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Danziger: Boiling Point

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.

Dangerous Irrationality: Climate Deniers Jeopardize Humanity’s Survival

You don’t have to be a physicist or geologist to know that the Earth’s climate is changing in ways that are destined to make the landscape less hospitable for humans. Just look around. The dangers are evident.

In the final weeks of May, tornadoes ripped through the center of the United States day after day, destroying homes and schools, hurling trees as if they were mere matchsticks, inflicting countless injuries across communities and leaving some families to mourn their dead. This virulent tornado season is just one example of extreme weather: The past few months have also seen record cold, record heat and record flooding.

If human beings were rational, our top scientists and political leaders would be huddled together, hashing out plans and policies to try to mitigate the damage from greenhouse gases — with the goal of salvaging human life. Faced with an existential threat, a fierce peril that will alter the planet in significant ways, presidents and premiers and prime ministers would overcome their traditional enmities, as they do in the movies, and come together to save humanity.

Alas, that has not happened. Human beings, it turns out, are deeply irrational, tribal, ignorant, greedy and selfish. Sometimes, we are just plain crazy. President Donald Trump has reversed a series of steps taken by his predecessors to ameliorate climate change and has commenced initiatives that will further damage the environment. Moreover, the president has launched a war on the science of climate change and the experts who practice it, trying to create widespread doubts about their expertise.

Here’s one example: James Reilly, whom Trump appointed to head the United States Geological Survey, has ordered his staff to produce computer-generated climate assessments that stop at the year 2040, rather than continuing through the end of the century, as the agency had done before, according to The New York Times. That’s because the most severe consequences of global warming will kick in after 2040.

And that’s only the beginning. Trump is toying with an idea pushed by 79-year-old William Happer, who serves on the National Security Council, to create a special climate review board to denounce the work of respected climate scientists. Happer was a well-respected physicist at Princeton for many years, but he is also a climate quack with no expertise in climate science.

While even elementary schoolchildren now know that carbon dioxide is among the greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, warming the Earth, Happer made this idiotic statement about carbon dioxide in an interview in 2014: “The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.” In a more sensible society, Happer would have been carted off to an asylum. Instead, he occupies an important post in the Trump administration.

The flat-earthers notwithstanding, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases continue to wreak such havoc that the survival of humanity is in doubt. One million animal species are at risk of extinction, with climate change among the causes, according to a recent report from the United Nations. The polar ice caps have melted faster in the last 20 years than in the previous 10,000, raising the water level in the oceans, which will increase flooding. By the end of the century, some coastal cities will be uninhabitable, scientists predict.

Meanwhile, extreme weather events have become the norm. Climate scientists are not sure that increased tornado activity is caused by global warming — contrary to the nonsense spewed by the doubters, the experts are very cautious — but some are beginning to suspect a link.

Penn State climate researcher Michael Mann said recently there is growing evidence that “a warming atmosphere, with more moisture and turbulent energy, favors increasingly large outbreaks of tornadoes, like the outbreak we’ve witnessed in the last few days,” according to InsideClimateNews.

The tornadoes add to the destruction from more floods, more wildfires, hotter days, more droughts and, counterintuitively, more rain (because warmer air holds more moisture). The continental United States has just experienced the wettest year on record, according to the National Weather Service.

So, despite the blithe denials of the climate skeptics, the planet is undergoing fundamental shifts that will prove hostile to humankind. All the know-nothings have accomplished is to ensure that humanity won’t change its habits quickly enough to survive.

IMAGE: The wreckage of homes litters a playground adjacent to a neighborhood which was destroyed when a  huge tornado roared through an Oklahoma City suburb, flattening a wide swath of homes and businesses. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Trump’s Climate Change Panel Under Heavy Congressional Scrutiny

On Thursday, chairs of four different House committees demanded information about Trump’s newest scheme to attack the validity of climate science. The Democrats in charge in Congress are refusing to allow Trump to set up the shady climate change-denying advisory group without any oversight.

letter sent by Armed Services Chair Adam Smith, Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone Jr., Natural Resources Chair Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ), and Science, Space, and Technology Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson outlines concerns about “a secret panel, led by a discredited climate change denier,” meant to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change and the threat it poses to America and the world.

That “discredited climate change denier” is William Happer, who has reportedly been tapped to lead the advisory panel. Happer is a Trump administration official currently serving as a senior director at the National Security Council, who has compared climate scientists to Nazis, mass murderers, and members of the terrorist group ISIS.

The four congressional leaders are demanding both to know the names of those who will be on the panel and to be updated on a monthly basis of any work the panel does. Further, the chairs want the panel to be subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which would allow the public to know more about the work of the panel.

The letter also lays out concerns about Trump’s previous statement on climate change, which “fly in the face of explicit scientific evidence and the findings of your own DoD [Department of Defense] and Director of National Intelligence.”

Trump has repeatedly ignored, if not outright attacked, evidence of climate change and warnings from scientists — even those within his own administration. When scientists from 13 federal agencies released the National Climate Assessment — a comprehensive, 1,600-page report on the devastation that climate change — Trump blithely dismissed it.

“I don’t believe it,” Trump said. “No, no, I don’t believe it.”

Trump has no trouble believing racist conspiracy theories about President Obama’s birthplace, will fan the flames of voter fraud conspiracies, and repeats ludicrous conspiracy theories about immigrants entering the United States, but he draws the line at believing scientific evidence on climate change.

The chairs understandably have “serious concerns” about any effort by Trump to “construct a secret committee to question the basic scientific fact of climate change.”

In 2018, voters flooded polling locations to elect a Congress that would hold Trump accountable. Democrats prove once again that they are living up to their promise.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

Fake Science: White House Will Name Panel To Dispute Climate Consensus

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

The White House intends to create a new panel of scientists with the intention of attacking the scientific consensus, both within and outside the federal government, that climate change poses a clear and severe threat to the world, a new report from The Washington Post revealed Sunday.

According to the report, officials in the National Security Council want to arrange the group so that it would be outside the normal scrutiny such advisory panels typically require.  When formal advisory committees are usually set up, they are subject to stringent regulations that require public meetings, accommodation of records requests, and membership standards.

Apparently, the White House doesn’t want the public to have clear insight into a committee designed to spread propaganda and disinformation about clearly established science.

The report said that President Donald Trump was unhappy with the fact that the law requires it to the publication of the National Climate Assessment. This review, compiled and rigorously reviewed by career scientists across the administration, stressed the serious threat posed to the United States and abroad by climate change and CO2 emissions. Since this contradicts GOP orthodoxy and conflicts with its anti-regulation agenda and the interests of corporate donors, Trump and his party are eager to combat these findings.

The Post noted that even within the military — the branch of government that Republicans most revere — the science of climate change has long been accepted as fact, even under GOP administrations.

“In 2003, the Pentagon commissioned a report to examine how an abrupt change in climate would affect America’s defense capabilities: Its authors concluded that it ‘should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a U.S. national security concern,’” the Post said.

IMAGE: A NASA satellite image showing the Tropical Storm Colin over Florida and the U.S. east coast.