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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

The Toxic-Gas Catastrophe Hiding Beneath Your Home

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Larry Buhl writes in the New Republic:

In October 2015, a fragile well casing ruptured at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field in Los Angeles, California—and no one could figure out how to stop it. For 118 days, 100,000 metric tons of methane and other hazardous pollutants seeped into the atmosphere. The single worst natural gas leak in American history was not only a disaster for the climate; it displaced thousands of nearby residents for months. Even after returning home, many complained of headaches, rashes, nosebleeds, and other symptoms they blamed on the lingering airborne chemicals.

And most of these people didn’t see it coming. The majority of residents near Aliso Canyon claimed they had no idea they lived near a natural gas storage field until the 2015 blowout happened. They didn’t know that if any of the wells ruptured, they were at risk of exposure to a host of toxic chemicals, which could cause serious neurological and respiratory problems and even certain kinds of cancer. They could also be at risk of death from a pipeline explosion, like the victims of the Colorado blast in 2017.

The massive Aliso Canyon storage field, which contained more than 110 underground wells, is just a small part of America’s much larger natural gas infrastructure. Approximately 15,000 such wells are active across the United States, and nearly half of them are concentrated in six states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Michigan, New York, and California.

For the many thousands of Americans who live near these wells, as well as federal regulators who are tasked with keeping the public safe, these wells are out of sight, out of mind. And a new study shows their dangers to be far greater than previously believed.

Published Monday in the journal Environmental Health, Drew Michanowicz’s study was directly inspired by Aliso Canyon. After that disaster, he and his research team at Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health wanted to get a better idea of just how many people in America live near similar underground gas storage facilities.

After surveying the surroundings of more than 9,000 active wells in those six states, they found 6,000 located in suburban areas. Some 53,000 people live within 650 feet of a well, about 10,000 more people than previously estimated. The researchers found that most of those people had no idea about the threat lurking sometimes directly under their homes. “Because of suburban encroachment, some of these homes are sitting literally on top of these storage fields, especially in Ohio and Pennsylvania,” Michanowicz said. (For context, the closest home to the Aliso Canyon disaster was a mile away.)

This is especially worrying because most wells at underground storage facilities are more than 50 years old, and most were not even designed to store natural gas, Michanowicz said; his 2017 study estimated that one in five of these wells were built for gas production, not storage, and are thus likely to be missing subsurface safety valves and other equipment needed to store gas under high pressure. (Federal data released after that study also showed Michanowicz’s number was too conservative; two-thirds of these wells are being used in ways they were not intended decades ago.)

Failure to properly maintain wells can lead to disasters like the one in Aliso Canyon. The facility’s owner, Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), was accused in a May report of negligence for not repairing corroded pipes, and for not investigating dozens of smaller leaks dating back to the 1970s. “If there is nobody guaranteeing the safety of these other wells across the U.S., Michanowicz said, “tens of thousands of people don’t realize that they’re one corroded steel casing away from disaster.”

A study published in the June 26 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Environment International showed what such disaster looks like: The Aliso Canyon rupture released air pollutants including benzene, toluene, xylene, and other chemicals which can cause neurological problems, respiratory problems, and cancer. Now, many of Aliso Canyon’s neighbors, and Los Angeles County firefighters, are suing SoCalGasfor health symptoms they believe were caused by the leak.

But a disaster such as Aliso Canyon’s doesn’t have to occur for nearby communities to be at risk. The June study’s senior author, UCLA Professor Michael Jerrett, said toxins could be seeping out of gas wells across the country every day, not just during catastrophic well blowouts. The leaks go undetected because few of the wells in the U.S. add mercaptan, a chemical that causes the distinct odor most associate with natural gas.
There are some protections in place. Setback rules,. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 July 2019 at 3:03 pm

Trump’s EPA May Be About to Screw Over America’s Biggest Wild Salmon Run

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This is from 29 June, so it’s now too late to comment. Madison Pauly reports in Mother Jones:

The war over America’s most productive wild salmon fishery, in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, has been brewing for nearly 40 years. Now, the Trump administration appears to be intervening on behalf of the mining industry—which is bad news for the salmon and the people who depend on them.

