If the EPA isn’t allowed to use science, what’s left? Witch doctors? Oil company pimps?

Note: This is part four of a four-part series about the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency, its policies, and the science that underpins those regulations have been under scrutiny in recent weeks. In fact, the agency is in danger of being drastically cut back or dismantled entirely. You can learn more about that by reading part one, part two, and part three, as well viewing a gallery of photos of what America looked like in the early days of the EPA. This week, we’ll focus on where the EPA stands right now.


Nothing in this photo Trump doesn’t approve of – except the kid isn’t blonde

The Environmental Protection Agency is supposed to make and enforce regulations that protect the environment. But as the scientific agency seems to throw science out the window, it’s worth asking: what happens when the EPA stops putting our health and wellbeing first?

On April 2, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court made a decision that was easy to miss…The 2007 case dates back to an earlier lawsuit, where Massachusetts sued the EPA for failing to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, which are known to contribute to climate change. Whether the EPA has such an obligation depends on how you interpret a specific clause of the Clean Air Act. The clause states that the EPA Administrator must set an emissions standard for any air pollutant “from any class or classes of new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines, which in his judgment cause, or contribute to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.”…

In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that the EPA had to regulate greenhouse gas emissions unless it could prove that they did not endanger public welfare.

The EPA based its decision on more than 100 peer-reviewed studies and input from a public comment period. The summary reads, “The Administrator finds that the current and projected concentrations of the six key well-mixed greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)—in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.”

Greenhouse gases are putting us at risk. Luckily, the EPA is obligated to limit their emission. That is, as long as the agency chooses to accept the facts.

Earlier this week, current EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the following on CNBC: “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.”

It was an odd (and incorrect) statement from the Administrator of the EPA, an agency that — based on the best available scientific evidence — disagrees with Pruitt’s position, as does NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Center for Disease Control, the U.K.’s Met Office, and the Japan Meteorological Organization.

But, then, there’s nothing new about any of Trump’s appointed flunkies acting like anything other than pimps for the worst corporate barons in American capitalism. It may seem like he’s only carrying on the strongest traditions from previous Republican Administrations – but, that wouldn’t be true, either.

Trump is so confident of the backing of the chumps who voted him into office he has permission to skip over the soft rationales of most Big-C Conservatives and go straight into his repertoire of bald-faced lies, made-up data, alternative truth. Flunkies like Pruitt did this for years back in Oklahoma. Oil and gas companies would write rules and regulations allowing pollution for him to cut-and-paste into official government policy.

They deserve each other. So do the ignoranuses who voted them into national office. Trouble is – the rest of us are stuck with the results of their ignorance and corruption. Until and unless we fight back – and hard enough to win.

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Republicans end climate change the old-fashioned way — by censorship


…But I know what the Koch brothers say science is, and that’s good enough for me

❝ Remember when Scott Walker was a hot presidential prospect for about six minutes, and then he went to London and refused to venture a guess at whether evolution is real, and looked even more stupid than most Republicans while doing it? Well by golly, when it comes to other kinds of science, Walker is not confused at all. He knows, for instance, that climate change is a very controversial subject among people who are Koch Industries, so he’s made a concerted effort to make sure state policy is uncontaminated by too much science. That admirable decisiveness is showing, in the form of a state website that used to be about “Climate Change and Wisconsin´s Great Lakes,” but has now had every mention of “climate” — or for that matter, real science — carefully scrubbed away.

❝ As Scientific American reported way back in 2015, Walker has “moved to reduce the role of science in environmental policymaking and to silence discussion of controversial subjects, including climate change, by state employees.” He’s dismantled environmental regulations, and attempted to slash staff at the state Department of Natural Resources, getting rid of a third of its scientists and firing a bunch of the department’s “environmental educators,” because why would you waste state money on spreading liberal propaganda to innocent schoolchildren? And just like Rick Scott did in Florida, Wisconsin also tried to prohibit state workers from even saying the “C” word at all.

❝ And then there’s that website. Urban Milwaukee columnist James Rowen details how the DNR’s website has been purged of any science whatsoever, changing a page that had actually been a pretty decent introduction to how climate change is affecting the Great Lakes into a couple of paragraphs of shrugging and saying, gosh, we dunno…

RTFA. In case you need your understanding of Republican politics dragged away from the nuances of Trump’s flirtation with fascism. Neocons haven’t disappeared. They still don’t win primaries. They still retain control of states outside the Confederacy via reliance on gerrymandering and anti-voting regulations. Yes, they also get a bump in their national power from the Idiocracy perpetuated by the TweetFührer.

Scientists fear U.S. climate data might vanish under Trump


Rick Perry’s clown show called for prayer to stop wildfires

❝ Alarmed that decades of crucial climate measurements could vanish under a hostile Trump administration, scientists have begun a feverish attempt to copy reams of government data onto independent servers in hopes of safeguarding it from any political interference.

The efforts include a “guerrilla archiving” event in Toronto, where experts will copy irreplaceable public data, meetings at the University of Pennsylvania focused on how to download as much federal data as possible in the coming weeks, and a collaboration of scientists and database experts who are compiling an online site to harbor scientific information…

❝ In recent weeks, President-elect Donald Trump has nominated a growing list of Cabinet members who have questioned the overwhelming scientific consensus around global warming. His transition team at the Department of Energy has asked agency officials for names of employees and contractors who have participated in international climate talks and worked on the scientific basis for Obama administration-era regulations of carbon emissions. One Trump adviser suggested that NASA no longer should conduct climate research and instead should focus on space exploration…

❝ Those moves have stoked fears among the scientific community that Trump, who has called the notion of man-made climate change “a hoax” and vowed to reverse environmental policies put in place by President Obama, could try to alter or dismantle parts of the federal government’s repository of data on everything from rising sea levels to the number of wildfires in the country.

