Last week’s Climate Science Special Report—a government-sponsored study on the climate—only reaffirmed what we already knew: our climate is drastically changing and humans are the irrefutable culprit.
While the Trump administration and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt continue to downplay or muzzle the reality of climate change, an ever-growing number of elected leaders from all parties are speaking out in support of much-needed action to advance solutions to the climate crisis.
Agreement across the aisle
Recently, we saw Governor Bill Walker of Alaska, an Independent, call for his state to work toward achieving the goals set out by the Paris Climate Accord. Alaska’s newly created task force will report on ways for the state to reduce carbon pollution as well as adapt to a changing climate.
Recent storms have compelled local leaders to put politics aside and say that climate change is here and now. Following Hurricane Irma, Miami’s Republican mayor said, “This is the time to talk about climate change. This is the time that the president and the EPA and whoever makes decisions needs to talk about climate change. If this isn’t climate change, I don’t know what is.”
Governor Walker put it most succinctly when he called climate change a “nonpartisan issue.” Alaska’s senior senator, Lisa Murkowski—a Republican—recently reiterated her belief that climate change is real, and that Alaska is “seeing the impacts of climate change perhaps more readily than in other parts of the country.” Then there is the Climate Solutions Caucus—a group of 30 Republican and 30 Democratic members of Congress that readily acknowledge the impacts of climate change and the need to address it.
We still have work to do, of course. Too many in the congressional leadership are still ignoring this threat to the United States. But the calls for action are growing.
Leaders in denial
Unfortunately, the president and Administrator Pruitt still don’t want to talk truthfully about climate change and pollution. They did little to acknowledge the release of the Climate Science Special Report; they have sought to mislead the public about the dangers of a changing world and the role that we play in driving the problem; and they’ve continued to fill their own polluted swamp with industry insiders and climate change skeptics.
For months, the Trump Administration has been building a Polluter’s All Star Team filled with people who have spent decades fighting to block environmental safeguards, undermining scientific findings on environmental threats, and organizing contributions to pressure lawmakers.
One of the most dangerous is Katherine Hartnett White, the pick to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Ms. Hartnett White has been especially hostile to concerns about climate change, which she has branded “paganism.” She has said of global warming, “I don’t think it’s a vexing problem,” and called efforts to understand and deal with it “a waste of science.” She has even sought to distract from climate change risks by defending carbon dioxide as a “harmless trace gas.” EDF has chosen to publicly and strongly call for Ms. Hartnett White to be denied the post.
The world can’t wait
This week, leaders from across the globe are assembling in Germany for COP23—the annual meeting among nations aiming to thwart climate change. The United States will be absent, and will quickly relinquish its role as a global leader poised to tackle one of the world’s most pressing threats, including driving clean energy innovation.
Thankfully, many U.S. states, businesses and organizations will be present in Germany. It shows that more and more people are willing to speak up regarding the urgent need for action, even in the face of an administration dead-set on challenging reality and threatening our air, water and soil.
The call for climate action—from all parties—will only grow louder.