On one side is Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd., a Canadian mining company eyeing a deposit of millions of tons of gold, copper, and molybdenum ore located near the headwaters of two rivers that drain into Bristol Bay, in southwest Alaska.* In its way stand conservationists, Alaska Natives, and fishing operators, who say the company’s proposed Pebble Mine could contaminate the two river systems, endangering the ecosystem for the 40 million salmon that migrate into the pristine bay each summer.

The public has until July 1 to comment on the US Army Corps of Engineers’ environmental impact statement issued for Northern Dynasty’s mining project. The United Tribes of Bristol, a consortium of 15 tribes in the Bristol Bay Area, released a statement calling the assessment “completely inadequate,” and said that it “ignores the many valid concerns about the devastating impacts this project will bring.” The American Fisheries Society, a group of more than 8,000 scientists and academics, wrote in its public comment that the Army Corp’s evaluation “fails to meet basic standards of scientific rigor,” underestimating impacts and risks to fish and their habitats while drawing conclusions unsupported by data or other evidence.

On Saturday, actor Leonardo DiCaprio tweeted to remind people of the public comment deadline.

As Paul Greenberg wrote for Mother Jones last yearbattles over the fate of Bristol Bay have escalated in the last decade, after opponents of the mine convinced the Obama Administration to propose environmental restrictions under the Federal Clean Water Act that blocked the project from moving forward. So began a conflict between the mining project’s backers—supported by conservative and business groups like Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, according to Bloomberg—and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA appeared to stand against the project even after the election of President Donald Trump; former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt—widely seen as a friend to industry—issued a statement defending Bristol Bay in January 2018: “It is my judgment at this time that any mining projects in the region likely pose a risk to the abundant natural resources that exist there. Until we know the full extent of that risk, those natural resources and world-class fisheries deserve the utmost protection.”

But this week, in an apparent reversal, the agency announced it would resume an evaluation of its own proposed environmental restrictions—a necessary first step to lifting the barriers stalling the mining project since the Obama administration.

In the meantime, Northern Dynasty is well on its way toward securing its necessary permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers to start mining. Since December 2017, the Army Corp has entertained the mining proposal despite the EPA’s position against it—studying the plans, drafting its environmental impact statement, and collecting public comments.

The outcome of this convoluted regulatory battle has high stakes not just for environmentalists, but also for the region’s lucrative fisheries. As Greenberg wrote last year: . . .

Continue reading.

President Trump is going to leave the US in a worse state than when he entered office.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 July 2019 at 3:23 pm

Farmers Are Losing Everything After “Forever Chemicals” Turned Up In Their Food

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I’ll point out that “forever” chemicals are also dumped into the ocean, which (along with all the other pollutants—mercury, dioxin, PCBs, and so on—are why I stopped eating seafood. Humans on the whole seem to be short-sighted.

“Forever chemicals” linked to cancer are turning up in farm produce across the country, leading farms to lay off workers, incinerate cranberry harvests, kill cows, and dump thousands of gallons of dairy milk.

Such long-lived “fluorinated” compounds have been measured in the drinking water in over 600 locations in 43 states, near factories or military bases that use them in firefighting foams. Best known as PFAS chemicals (short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), they line numerous waterproof consumer goods, from hiking shoes to pizza boxes.

Now their emergence in farm produce has spurred state and federal agencies to ramp up efforts to test for the chemicals in a wider variety of foods, and to fund studies to track how the chemicals enter the food supply.

In June, the FDA announced the results of its first tests for PFAS compounds in supermarket staples, including cooked meat, fruit, and iced chocolate cake. The health agency said it did not see a “food safety risk” in its sampling and did not find PFAS chemicals in most foods. But it did report PFAS in milk and produce that had been farmed near polluted locations. While researchers at the National Institutes of Health and CDC are still studying the health effects of the chemicals, some are known to hinder growth and learning in children, lower chances of pregnancy, and increase the risk of cancer.

Farmers, meanwhile, are already reeling.

“They’ve ruined us,” Fred Stone, a Maine farmer who stopped selling milk after PFAS chemicals turned up in it in 2016, told BuzzFeed News. At his Stoneridge Farm in Arundel, the suspected source is PFAS-laced sludge that Stone had spread on his fields as fertilizer, a practice the state has permitted many farms to do. The milk tested at 690 parts per trillion for PFAS, nearly 10 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines for two of the chemicals. More than two years on, Stone and his wife still take care of their remaining 60 cows but can’t sell their milk. Stone estimates he’s spent some $10,000 on tests and is losing over $400 daily. “Our assets are our livestock and our farm, and … we’re nothing now. And this is an operation that goes back 100 years,” Stone said.


