As America Wakes to Climate Impacts, Trump Sets Up “Gravity Denier” Panel

February 25, 2019

A climate denial crock of so, so, many weeks ago blooms afresh.

The ever-repeating idea that “real” scientists are not being heard, or drowned out in the global plot by evil UN conspirators. Plays good for paranoid old folks, I guess – but it’s run its course. The proof?

Washington Post:

The White House plans to create an ad hoc group of select federal scientists to reassess the government’s analysis of climate science and counter conclusions that the continued burning of fossil fuels is harming the planet, according to three senior administration officials.

The National Security Council initiative would include scientists who question the severity of climate impacts and the extent to which humans contribute to the problem, according to these individuals, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The group would not be subject to the same level of public disclosure as a formal advisory committee.

The move would represent the Trump administration’s most forceful effort to date to challenge the scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions are helping drive global warming and that the world could face dire consequences unless countries curb their carbon output over the next few decades.


We’re at the beginning of a make-or-break period to confront global warming. A combination of forces, from dire scientific reports to extreme weather events, have crystallized a movement to action.

The big picture: A rare convergence of science that reveals the urgency of the problem; extreme events that highlight threats almost nationwide; and shifting public views that are fueling support for stronger policies, scientists and polling experts say.

In the past 2 years, a spate of dire scientific reports have been published, each of which has hammered home the urgency of acting on this issue.

  • In October, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that the effects of global warming are already evident worldwide.
  • To avoid more severe impacts, the panel said greenhouse gas emissions should be cut by about 45% by 2030, relative to 2010 levels — a Herculean task compared to current global trends.
  • Another report the Trump administration released on Black Friday tied trends in wildfires, sea level rise, and other extreme events to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The collective message from these studies is that the actions we take in the next 10 to 20 years will be crucial to determining the climate for centuries to come.


Public polling shows evidence that these reports, plus extreme weather events such as the deadly, record-shattering California wildfires, are changing some minds.

  • A December poll by the Yale Program on Climate Change and George Mason University found that the “alarmed” segment of the American public is at an all-time high of 29% — double the size in a 2013 survey.
  • The poll also showed a decline in Americans who are classified as in the “dismissive” or “doubtful” camps.
  • The percentage of conservative Republicans who are worried about climate change has also reached an all-time high, according to Yale’s Anthony Leiserowitz, who studies public opinion on climate change.
  • “More Americans think that climate change is here and now, affecting them here and now, and poses a risk to them personally than ever before,” he tells Axios.
  • Leiserowitz, along with other social scientists and several climate scientists Axios interviewed, said the shift is being driven by a combination of science reports, extreme events and increased media coverage tying such extreme events to climate change.

In a sign of climate science’s influence, the Democrats’ Green New Deal resolution championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez cites both the UN report and the Black Friday report in its intro text.

The recent science findings are also inspiring a new grassroots movement on this issue.

  • For example, citing the UN report, a 16-year-old Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg, is inspiring thousands of school kids to stage walkouts in of the lack of climate action. These protests have swept across Europe, and will reach the U.S. and other countries on March 15.

Yes, but: There are other reasons for some of these changes, such as having a climate change denier in the White House — who’s now thinking of setting up a panel to scrutinize the recent scientific reports — and the galvanizing effect that is having on the left.

  • Also, there remains a stark partisan divide in public views on climate, with many Republicans remaining skeptical of the science.
  • Even here, though, the ground is shifting, with oil and gas companies increasing investments in clean energyand supporting a push for a carbon tax.

The bottom line: The next few years will show us whether that means there’s a window for action, or whether we’ll just be more aware of our fate.


13 Responses to “As America Wakes to Climate Impacts, Trump Sets Up “Gravity Denier” Panel”

    • J4Zonian Says:

      Wallace-Wells says particulate pollution kills 9 million a year, more than the Holocaust. True, and horrifying that people still oppose leaving the fuels behind. Millions more than that die every year from indirect effects of fossil fuels–wars for oil, oppression in extracting, the resource curse that applies to fossil fuels more than any other material. It’s been inexcusable to keep burning this stuff since the 2MW turbine went up on Grandpa’s Knob, Vermont in 1941.

      However, just to be accurate about our catastrophes: 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust and at least 5 million other people–Slavs, disabled people, LGBT people, intellectuals, people of other religions, races, and ethnicities, leftists, and others. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum puts the total number of people killed at 17 million.

  1. Dr. Wade Allison, Emeritus Professor of Physics at Oxford University Promotes Hormesis Theory, (Heavy Metal Radioactive Poisons Are Healthy/Good For Everyone) Same As Galen Winsor And Dr. Yamashita MD, William Happer And CO2 Hormesis Theory

  2. 1happywoman Says:

    “[T]he “alarmed” segment of the American public is at an all-time high of 29%.”

    I would bet the intersection of “alarmed” and “bothers to vote” is still in the single digits. The denier demographic votes.

  3. J4Zonian Says:

    “To avoid more severe impacts, the panel said greenhouse gas emissions should be cut by about 45% by 2030, relative to 2010 levels — a Herculean task compared to current global trends.”

    It’s a huge job, but not Herculean if we treat it as the emergency it is–something to both echo and dwarf the US WWII mobilization. And this program–the IPCC recommendation–is only half-fast. We need to move at at least twice the speed, and judge by the only goal line that matters, pre-industrial temperature, not the cheat of using any other year as a base.

