Trump’s effect on climate change

President Donald Trump’s proposed reduction in environmental and scientific agencies could have big impacts both in the environment and public health. His administration disagrees with scientific consensus about human’s impact on climate change and the new Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt denied carbon dioxide is a major factor in climate change.

In an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box he said, "I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact. So no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see."

But, according to ProPublica senior reporter Andrew Revkin President Trump can do a lot more to undo former President Obama’s climate policies than he can actually affect the things that change climate outcomes. In an interview for NPR’s Fresh Air podcast he said that “the trends that are underway in the economy and in how we use energy are there. And they're actually mostly not malleable to any president's moves.”

Following this, lawmakers are moving to change Obama-era rules that restricted the flaring of methane from natural gas wells on public lands and changing the language on the EPA’s website to deemphasize climate change and focus on the importance of science-based rulemaking.  Also, US science and environmental agencies will have cuts in their budget to carve out $54 billion dollars in additional funding for the Department of Defense

More so, the Trump administration wants to get rid of the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) which is the formal measure of the value of reducing carbon pollution. Today federal agencies use an SCC figure of about $40 per ton.

Joseph Aldy, Associate Professor of Public Policy form Harvard University and member of the working group that developed the first government-wide SCC estimate believes this is a mistake.

In an article for The Conversation he wrote, “a well-functioning democracy needs transparency about the economic benefits of investments driven by public policy – as well as the benefits we give up when we walk away from making these investments.”

“Scientists widely agree that carbon dioxide emissions, primarily from burning fossil fuels, pose significant risks to Earth’s climate. Intuitively, it makes sense that reducing carbon emissions benefits society by reducing risks of flooding, wildfires, storms and other impacts associated with severe climate change.”

With the unveiling of his proposed federal budget on Thursday we saw how the administration would end programs to lower domestic greenhouse gas emissions, slash diplomatic efforts to slow climate change and cut scientific missions to study the climate, like the Clean Power Plan, the Global Climate Change Initiative and Green Climate Fund funding. Also, NASA’s Earth sciences budget lost $102 million, which would reduce funding for Earth science grants and ax several missions designed to study climate.

Although the budget plan is just a proposal, Congress ultimately decides federal spending.

"The administration's cuts threaten our nation's ability to advance cures for disease, maintain our technological leadership, ensure a more prosperous energy future, and train the next generation of scientists and innovators to address the complex challenges we face today and in the future,” said in a statement Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


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