Well beyond Stoneridge Farm, Maine state officials are grappling with contaminated sludge on farms. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection tested 44 samples from other farms and compost facilities, for example, the Intercept reportedlast month. The agency detected at least one PFAS compound in every sample.

Last week, the state reported the first results of statewide milk testing: Three farms that had also used possibly contaminated sludge did not show detectable levels of PFAS in the milk. Also, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry tested 26 samples from retail milk bottled or sold in Maine, including Horizon Organic, HP Hood, and Cumberland Farms Dairy Pure brands, and announced that all fell below the state’s detection limit.

“We estimate that this sample effort captures 75% of all milk sold in Maine and all Maine-produced fluid pasteurized milk sold in the state,” agency spokesperson Jim Britt wrote to BuzzFeed News in an email.

But Patrick MacRoy of the Maine-based nonprofit Environmental Health Strategy Center told BuzzFeed News that the state’s results were wanting: First, he said the state’s detection limit of 50 parts per trillion was too high. Second, the state needed to test many more farms that used PFAS-laden sludge. And finally, retail milk is typically a mix of milk from many dairies, so problematic milk would be diluted and might escape detection.

“The state needs to actually go out and test all the farms that have a history of sludge use,” MacRoy said. “That’s the only way we’re going to understand where the hot spots are and where the farms are unknowingly producing contaminated milk.”


Across the country, a New Mexico farm with heavily contaminated milk now has the attention of the FDA and the USDA. Without naming the farm, the FDA’s June announcement included tests near a site in Clovis — and the agency reported that it found the chemicals in the milk, as well as in the cheese. . .

Continue reading.

A plant-based diet seems like a good idea, though obviously even that is at risk.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 July 2019 at 12:42 pm

Agriculture Department buries studies showing dangers of climate change

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I don’t think the approach the USDA is taking will solve the problem or even help solve it. It seems more like a total abdication of responsibility and a criminal neglect of their duty. Helena Bottemiller Evich reports in Politico:

The Trump administration has refused to publicize dozens of government-funded studies that carry warnings about the effects of climate change, defying a longstanding practice of touting such findings by the Agriculture Department’s acclaimed in-house scientists.

The studies range from a groundbreaking discovery that rice loses vitamins in a carbon-rich environment — a potentially serious health concern for the 600 million people world-wide whose diet consists mostly of rice — to a finding that climate change could exacerbate allergy seasons to a warning to farmers about the reduction in quality of grasses important for raising cattle.

All of these studies were peer-reviewed by scientists and cleared through the non-partisan Agricultural Research Service, one of the world’s leading sources of scientific information for farmers and consumers.

None of the studies were focused on the causes of global warming – an often politically charged issue. Rather, the research examined the wide-ranging effects of rising carbon dioxide, increasing temperatures and volatile weather.

The administration, researchers said, appears to be trying to limit the circulation of evidence of climate change and avoid press coverage that may raise questions about the administration’s stance on the issue.

“The intent is to try to suppress a message — in this case, the increasing danger of human-caused climate change,” said Michael Mann, a leading climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University. “Who loses out? The people, who are already suffering the impacts of sea level rise and unprecedented super storms, droughts, wildfires and heat waves.”

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who has expressed skepticism about climate science in the past and allegedly retaliated against in-house economists whose findings contradicted administration policies, declined to comment. A spokesperson for USDA said there have been no directives within the department that discouraged the dissemination of climate-related science.

“Research continues on these subjects and we promote the research once researchers are ready to announce the findings, after going through the appropriate reviews and clearances,” the spokesperson said in an email.

“USDA has several thousand scientists and over 100,000 employees who work on myriad topics and issues; not every single finding or piece of work solicits a government press release,” the spokesperson added.

However, a POLITICO investigation revealed a persistent pattern in which the Trump administration refused to draw attention to findings that show the potential dangers and consequences of climate change, covering dozens of separate studies. The administration’s moves flout decades of department practice of promoting its research in the spirit of educating farmers and consumers around the world, according to an analysis of USDA communications under previous administrations.

The lack of promotion means research from scores of government scientists receives less public attention. Climate-related studies are still being published without fanfare in scientific journals, but they can be very difficult to find. The USDA doesn’t post all its studies in one place.