    “the ground is shifting, with oil and gas companies increasing investments in clean energy and supporting a push for a carbon tax.”

    Coal sludge. The ground is shifting; the lunatic right wing’s strategy is evolving (ironically) to adjust to changing public opinion. They can’t sell outright denial any more, they can’t sell being against a carbon price without triggering revolt even among Republicans. They’re still completely against a carbon price and will never accept an effective one, and we know that from the tens of millions they spend fighting carbon prices, at the same time they or their collaborators are saying they want them.

    Of 40 carbon prices passed or considered, almost all were between $1 and $30 per ton of carbon, and most were $15 or less, typically rising at $1-2 a year. The social cost of carbon is most likely $200-$250, and the price at which carbon prices start to become effective is generally around $80-100, and then mainly against coal, which is a walking dead industry anyway. The prices still have little effect on gas or oil for decades. Are centrists and liberals willing to deceive themselves and “not catch on” to the fact that this is just another delaying tactic stupid and naive or are they collaborators?

    • funslinger62 Says:

      We must start by condemning inaction and applauding any action. Even if too slow the action will give us more time, albeit not much. Once inaction is a thing of the past we can move on to condemning actions that are too slow.

      The mood of the country is changing. It may soon be a viable option to condemn actions that are too slow, but that isn’t the case yet.

      It’s much easier to move a wall brick by brick than all at once. At least until a very good portion of the wall has been moved.

      • J4Zonian Says:

        No path is certain, but that’s what we’ve been doing all along. We ARE making progress, just not nearly enough to matter to our chances of survival. At this point carbon taxes and other incremental actions in isolation are a joke; only as part of much more comprehensive and radical sets of actions are they of any use at all.

        The main driving fact of climate catastrophe to date has been denial–not just from the fossil fuel corporations and the far right, but from virtually everyone. At this point incremental action is just more denial, and it has been for years; it allows too many people–like those involved in “bipartisan” action, essentially an attempt to bribe the right into accepting the science of climate change–to fool themselves into thinking that’s enough. It thus will enable their return to inaction once the not-enough action of a carbon price is accomplished.

        The right continues to use actions like the resistance against the XL pipeline, and this, to detour activists so they don’t attack the basis of all our problems–the political-economic system and the mental illness behind it. Fortunately Bill McKibben was smart enough to turn the XL movement, and others have turned similar allied movements, into broad and determined resistance against fossil fuels. (There’s not considerable awareness that the larger, deeper system is the cause, but haven’t made the transition into understanding and changing the psychological condition.) Meanwhile, the right has fractured and oil and gas corporations are directing anger and action at coal, nuke corporations are doing the same to fossil fuels in general, and the lunatic right is retreating from complete denial to more nuanced but still destructive denial of human cause, and here’s the thing–denial of the severity and the radicalness of the solutions needed. Still manipulating the left into not doing enough.

        But with the sudden and massive support for a comprehensive Green New Deal, we now have movement toward something that actually is enough if done right. Not enough to avoid all harm of course; it’s too late for that, but the best we can do. The response from those not all the way on the right but still in denial: a bunch of inadequate GNDs, detours just like the XL pipeline, and the offering up of coal by oil, gas, and nukes. (Because of the tightness of the psychological system, the same dynamic is being used by “centrist” collaborators-with-the-right in offering lots of inadequate medicare plans and many inadequate people running for the Democratic nomination for potus.)

        Our best chance now is if we can convince all those who have been detoured into the dead end of pseudo-bipartisan “solutions” of nukes and isolated carbon prices to join us pushing for the strongest Green New Deal we can devise; if we have to take radical action as part of a peaceful revolution, and remove people from office by meta-electoral means then so be it. We don’t have time to futz around.

        • J4Zonian Says:

          Sorry, poor editing here: “(There’s not considerable awareness that the larger, deeper system is the cause, but haven’t made the transition into understanding and changing the psychological condition.) ”
          I meant to say “There IS considerable awareness…about the larger system, but not the deeper, psychological system.”

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      ” Are centrists and liberals willing to deceive themselves and “not catch on” to the fact that this is just another delaying tactic stupid and naive or are they collaborators?”

      Well put.

      And we have already wasted ten years in that timid debate. A decade. Almost nobody is truly serious about the situation.

  4. Bryson Brown Says:

    Amazing to see all the Nordic countries so much closer to responsible (serious) levels. We have a “Conservative” party whose leader declared a few weeks ago that, since the present carbon tax policy isn’t really a climate policy (for reasons not given), the Conservatives (eager to form government next fall) don’t have any obligation to come up with one. The “United Conservative” party in Alberta, leading in the polls for this spring, has promised to end the carbon tax here (even though most of the population comes out ahead on it, given the tax rebate low to middle income residents receive). Doing too little or doing nothing at all (or worse, ‘saving’ the industry) seem to be our options here in Canada.

  5. Gingerbaker Says:

    Don’t blame me – I eat kale and impossible burgers.

    I gotta say I am becoming pretty fatalistic of late, watching the DNC Dems pooh-poohing the Green New Deal and marginalizing AOC et al.

    I thought we needed a new Progressive party in 2016, and I become more convinced every day. The Republicants are deplorable, but the neo-lib Democrats are incorrigible.

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