his detractors. One of his targets was the Green New Deal. According to The Guardian, the crowd roared its approval when he said, “I think the new green deal, or whatever the hell they call it. The Green New Deal, right? I encourage it. I think it’s really something that they should promote. No planes. No energy. When the wind stops blowing, that’s the end of your electric. ‘Let’s hurry up. Darling, darling, is the wind blowing today? I’d like to watch television, darling.’”
Doubling Down On Climate Denial
The New York Times reports that senior White House staff members are considering the formation of a panel to attack the findings of the National Climate Assessment released last fall. One of the members of that panel will likely be William Happer, a physicist at Princeton who claims that there is no such thing as too much carbon dioxide. Trees and crops need it to grow, therefore it is, ipso facto, beneficial to humanity.
If 97% of climate scientists agree global warming is happening and human activity is largely responsible, Happer is solidly in the 3% who say exactly the opposite. In 2014, Happer stated publicly “the demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler,” according to Esquire. “There is no precedent for something like this,” said Douglas Brinkley, a historian who has written books about five US presidents. “Other presidents have attacked policy initiatives, but not science.”
Adding insult to injury, Trump this week nominated Kelly Knight Craft to be the next US ambassador to the United Nations. In a 2017 interview, Craft stated she believes there are “scientists on both sides that are accurate.” The appointment has drawn fire from Republicans. R. Nicholas Burns, who served as under secretary of state for political affairs in the administration of George W. Bush, tells the New York Times, “She’s taken this bizarre position. She will find that in New York, at the Security Council, climate change is one of the top issues. If the representative of the world’s largest economy and one of the largest emitters doesn’t understand the science of this issue, it makes the U.S. look feckless and irresponsible.”
And who is Kelly Knight Craft? She is currently the US ambassador to Canada. And how did she get that job? Her husband, Joseph W. Craft III, is a billionaire coal magnate from Kentucky. He and his wife were major contributors to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and donated to his inaugural committee. More evidence of the cesspool of corruption that Trump has enabled in Washington.
In response, we can only offer this satirical and all too accurate video brought to our attention recently by CleanTechnica reader Are Hansen. It’s 8 minutes long and well worth your time.
Some Republicans Are Deserting The Sinking Ship
In a rebuke to Trump, some senior Republicans are acknowledging the established science and calling publicly to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuel pollution. In February, three Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee — Greg Walden of Oregon, Fred Upton of Michigan, and John Shimkus of Illinois — published an op-ed piece on the Real Clear Policy website saying “climate change is real” and calling for innovations to “reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Last December, Wyoming Republican Senator John Barrasso — who chairs of the Senate Environment Committee, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times entitled Cut Carbon Through Innovation, Not Regulation in which he accepted the validity of climate science but criticized the Paris Agreement and proposals to tax carbon dioxide emissions.
Whit Ayres, a prominent Republican pollster, tells the New York Times, “A lot of thoughtful Republicans have accepted the reality of climate change and are wrestling with questions of policy. There are perfectly legitimate questions to be raised about whether a dollar spent fighting climate change is better spent on health care or education, but there are no longer credible questions to be raised about the existence of climate change. If the White House ends up there, that is simply not credible.” He adds that continuing to question climate science could end up becoming a political liability.
The War On Science Is Unknown Territory
The National Academies of Science, which were instrumental in crafting the latest Climate Assessment, were created by Abraham Lincoln to provide unbiased scientific findings to the country’s leaders. “If there is one body that has the thorough respect of scientists and policymakers, it is the National Academies,” Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international relations at Princeton University, tells the New York Times. “I can’t recall any time that an administration has tried to debunk a review by the National Academy, or where the White House ever tried to ‘re-review’ something the academy has reviewed.”
Republicans Refuse To Stand Up To Trump
While Michael Cohen was testifying before the House of Representatives, the Senate quietly approved Andrew Wheeler as the new head of the EPA. Wheeler will replace Scott Pruitt, the sleazeball from Oklahoma who was too corrupt even for Trump to tolerate. You have to sink pretty low to out-sleaze the putative president.
Wheeler is a former coal industry lobbyist who acknowledges that climate change is real but says it is way down the list of pressing issues he must deal with, like rolling back mercury pollution standards for coal generating plants and eviscerating clean water standards all across America.