Since Trump took office in January 2017, the Agricultural Research Service has issued releases for just two climate-related studies, both of which had findings that were favorable to the politically powerful meat industry. One found that beef production makes a relatively small contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and another that removing animal products from the diet for environmental reasons would likely cause widespread nutritional problems. The agency issued a third press release about soy processing that briefly mentioned greenhouse gas emissions, noting that reducing fossil fuel use or emissions was “a personal consideration” for farmers.

By contrast, POLITICO found that in the case of the groundbreaking rice study USDA officials not only withheld their own prepared release, but actively sought to prevent dissemination of the findings by the agency’s research partners.

Researchers at the University of Washington had collaborated with scientists at USDA, as well as others in Japan, China and Australia, for more than two years to study how rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could affect rice — humanity’s most important crop. They found that it not only loses protein and minerals, but is also likely to lose key vitamins as plants adapt to a changing environment.

The study had undergone intensive review, addressing questions from academic peers and within USDA itself. But after having prepared an announcement of the findings, the department abruptly decided not to publicize the study and urged the University of Washington to hold back its own release on the findings, which two of their researchers had co-authored.

In an email to staffers dated May 7, 2018, an incredulous Jeff Hodson, a UW communications director, advised his colleagues that the USDA communications office was “adamant that there was not enough data to be able to say what the paper is saying, and that others may question the science.”

“It was so unusual to have an agency basically say: ‘Don’t do a press release,’ ” Hodson recalled in an interview. “We stand for spreading the word about the science we do, especially when it has a potential impact on millions and millions of people.”

Researchers say the failure to publicize their work damages the credibility of the Agriculture Department and represents an unwarranted political intrusion into science.

“Why the hell is the U.S., which is ostensibly the leader in science research, ignoring this?” said one USDA scientist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid the possibility of retaliation. “It’s not like we’re working on something that’s esoteric … we’re working on something that has dire consequences for the entire planet.”

“You can only postpone reality for so long,” the researcher added.

* * *

With a budget of just over $1 billion, the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service — known as ARS — is often referred to as “one of the best kept secrets” in the sprawling department because of its outsize impact on society. The agency has pioneered a variety of major breakthroughs, from figuring out how to mass produce penicillin so it could be widely used during World War II to coming up with creative ways to keep sliced apples from browning, and has for decades been at the forefront of understanding how a changing climate will affect agriculture.

The agency has stringent guidelines to prevent political meddling in research projects themselves. The Trump administration, researchers say, is not directly censoring scientific findings or black-balling research on climate change. Instead, they say, officials are essentially choosing to ignore or downplay findings that don’t line up with the administration’s agenda. . .

Continue reading.

The USDA is a bad agency, even in its food recommendations.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 July 2019 at 12:17 pm

Sea Levels Rising Faster Than Expected

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From Olive Oil Times by Isabel Putinja:

A new scientific study warns that global sea levels are rising faster than previously predicted.

According to earlier predictions elaborated in a report published in 2013 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), sea levels were expected to rise by between 20 inches and 39 inches by the year 2100.

But this recent study, published on May 20, 2019, in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, claims the IPCC’s 2013 prediction is inaccurate and that the actual sea level rise will be much more – up to twice the level predicted.

This structured expert judgement study was conducted by a research team of 22 international scientists who examined the current situation in Greenland, West Antarctica and East Antarctica. Based on their findings, they estimated the future global sea level rise according to low and high temperature rises.

In a best-case scenario where global temperatures rise by only two degrees Celsius, sea levels are predicted to rise by between 10 inches and 32 inches by 2100. This would be in line with the 2016 Paris Agreement’s aim is to keep the temperature rise below 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, if temperatures increase by nine degrees Fahrenheit due to growing greenhouse gas emissions, the scientists estimate a sea level rise of between 20 inches and 70 inches. But when factoring in thermal expansion and the contribution played by the melting ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica, the scientists warn that the increase of sea levels could even exceed 6.5 feet.

“For 2100, the ice sheet contribution is very likely in the range of seven to 178 centimeters (2.5 to 70 inches), but once you add in glaciers and ice caps outside the ice sheets and thermal expansion of the seas, you tip well over two meters (6.5 feet),” Jonathan Bamber, the study’s lead author, said.

The study’s conclusion starkly warns that a 6.5-foot rise in the global sea level would have “profound consequences for humanity.”

