Russian connections, wiretapping, alternative facts, FBI investigations, and that is in just the first two months of the Trump administration. All of this has been unprecedented and some might say quite amusing. However, for those of us with ocean issues top-of-mind, there have been some very disturbing developments, starting with attacks on the EPA.
President Trump, during his campaign, called human-fueled climate change a hoax and vowed to dismantle the EPA. His appointment of Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) takes this one step further. Pruitt, with a long and out-spoken history as a denier of climate change, now questions if it’s the role of the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, and is challenging the Paris Accord climate change agreement.
Breaking News: Here’s the latest on what’s happening in the U.S. Congress. The House Science Committee will hear testimony on March 29th challenging the scientific basis of Climate Change. Although witnesses at the hearing will represent all sides of the issue, they include some notable critics and climate change deniers. This provides climate cynics legitimacy even though 97% of all climate scientists have said that the matter is settled.
Carbon Dioxide Is not a “Primary Contributor” to Global Warming!
Now Pruitt has claimed that neither human activity or carbon dioxide emissions are “primary contributors” to global warming. This statement was made despite the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, including the EPA’s own website that states that “carbon dioxide is a primary greenhouse gas contributing to recent climate change.”
With Pruitt heading the EPA it is no surprise that he has been recruiting personnel from the office of James Inhofe, Senator of Oklahoma. (It is no coincidence that climate deniers tend to come from fossil fuel states.) Inhofe has been called a climate change ridiculer, famous for crude antics like throwing snowballs in congress. Pruitt’s chief of staff, deputy chief of staff and his candidate for deputy administrator, Andrew Wheeler, are all Inhofe loyalists. (photo – US News and World Report)
Trump Slashes NOAA Budget
Next up is the Trump budget that slashes the country’s premier climate science agencies with “huge” cuts to research and satellite programs. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, would lose $126 million or 26% of its budget. And NOAA’s satellite data division which collects climate and environmental information would suffer the single largest cut. The satellite division was responsible for the research featured in our recent article: Ocean Warming Faster, New Research Shows. (photo – NOAA)
Conrad Lautenberger, the NOAA administrator under President Bush said, “I think the cuts are ill timed given the needs of society, economy and the military.” He added, “It will be very hard for NOAA to manage and maintain the kind of services the country requires” with the proposed cuts. Read more in the Washington Post.
It Will Be Hard to Keep Americans Safe
Jane Lubchenco, Obama’s administrator of NOAA said “Cutting NOAA’s satellite budget will compromise NOAA’s mission of keeping Americans safe from extreme weather and providing forecasts that allow businesses and citizens to make smart plans,”
Breaking News: Along with attempts to weaken Obama’s Clean Power Plan, Trump’s budget cuts will eliminate the very popular Energy Star Program which has promoted highest energy efficiency standards for over five billion products. The Energy Star program helps consumers to save money on their energy bills as well as saving billions in electricity usage annually.
NASA Continues to Publish Science Data.
NASA continues to communicate climate change science despite the Trump tornado. Daily updates, some that are in direct contradiction to Trump’s and Pruitt’s statements, continue to be made public. “We’re doing our jobs, it’s business as usual,” says Steve Cole, NASA spokesperson.
“Humans are changing the climate 170 times faster than natural forces, according to a new study,” the @NASAClimate Twitter account posted. See more in Washington Post’s article. (map – NASA)
Marine Protected Areas Attacked as “Junk Science”
At a congressional hearing last week, Republican congressmen and representatives of the fishing industry claimed there is no good scientific reason for preserving the five regions designated as “marine monuments” by Presidents Bush and Obama. (Papahānaumokuākea.gov)
“Limiting fishing via marine monuments makes no sense whatsoever,”
testified Brian Halland, Executive Director of the American Tunaboat Association. “This is once again an attempt to control the seabeds without scientific information,” added Rep. Don Young of Alaska
This attack on Marine Protected Areas possibly holds the biggest threat to Ocean sustainability. It has been well documented that these protected areas host some of our rarest animal and bird species. In addition these sanctuaries have a rejuvenating effect on fish populations when commercial fishing is limited.
“The reality is that there’s a huge body of science, and it’s publicly available science,” stated John Bruno, a professor of biology at University of North Carolina.
“It’s frustrating as a scientist to hear lobbyists for the oil industry and the industrial tuna industry claim that there is no science behind these monument designations.” Bruno continued that it would be “a travesty” to allow commercial fishing in areas where we have species that exist almost nowhere else. See the entire article at buzzfeed.com.
Blue Ocean has posted numerous articles on Marine Protected Areas and in particular those created by President Obama, see: Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau Joins with Obama to Ban Oil and Gas Leases in the Arctic and: Why It’s Important to Save Our Seas’ Last Pristine Places. See these related Blue Ocean posts: Marine Protected Areas: Giant Leap for Fish Kind and: Resilient Marine Ecosystems – Hope Spots plus: Marine Migrations Magnified by Ocean Warming.
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