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Friday, June 2, 2017

Graham Readfearn, The Guardian: Trump’s Paris exit: climate science denial industry has just had its greatest victory

Trump’s confirmed withdrawal from the United Nation’s Paris climate deal shows it’s time to get to grips with the climate science denial industry

by Graham Readfearn, "Planet Oz," The Guardian, June 1, 2017

Moments before the US president, Donald Trump, strode into the Rose Garden, TV cameras pictured his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, shaking hands and looking generally pleased with himself.
Bannon once called global warming a “manufactured crisis.”
Bannon, with Trump’s head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, were among the loudest and most forceful voices in Trump’s ear, imploring the president to pull out of the Paris climate change agreement.
During his speech, Trump claimed the Paris deal was bad for America. The themes were economic, but the speech was laced with jingoistic protectionism.“Our withdrawal represents a reassertion of America’s sovereignty,” he said.
But make no mistake here.
The foundation for Trump’s dismissal of the Paris deal – and for the people who pushed him the hardest to do it – is the rejection of the science linking fossil-fuel burning to dangerous climate change.
Or rather, Trump’s rejection of the Paris deal was built on the flimsy, cherry-picked and long-debunked talking points of an industry built to manufacture doubt about climate science. Once you fall for those arguments, making an economic case suddenly feels plausible.
After Trump signed off with his catchphrase pledge glib enough to fit on a baseball cap, he invited Pruitt to say a few words.
Pruitt, who as the attorney general of Oklahoma had a long history of backing fossil-fuel interests over environmental concerns, has denied that CO2 causes global warming.
Bannon is the former boss of Breitbart – the hyper-partisan right-wing outlet that pushes climate science denial and an overt hatred for climate scientists.
As Guardian US has has reported, Trump’s team has been filling the administration with climate science “sceptics”.
Myron Ebell, the man picked by the Trump campaign team to engineer the EPA’s transition from an agency that acknowledges the risk of fossil-fuel burning to one being forced to publicly deny it, is a long-serving member of that climate science denial industry.
As long ago as 1998, Ebell joined the fossil-fuel industry for a campaign that aimed to reset the public’s understanding of climate science from acceptance to doubt.
Moments after Trump’s announcement, Steve Milloy, one of Ebell’s colleagues in that 1998 campaign who was also drafted by Ebell to help him “transition” the EPA, tweeted: “Congratulations to all climate skeptics! We have reaped a tremendous victory.”

Earlier this week, the veteran coal lobbyist Fred Palmer was salivating in a column for Breitbart over Trump’s intentions.
“Stay on the course that recognizes the Paris agreement incorrectly demonizes carbon and CO2 emissions,” wrote Palmer, who is now a senior fellow at the climate science-denying Heartland Institute.
Palmer has explained to me how some 25 years ago he kickstarted what is thought to be the first fossil-fuel funded campaign aimed squarely at undermining the science linking fossil-fuel burning to dangerous climate change.
Since then, elements of the fossil-fuel industry have run a relentless campaign of self-interested misinformation that puts the protection of their industry above the protection of communities, habitats and species across the planet.
They got together with so-called “free market” advocates whose view on the world tells them governments have to be small and that regulations are bad.
Just weeks ago, a collective of conservative “free market” organisations wrote an open letter to Trump urging him to cut ties with the Paris deal.
The first name on the letter was Ebell’s. Many signatories reject entirely the role of fossil-fuel burning in changing the climate. Many of the groups those people represent have taken millions of dollars in donations from the petrochemical billionaires Charles and David Koch.
Those groups are the same ones who have developed talking points, compiled reports, appeared in the media, written newspaper columns, gone on speaking torus, given testimony to congress – all geared to protecting the fossil-fuel industry while relegating, ignoring or misrepresenting the science.
Several members of that denial industry – including Ebell – were reportedly invited to the Rose Garden to hear the news.
As Rhode Island senator and Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse said in the moments after Trump’s announcement, Trump “is betraying the country, in service of Breitbart fake news, the fossil fuel industry, & the Koch brothers’ climate denial operation.”

So what comes next? Hopefully, one realization will be this.
Now is the time to learn about the methods, the tactics, the personnel, the structure and the reach of the global climate science denial industry.
They just convinced the leader of the United States to pull the plug on a historic deal signed by almost 200 countries, and instead join Nicaragua and Syria as the only countries not signed up.
It is time to take that climate science denial industry seriously.

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