Only Susan Collins of Maine voted against Wheeler. “The policies he has supported as acting administrator are not in the best interest of our environment and public health, particularly given the threat of climate change to our nation,” she said according to the New York Times.
Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board has had some interactions with Wheeler on the issue of automobile emission standards. “I have to say that I don’t find him materially different than Scott Pruitt in his policies or the mission that he has taken on,” she says. “The only difference really is that he is more polished and more professional to deal with.”
More Happer Happy Horseshit
In a submission to The Guardian dated March 21, cleantech heroes Michael Mann and Bob Ward of the Center for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science compare what Trump’s people are doing to tactics used by Josef Stalin. Mann is included in the Apolitical Top 100 list of the world’s most influential people in climate policy. Another cleantech hero — Bill McKibben — is also on the list.
Mann and Ward say the petition being circulated at the White House calling for the formation of a climate change whitewash panel is being promoted by Myron Ebell, a member of the Competitive Enterprise Institute — a lobbying group composed of “free market fanatics” known for championing climate change denial. It does not disclose its sources of funding, but is known to have received money from ExxonMobil and conservative billionaires such as the Koch brothers.
“The creation of the new panel of climate change deniers, and the recruitment of supporters to provide it with a veneer of legitimacy, echoes the campaign by Joseph Stalin’s regime to discredit the work of geneticists who disagreed with the disastrous pseudo-scientific theories of Trofim Lysenko,” Mann and Ward contend. “Lysenko wrongly believed that acquired traits could be passed on by parents to their offspring. Stalin embraced lysenkoism as the basis for Soviet agricultural policy, while also denouncing and persecuting Lysenko’s scientific critics.”
If created, it will be led by William Happer, who is not a climate scientist and has never published anything about climate change in any recognized scientific journal. He was, however, previously a trustee of the George C Marshall Institute, which received funding from ExxonMobil and other companies to spread doubt inside and outside the United States about the role of fossil fuels in climate change, according to Mann and Ward. In 2015 it was replaced by the CO2 Coalition, co-founded by Happer.
The website for the Coalition makes many inaccurate and misleading assertions, the two authors assert. An example includes this stunningly ignorant statement: “Readily available data from both governmental and non-governmental sources confirms that extreme weather events in recent years have not happened more often or with greater intensity.” Tell that to the people of Mozambique.
A recent leak of the CO2 Coaliton’s tax filing showed that its largest donors are conservative groups, such as the Mercer Family Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation, both of which have a long track record of funding climate change denial.
One of the favorite tactics of the climate denier cabal is to say climate scientists are a bunch of sleazeballs who get rich from government grants and who alter their findings to make sure they continue to receive those generous grants. The deniers think climate scientists do this because that is precisely what they do. Recently, Greenpeace revealed a series of e-mails in which Happer admits writing reports denying climate change in exchange for a secret fee paid to the CO2 Coalition.
A Confederacy Of Dummies
Trump has assembled a collection of self-aggrandizing ideologues and opportunists around him. How fitting that this is the man who had his personal lawyer send letters to the schools he attended, threatening them with legal repercussions if they dared reveal his academic achievements or SAT scores. Is that because the Head Dope was an excellent student or Phi Beta Kappa candidate? Hardly.
We have seen the likes of Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke come on board Team Trump and get tossed overboard. Kris Kobach wanted to see every state’s voting data so he could figure out new ways to keep black and brown citizens from voting. Wilbur Ross wanted to do the same thing by including a new question in the US Census before he got slapped down by a federal judge who came close to calling Ross a liar.
Now, our #Shithole President wants to put the oil companies in charge of US environmental policy, so “Drill, Baby, Drill” will become the nation’s new mantra. Climate change, raging forest fires, massive flooding, rising sea levels be damned!
Michael Mann and Bob Ward offer these final words on the subject. Americans should not be conned by the Trump administration’s climate [denial policies] and should instead place their trust in the robust findings of climate researchers who place the public interest ahead of political ideology.” Amen to that.
Note: The title of this story pays homage to a book by John Kennedy Toole entitled “A Confederacy Of Dunces,” one of the best books I have ever read and one which I personally recommend you put on your summer reading list.