Gov­ern­ment scientists leak cli­mate re­port

Clash with Trump on global warm­ing

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY BEN WOLF­GANG

En­vi­ron­men­tal re­sis­tance in­side the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion hit new heights this week as a group of fed­eral scientists leaked a draft of a sweep­ing cli­mate change re­port to the press, push­ing the study out into the blood­stream be­fore their su­pe­ri­ors had the chance to al­ter or ap­prove it.

The in­ci­dent marks the lat­est in a se­ries of clashes be­tween top ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials and scientists within the gov­ern­ment, some of whom con­tend that the White House is ac­tively try­ing to bury sci­ence re­lated to global warm­ing. The lat­est study was writ­ten by scientists from 13 fed­eral agen­cies and has not been made pub­lic, though The New York Times ob­tained a draft on Mon­day evening.

While most of the study seems to re­it­er­ate what a host of other cli­mate change re­search has said, it makes the case that global warm­ing is get­ting worse and that sig­nif­i­cant ac­tion must be taken. Sev­eral of the au­thors said anony­mously that they be­lieve the re­port would never have seen the light of day had they waited to go through the proper chan­nels.

“Ev­i­dence for a chang­ing cli­mate abounds, from the top of the at­mos­phere to the depths of the oceans,” a por­tion of the study reads. “Many lines of ev­i­dence demon­strate that hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties, es­pe­cially emis­sions of

green­house gases, are pri­mar­ily re­spon­si­ble for re­cent ob­served cli­mate change.”

In a state­ment Tues­day af­ter­noon, White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders blasted the re­lease of the draft re­port.

“It’s very dis­ap­point­ing yet en­tirely pre­dictable to learn The New York Times would write off a draft re­port with­out first ver­i­fy­ing its con­tents with the White House or any of the fed­eral agen­cies di­rectly in­volved with cli­mate and en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy,” she said. “As oth­ers have pointed out — and The New York Times should have no­ticed — drafts of this re­port have been pub­lished and made widely avail­able on­line months ago dur­ing the pub­lic com­ment pe­riod. The White House will with­hold com­ment on any draft re­port be­fore its sched­uled re­lease date.”

The En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency and other agen­cies must sign off on the re­port, which, if re­leased, would be part of the qua­dren­nial Na­tional Cli­mate As­sess­ment man­dated by Congress.

While there is no hard ev­i­dence that the ad­min­is­tra­tion planned to change or sup­press the re­port, crit­ics quickly pounced on the in­ci­dent to make their case that Pres­i­dent Trump, EPA Ad­min­is­tra­tor Scott Pruitt and other of­fi­cials are dead set on push­ing sci­ence to the back burner.

“This re­port should sound the alarm for the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion that cli­mate change is the defin­ing chal­lenge of our time. In­stead, Trump is will­fully deny­ing and mis­lead­ing Amer­i­cans on an ur­gent threat to our na­tional se­cu­rity, our econ­omy and our well-be­ing,” said Adri­enne Wat­son, a spokes­woman for the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee. “Democrats are fight­ing for a clean en­ergy econ­omy to help cre­ate good-pay­ing jobs and make clean en­ergy ac­ces­si­ble to all.”

The re­port was leaked on the heels of other cases in which ad­min­is­tra­tion scientists and other em­ploy­ees went to war with their bosses.

Ear­lier this month, El­iz­a­beth Souther­land, for­mer di­rec­tor of the EPA’s of­fice of sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, an­nounced that she would re­tire and was leav­ing un­der protest over pro­posed EPA bud­get cuts.

EPA cli­mate change ad­viser Mike Cox also quit this year and blasted the agency’s ef­forts to re­verse Oba­maera reg­u­la­tions aimed at mit­i­gat­ing the ef­fects of cli­mate change. Other EPA em­ploy­ees have been quoted, of­ten anony­mously, tak­ing shots at the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

EPA em­ploy­ees also have launched “al­ter­na­tive” Twit­ter ac­counts, us­ing the plat­forms to pro­mote ag­gres­sive cli­mate change poli­cies.

Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Mr. Pruitt, En­ergy Sec­re­tary Rick Perry and oth­ers, rou­tinely have said they be­lieve the cli­mate is chang­ing and that hu­man ac­tiv­ity has had an im­pact, but they have stopped short of say­ing hu­mans are the pri­mary driv­ers of global warm­ing. They also have said ex­actly that what the U.S. should do about cli­mate change and how much eco­nomic harm it should be will­ing to in­flict on it­self to mit­i­gate the ef­fects should re­main open ques­tions.

Mr. Pruitt also has said he does not be­lieve car­bon diox­ide is a pri­mary driver of cli­mate change.

Since tak­ing of­fice, Mr. Trump has re­peat­edly dodged ques­tions about his per­sonal views on cli­mate change, though in the past he has called it a hoax.

Some an­a­lysts say the ten­sion be­tween scientists and top ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials shouldn’t be sur­pris­ing given the White House’s push to re­verse vir­tu­ally all Obama-era cli­mate reg­u­la­tions, with­draw from the Paris cli­mate ac­cord and take other steps that en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists say will deeply harm the coun­try and the planet.

“Why would Mr. Trump want to is­sue a Na­tional Cli­mate As­sess­ment, which clearly states that Amer­ica is be­ing harmed badly by hu­man-caused cli­mate change, when he and mem­bers of his Cab­i­net are ac­tively ig­nor­ing and/ or dis­tort­ing the truth about cli­mate change?” said Ed­ward Maibach, di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Cli­mate Change Com­mu­ni­ca­tion at Ge­orge Ma­son Uni­ver­sity.

While cast­ing doubt on the im­pact of car­bon emis­sions and other hu­man ac­tiv­ity on the cli­mate, top of­fi­cials also have stressed that they are not try­ing to shy away from the con­ver­sa­tion. Mr. Perry, for in­stance, chal­lenged the idea that he and other of­fi­cials are un­will­ing to talk about global warm­ing.

“The cli­mate is chang­ing. Man is hav­ing an im­pact on it. I’ve said that time af­ter time — the idea that we can’t have an in­tel­lec­tual con­ver­sa­tion about just what are the ac­tual im­pacts,” he said in re­marks at the White House this sum­mer. “Why not have a con­ver­sa­tion about that? What is the other side, the peo­ple who say the sci­ence is set­tled, it’s done? If you don’t be­lieve that, you’re a skep­tic, [and] I don’t buy that. This is Amer­ica. Have a con­ver­sa­tion. Let’s come out of the shad­ows of hid­ing be­hind your po­lit­i­cal state­ments, and let’s talk about it.

“What’s wrong with that? I can be con­vinced, but why not let’s talk about it?”


En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency Ad­min­is­tra­tor Scott Pruitt rou­tinely has said they be­lieve the cli­mate is chang­ing and that hu­man ac­tiv­ity has had an im­pact, but they have stopped short of say­ing hu­mans are the pri­mary driv­ers of global warm­ing.

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