It was in the news several days ago that the new EPA head Scott Pruitt, in an interview, disputed that carbon dioxide was playing a major role in the global warming that we are seeing on this planet. In a sense, this is nothing new. We know how Pruitt and Trump and many of the key people Trump surrounds himself with, feel on that issue. And it’s a shame having to waste precious time on this nonsense. But that is the reality we are faced with today. President Richard M. Nixon had the foresight to create an Environmental Protection Agency (on December 2, 1970). But now, forty-six years later — and at a time when its importance couldn’t be any more evident — we find ourselves with a Republican president who would like the EPA to become extinct. It could even be argued, that, in essence, Trump would like to see it become the Economy Protection Agency. And, doesn’t that sound better than calling it the Fossil Fuel Protection Agency?
As Pruitt’s predecessor at the EPA stated in response, “The world of science is about empirical evidence, not beliefs. When it comes to climate change, the evidence is robust and overwhelmingly clear that the cost of inaction is unacceptably high.”
This too, is nothing new. We’ve known for quite some time that the need for decisive action is overdue. In fact, let me cite a brief news article (“Climate contrast in memos” Dec. 4, 2015) that appeared in Newsday, over two years ago (the byline is The Washington Post). Here is how the news article begins:
The memos, stamped “confidential” and kept under wraps for years, portray a White House eager to assert U.S. leadership on climate change. Global warming will have “profound consequences,” one document warns, and the United States “cannot wait” until all scientific questions are resolved before taking action. The source of the memos: Not Obama’s White House, but policy advisers to former President George H. W. Bush.
(The article states that these documents from the Bush administration were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.) That’s right, that was from an administration that first came to power twenty-eight years ago. And now, four administrations later, we find ourselves with an administration content to do less than nothing to address climate change. The Trump team is actually in the process of rolling back rules and regulations that are already in place to address that issue. That’s insane. But that’s just the beginning. I predict a lot more nonsense like this will be unfolding over the course of the next four years.
I’m not even sure whether they actually believe such nonsense. It might be reminiscent of how big tobacco companies knew cigarette smoking causes cancer, but nevertheless, for decades kept denying that was true. Maybe they know; but don’t care, because they know they won’t be alive a hundred years from now. Maybe they know; but don’t care, because they care more about increasing their wealth and influence and holding onto their positions of power. Maybe they know; but don’t care, because they believe that man’s ingenuity can solve any problem. Maybe they know; but don’t care to admit it for a variety of reasons …
Several years ago, I posed a question to a Christian Republican, who didn’t believe that man could be responsible for warming the planet. (He thought it “arrogant” to think man could affect the climate; but evidently not arrogant to believe that this entire universe was “Created” just for our species, and for our species alone.) I’ll also note that this man holds an esteemed position, in a highly laudable profession. Here is the question I posed: “Let’s say that I’m Bill Gates; and you’re my friend. And I said to you, “Look, you’re my friend. And I’ve got all this money. I can fund any study I want. But I really want to convince you that global warming and climate change are real; and that the causes are anthropogenic. So please tell me, very specifically, what exactly would you need to see, what would it take to convince you that global warming has anthropogenic causes? Just tell me. And I’ll fund those studies.”
He thought for several seconds, and then said (I’m paraphrasing): “That’s a very good question. It really is. It’s a good question. And it deserves an answer. I’m going to have to think about it. But I’m going to get back to you on that. It’s a good question, and it deserves an answer.”
Well, guess what? He never got back to me on that. And eventually he moved on.
I was a little surprised when he said he would get back to me. Because in a sense, it’s a rhetorical question. In a sense, what I’m really asking, is “There are probably literally tons of studies supporting that proposition. Why do you dispute it? What more do you need to see? What would it take to convince you?”
Another individual I addressed that question to — and this person holds an even more esteemed, lofty position (and is a Republican) — stated definitively that no study could ever get him to change his mind regarding that. I think that says it all.
Too bad Trump wasn’t asked in the presidential debates, what, specifically (beyond what has already been published in scientific journals), it would take to convince him that man is warming the planet and causing climate change?