Cars pass through Hurricane Harvey floodwaters along Tanner Road in West Houston. Photo: Adrees Latif / REUTERS

By Devin Henry
9 September 2017

(The Hill) – President Trump has stacked his administration with officials who doubt the scientific consensus behind man-made climate change, underscoring a growing divide within the Republican party.

Even as leading scientists, environmentalists and most Democrats accept research that shows climate change accelerating — and as some see it contributing to the two mammoth hurricanes that have threatened the United States this year — some in Trump’s administration have openly raised doubts.

The rise of climate change skeptics has been most pronounced in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which helped lead then-President Obama’s efforts to regulate climate change-causing pollutants.

Administrator Scott Pruitt has questioned carbon dioxide’s role as a “primary contributor” to a warming climate, something accepted by most researchers. He’s also called for a public debate over climate change science, a proposal that has caused scientists, environmentalists and former regulators to bristle.

“I think it’s going to have a chilling effect on science overall because it’s going to elevate those scientists who are in the vast minority and give them a stage that, frankly, they don’t deserve,” said Christine Whitman, President George W. Bush’s first EPA administrator, who called the proposal “shameful” in a Friday New York Times op-ed.

“It’s wasting taxpayer money and making it an even more difficult issue for the average person to wade through, which I think is part of the political agenda, to make the case that we don’t need to do anything about this issue.” […]

“It must come from some fundamentalist perspective,” said Eric Schaeffer, the head of the Environmental Integrity Project and a former EPA enforcement official from 1997 to 2002 under Presidents Clinton and Bush. “It’s much more naked and right-wing than what we’ve seen before.”

Trump’s embrace of climate change denialism — he has referred to climate change as a “hoax” perpetuated by the Chinese to undermine the American economy — comes as fault lines emerge over the issue within the GOP.

Polling still shows skepticism among self-described Republicans about the scientific consensus on climate change, and the threat it poses to the country. While 66 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of independents told Gallup this year they were worried about climate change, only 18 percent of Republicans agreed.  [more]

Trump stacks administration with climate change skeptics

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