The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is adopting a blank slate mentality, literally, in a renewed effort to deal with climate change. The EPA’s website, once titled “Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local, and Tribal Governments” has been staunchly rebranded as “Energy Resources for State, Local, and Tribal Governments.” A study made public by the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative this morning confirmed that 15 mentions of “climate change” have been removed from the main page, and over a dozen pages dedicated to educating local governments on how they can help to curb carbon emissions and adapt to extreme weather have disappeared.
“There is no more significant threat than climate change and it isn’t just happening to people in far-off countries—it’s happening to us,” said Gina McCarthy, administrator of the EPA under the Obama administration. “It is beyond comprehension that E.P.A. would ever purposely limit and remove access to information that communities need to save lives and property. Clearly, this was not a technical glitch, it was a planned shutdown.”
The Trump administration thinks it can address climate change by pressing the delete button. In the extraordinary wake of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria—not to mention catastrophic flooding, wildfires, and droughts—the climate change-deniers that run the White House are finding it increasingly difficult to back their backless doubts. Their response is to wipe the issue from digital existence, wash their hands of responsibility, and abandon the scientific community. The Trump administration is turning its back on scientists and, in tandem, the fate of the American people.
At the Paris Climate Conference in 2015, the world displayed a stunningly progressive and hopeful mindset on climate change; almost every nation in the world pledged to reduce carbon emissions in solemn recognition of the inconvenient truth the global environment currently faces. Meanwhile, in the state-approved reality show that has become Capitol Hill, Trump downplayed the record-breaking cataclysmic devastation of Harvey and Irma by stating, “We’ve had bigger storms than this.” Current EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt dismissed conversation surrounding the implications of Hurricane Irma as “very, very insensitive to the people in Florida.”
What’s truly insensitive to the people in Florida—and the entire global population—is abusing an opportunity to lead the fight against climate change to push a propagandistic agenda. Despite repeated studies confirming the scientific evidence that warmer gulf temperatures have resulted in increasingly aggressive hurricanes and storms, Pruitt continues to deprive the scientific community of the resources they need. In an unprecedented move, Pruitt has been removing scientists exploring the global environmental consequences of climate change from the EPA board and cutting off their research funding with the ludicrous reasoning that their studies are contributing to a left-wing hoax that empowers the media, which is supposedly profiting from fear.
Robert Richardson, an ecological economist and previous EPA board member, reported that scientists are given a maximum of two terms to serve on the board and are almost always reappointed for a second three-year term. According to Richardson’s account, many scientists studying climate change, including himself, were denied their second terms by Pruitt without a reasonable explanation. “Today, I was Trumped,” Richardson tweeted after his dismissal in May, “I have had the pleasure of serving on the EPA Board of Scientific Counselors, and my appointment was terminated today.”
“Pruitt’s purge has a single goal: get rid of scientists who tell us the facts about threats to our environment and health,” the Natural Resource Defense Council’s Jennifer Sass stated on the issue. As the global consequences of climate change continue to escalate, it will take more than a sloppy makeover of the EPA’s website to convince the world that climate change does not belong on top of the White House agenda.
Francesca Friday is New York City-based National Politics contributor for Observer. Follow her on Twitter: @friday_tweets_