The White House plans on assembling an ad-hoc group of scientists to refute the widely proven detrimental effects of climate change and humans’ role in expediting the process through the burning of fossil fuels, the Washington Post reports. Among these scientists would be those who doubt the intensity of climate change and our collective contribution to its acceleration. Three senior officials from the Trump administration informed the Post of this National Security Council initiative which, while not finalized, may be implemented soon.
Needless to say, the whole idea is bananas. A recent report from the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change projected that if we do not drastically lower our emissions output, a large number of people will die due to the resulting catastrophes, including food shortages and wildfires. Our role in climate change and its negative impact on the planet are not up for debate.
“When it comes down to climate change, we are talking about thousands of independent papers, from everywhere, finding exactly the same thing: that the climate is changing, that we are doing it and that most often than not, the impacts are pretty bad,” Camilo Mora, an environmental professor at the University of Hawaii and geographer, wrote in an email to the Post.
That doesn’t matter to Donald Trump and co., though—it’s all about the Benjamins for them, baby. In fact, this plan is a new iteration of an earlier one pushed by William Happer, NSC senior director and a physicist who just happens to really dig carbon dioxide. Happer formerly headed up the CO2 Coalition, an advocacy group funded in part by donors with vested interests in fossil fuel and far-right organizations. As per the Post, public records show that the group aimed to educate the public and government officials of the “important contribution made by carbon dioxide to our lives and the economy.”
The earlier idea championed by Happer would have established an independent federal advisory committee which, thanks to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, would be required to meet publicly, have representative membership and acquiesce to requests for public records. However, this current NSC initiative would not be a formal advisory committee and therefore would not be subject to the same level of public scrutiny.
Apparently the group wouldn’t even be analyzing intelligence community assessments of climate change from recent years, officials told the Post. One such report is the National Climate Assessment in November, which—you guessed it—informed us that climate change is worsening. The very publishing of the report angered Trump, deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman reportedly told top administration officials in the White House Situation Room on Friday, though its release is required by federal law.
It’s time for concrete action around climate change, which can hopefully be achieved through the Green New Deal. However, progress remains nigh-impossible when those in the top offices of government insist that the problem doesn’t even exist in the first place.