RTFA for useful discussion. The threat level isn’t uniformly accepted – but, damned near no one trusts Trump and his political pimps to refrain from destroying data, research and study his dimbulb brigade doesn’t approve.

Mike Pence kicked off the 21st Century by claiming “smoking doesn’t kill”

Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana and Donald Trump’s running mate, is nobody’s idea of a moderate. This is, after all, the guy who signed a bill into law mandating funerals for aborted fetuses and who compared the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare to the 9/11 attacks.

But perhaps his most dangerous stance has to do with tobacco. In a 2000 op-ed, posted on his personal webpage and unearthed by BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski, Pence brazenly declared, “Smoking does not kill”:

Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill. In fact, 2 out of every three smokers does not die from a smoking related illness and 9 out of ten smokers do not contract lung cancer. This is not to say that smoking is good for you… news flash: smoking is not good for you. If you are reading this article through the blue haze of cigarette smoke you should quit.

This paragraph is a veritable maze of contradictions. First, Pence asserts that smoking doesn’t kill. To back this up, he bafflingly concedes that a huge fraction of smokers — one in three! — die from smoking-related illnesses, a fact that a casual observer could be forgiven for interpreting as proof that smoking does, in fact, kill, and kills a lot of people at that. (Only one problem: Subsequent research has found that two out of three smokers die from a smoking-related illness — not one in three, as Pence insisted.)…He proceeds, instead, to argue that the evils of tobacco do not compare in scale to the evils of big government…

Pence’s history of promoting tobacco companies and denigrating public health campaigns against smoking came back to bite him in his 2000 congressional race. His opponent, Bob Rock, raised it in a debate. Pence responded, per a local news report Kaczyinski unearthed, by saying that “the article was taken out of context and that while there is no direct ‘scientific causal link medically identifying’ a link between smoking and lung cancer that was not the point of writing it.”

So when directly questioned in a debate, Pence doubled down on the totally erroneous assertion that there isn’t evidence that smoking causes lung cancer. This is truly remarkable science denialism…

As governor of Indiana, a state with the seventh-highest smoking rate in the country, Pence has repeatedly taken pro-smoking positions, ThinkProgress’s Josh Israel finds. He slashed funding for the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation office, and rejected a proposal from Republican legislators to raise cigarette taxes to fund transportation.

I have no idea what’s behind Pence’s demented anti-science defense of tobacco and smoking. The cynical guess says Follow The Money; but, I imagine folks have already worked that angle. No matter.

The man is a fool. He puts his political skills to work every day to oppose scientific conclusions about health. As a national leader – he is worthless.

Scientific American slams Donald Trump in op-ed

It’s not just disillusioned Republican lawmakers who are coming out against Donald Trump…Scientific American, the popular science magazine, has published an op-ed denouncing the GOP presidential nominee’s stances on a variety of science-related issues.

When the major Republican candidate for president has tweeted that global warming is a Chinese plot, threatens to dismantle a climate agreement 20 years in the making and to eliminate an agency that enforces clean air and water regulations, and speaks passionately about a link between vaccines and autism that was utterly discredited years ago, we can only hope that there is nowhere to go but up.

The magazine also takes to task a political system in which it says facts, scientific and otherwise, “have become an undervalued commodity” and in which hostility to science can be found on both sides of the political spectrum. Those are relatively old gripes, but they’ve taken on new resonance this election season.

Science has not played nearly as prominent a role as it should in informing debates over the labeling of genetically modified foods, end of life care and energy policy, among many issues.

The current presidential race, however, is something special. It takes antiscience to previously unexplored terrain.

There’s more to come from Scientific American as the US presidential election unfolds, the publication says. “In October, as we did four years previously, we will assemble answers from the campaigns of the Democratic and Republican nominees on the public policy questions that touch on science, technology and public health and then publish them online.”

I’ll second that emotion.

Milestone: July was the warmest month ever recorded — think any politicians on the payroll of Big Oil noticed?

July 2016 was the warmest month ever recorded, the latest in a slew of new temperature records set in the past several years, according to two new reports.

Scientists have recorded month after month of record-breaking temperatures this year, but July shattered all those records to become the hottest of any month in any year since record keeping began. The data was confirmed separately by NASA and the Japanese Meteorological Agency and provides near certainty that 2016 will be the hottest year in recorded history.

July was 0.78°C (1.4°F) warmer than the 20th century average, according to the JMA. Locations across the globe experienced extreme heat in July, including a so-called heat dome that hit across the U.S. and record temperatures of 54°C (129.2°F) in Kuwait…

Climate scientists attribute the spike in temperatures to man-made global warming along with a number of shorter-term climate patterns. In particular, El Niño — a phenomenon characterized by unusually high temperatures along the equatorial Pacific — drove up temperatures late last year and early this year…

Mail me a penny postcard if you heard anything from the Republican Party about this. Please include Blue Dog Democrats from coal, oil or natural gas-producing states.

TIME tried to include a cop-out at the end of the article, e.g., hopes that La Niña might make a difference. I’m on NOAA’s mailing list for weather events. La Niña is barely 50/50 at the moment to happen and the best description is for extra-normal. Whatever that might mean in your neck of the prairie.

No, the embargo on science, evidence-based reality, by conservative politicians has reached the same high as Earth’s greenhouse temperatures. The latter is a product of natural processes even when reacting to man-made causes. The former is a declaration of war on truth by lying politicians. That especially includes opportunists like Trump and his trumpkins – the usual scum who show up seeking fame and fortune from populist ignorance and stupidity.