“Such a rise in global sea level could result in land loss of 1.79 million square kilometers (691,000 square miles), including critical regions of food production, and potential displacement of up to 187 million people,” said Bamber.

Among the areas that could be impacted most are North Africa and the Middle East, both of which account for about 21 percent of the world’s olive oil production and 58 percent of the world’s table olive production, according to the International Olive Council.

Earlier this year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned that the impacts of climate change are accelerating and that the past four years have been the warmest on record. . .

Continue reading.

And what do you think the US will do? So far, its efforts have been to increase the burning of fossil fuels, and those efforts have been successful: “CO2 Levels in Atmosphere Rise for Seventh Consecutive Year.” From that article, also by Isabel Putinja:

New data reveals that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose to record levels during the month of May.

According to readings released on June 4, 2019 by the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, carbon dioxide levels averaged 414.7 parts per million (ppm) in May 2019. This is 3.5 ppm higher than the amount measured at the same time last year.

This is the seventh consecutive year that carbon dioxide levels have increased. This year’s levels also represent the highest seasonal peak recorded and the second highest annual rise in the past 60 years.

In the past decade, rising carbon dioxide levels have been reaching an average annual growth rate of 2.2 ppm compared to 1.5 ppm in the 1990s. More recently, this figure has climbed even higher and faster.

Carbon dioxide levels have been monitored since 1958 at the Mauna Loa Observatory, located in the Pacific Ocean on top of Hawaii’s biggest volcano.

“It is critically important to have these accurate long-term measurements of CO2 in order to understand how quickly fossil fuels are changing our climate,” said Pieter Tans, a senior scientist at NOAA’s Global Monitoring Division. “These are measurements of the real atmosphere, and do not depend on any models, but they help us verify climate model projections, which if anything have underestimated the rapid pace of climate change being observed.”

Increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are an indication of an increase in the burning of fossil fuels.

If we stopped immediately the burning of fossil fuels, the global climate would continue to heat for the next 60 years. I think it’s pretty clear that we are doomed.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2019 at 8:18 am

The Trump Admin Would Rather You Not Know Climate Change Affects the Food Supply

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The effect of climate change on food crops has long been my worry, and I starting posting my worries on that over a decade ago. Food wars, I wrote, are terrible things, and I see food wars in our future. Bess Levin writes in Vanity Fair:

Donald Trump is not a big fan of science, math, or data analysis, particularly the kind that hurt his arguments for, say, cutting the number of refugees the U.S. admits to a historic low or claiming that climate change doesn’t exist and the atmosphere would be lucky to be on the receiving end of more carbon dioxide. Unfortunately, some people still believe in scientific studies and tend to get upset when they show the dire consequences of doing nothing about increasing levels of planet-warming pollution, or telling coal plants to let ‘er rip. So, in an attempt to keep the bellyachers at bay, the administration continues to simply bury all the bad news.

Politico reports that the Trump administration has “refused to publicize dozens of government-funded studies” warning about the effects of climate change, breaking with a “long-standing practice of touting such findings by the Agriculture Department’s acclaimed in-house scientists.” Peer-reviewed and approved by the nonpartisan Agricultural Research Service—i.e. not the “Deep State” that Trump thinks has manufactured climate change as a personal attack against him—the papers conclude that climate change could, among other things: reduce the quality of grasses crucial for raising cattle; worsen allergy seasons; and, most alarmingly, result in rice becoming less nutrient-rich, which would cause health problems for the some 600 million people in the world whose diets consist mostly of rice.

While a spokesperson for the USDA said “Research continues on these subjects and we promote the research once researchers are ready to announce the findings,” noting that “not every single finding or piece of work solicits a government press release,” an investigation by Politico found that these unpublicized findings are almost exclusively the type that warn about climate change:

The lack of promotion means research from scores of government scientists receives less public attention. Climate-related studies are still being published without fanfare in scientific journals, but they can be very difficult to find. The USDA doesn’t post all its studies in one place…. The administration’s moves flout decades of department practice of promoting its research in the spirit of educating farmers and consumers around the world, according to an analysis of USDA communications under previous administrations.

According to reporter Helena Bottemiller Evich, since Trump took office in January 2017, the Agricultural Research Service has issued only two press releases for climate-related studies, both of which were beneficial for the powerful meat industry. (One concluded that beef production contributes a relatively small amount of greenhouse gas emissions and the other showed that cutting animal products from one’s diet for environmental reasons “would likely cause widespread nutritional problems.”)

