What does some Republicans' anti-Trump courage mean for climate change?
But if Trump has a magician’s touch for pulling lies from thin air, he couldn’t have had a better teacher than the Republican party’s pursuit of the greatest lie of our time: Climate change denial, writes Rosemary Westwood.
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There are few faster ways to make a headline than to be a prominent Republican criticizing Donald Trump.
This week, it was senators Bob Corker and Jeff Flake — two men who’ve had longstanding feuds with Trump and who’ve decided not to run for re-election next year.
Branded as brave rebels by their supporters and cowardly quitters by Trump loyalists, Corker and Flake slammed Trump’s temperament, demeanour, and also his near-daily appetite for spreading falsehoods.
“We are not made great … by calling fake things true and true things fake,” Flake told his colleagues in an unexpected and biting senate floor speech Tuesday.
“Same untruths from an utterly untruthful president,” Corker tweeted the same day, after Trump launched only his latest Twitter tirade against the senator.
But if Trump has a magician’s touch for pulling lies from thin air, he couldn’t have had a better teacher than the Republican party’s pursuit — Corker and Flake included — of the greatest lie of our time: Climate change denial.
Corker, for one, praised Trump’s decision to dump the Paris Climate Accord and voted against a 2015 symbolic vote in the senate which affirmed that climate change is caused by human activity. Flake voted the same, and has repeatedly presented the unscientific and wishy-washy view that not one can “say definitely” the man-made causes of climate change.
In this obfuscation, the senators have ample company among Republicans, many or even most of whom have denied industrial causes of climate change despite overwhelming scientific consensus and with nothing less than the ecosystems of the entire world at stake.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration — stymied on so many of its grandest plans — has been quietly making great progress to shift the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) away from dealing with climate change and towards facilitating the needs of the industries it regulates. And great strides towards that end have been made this week.
Led by avowed climate change denier Scott Pruitt, the agency cancelled the speaking appearance of some of its scientists planned for last Oct. 23, where they were expected to talk about climate change's impact on the Narragansett Bay and Watershed in Rhode Island.
The EPA has also scrubbed mentions of climate change entirely from its website.
Trump has appointed — and a senate panel approved on Wednesday — a longtime toxicologist for chemical companies to lead the chemical safety office. Similarly, lawmakers advanced the nomination of William Wehrum, a lawyer who’s represented petroleum, rubber, logging and electricity industries in legal battles with the EPA, to head the office charged with air pollution and climate change.
The appointments dovetail nicely with Trump’s move that same day to end a planned review of dangerous chemicals in widespread use, including asbestos, in favour of studying the impacts of only those toxins still being manufactured.
Last spring, the New Yorker hailed Trump’s move to withdraw from the Paris agreement as dispelling any doubt that “a tiny clique of fossil-fuel barons” including the now infamous Koch brothers “has captured America’s energy and environmental policies.”
Perhaps insubordination to Trump is one thing, and it's something else entirely to divert from Charles and David Koch.