“The intent is to try to suppress a message—in this case, the increasing danger of human-caused climate change,” said Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University. “Who loses out? The people, who are already suffering the impacts of sea level rise and unprecedented super storms, droughts, wildfires, and heat waves.” The USDA—whose secretary, Sonny Perdue, allegedly punished in-house economists for contradicting the administration—insisted that there have been no directions to limit the distribution of climate science studies.

Of course, what’s reportedly happening at the USDA has happened across the Trump administration. In some cases,   . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 June 2019 at 12:51 pm

White House blocked intelligence aide’s written testimony saying human-caused climate change could be ‘possibly catastrophic’

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The next generation is going to have some harsh judgments of this administration and of the American public for standing by.  Juliet Eilperin, Josh Dawsey, and Brady Dennis report in the Washington Post:

White House officials barred a State Department intelligence staffer from submitting written testimony this week to the House Intelligence Committee warning that human-caused climate change could be “possibly catastrophic” after State officials refused to excise the document’s references to the scientific consensus on climate change.

The effort to edit, and ultimately suppress, the written testimony of a senior analyst at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research comes as the Trump administration is debating how best to challenge the idea that the burning of fossil fuels is warming the planet and could pose serious risks unless the world makes deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade. Senior military and intelligence officials have continued to warn climate change could undermine America’s national security, a position President Trump rejects.

Officials from the White House’s Office of Legislative Affairs, Office of Management and Budget and National Security Council all raised objections to parts of the testimony that Rod Schoonover, who works in the office of geography and global affairs, prepared for a hearing Wednesday.

According to several senior administration officials, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to talk about internal deliberations, Trump officials sought to cut several pages of the document on the grounds that its description of climate science did not mesh with the administration’s official stance. Critics of the testimony included William Happer, a National Security Council senior director who has touted the benefits of carbon dioxide and sought to establish a federal task force to challenge the scientific consensus that human activity is driving recent climate change.

Administration officials said the White House Office of Legislative Affairs ultimately decided that Schoonover could appear before the House panel, but could not submit his statement for the record because it did not, in the words of one official, “jibe” with what the administration is seeking to do on climate change. This aide added that legislative affairs and OMB staffers routinely review agency officials’ prepared congressional testimony before they submit it.

A House Intelligence Committee aide confirmed that the panel received the written testimony of the two other intelligence officials who testified at Wednesday’s public hearing, but not Schoonover’s.

Francesco Femia, CEO of the Council on Strategic Risks and co-founder of the Center for Climate and Security, questioned why the White House would not have allowed an intelligence official to offer a written statement that would be entered into the permanent record.

“This is an intentional failure of the White House to perform a core duty: inform the American public of the threats we face. It’s dangerous and unacceptable,” Femia said in an email Friday. “Any attempt to suppress information on the security risks of climate change threatens to leave the American public vulnerable and unsafe.”

Schoonover could not be reached for comment Friday, and the State Department referred questions to the White House. A White House spokesman, who asked for anonymity in order to discuss private deliberations, said in an email, “The administration does not comment on its internal policy review.”

Schoonover’s 12-page prepared testimony, reviewed by The Washington Post, includes a detailed description of how rising greenhouse gas emissions are raising global temperatures and acidifying the world’s oceans. It warns that these changes are contributing to the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

“Climate-linked events are disruptive to humans and societies when they harm people directly or substantially weaken the social, political, economic, environmental, or infrastructure systems that support people,” the statement reads, noting that while some populations may benefit from climate change, “The balance of documented evidence to date suggests that net negative effects will overwhelm the positive benefits from climate change for most of the world, however.”

White House officials took aim at not only some of the document’s scientific citations but some of the statements that Schoonover, who served as a full professor of chemistry and biochemistry at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, made about the national security implications of climate change.

The following statement, for example, attracted White House scrutiny: “Absent extensive mitigating factors or events, we see few plausible future scenarios where significant — possibly catastrophic — harm does not arise from the compounded effects of climate change.”

President Trump has been steadfast in shrugging off the warnings from scientists about the potential impacts of climate change, reiterating in an interview with Piers Morgan on “Good Morning Britain” this week that he does not regret pulling the United States out of a 2015 global climate accord aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions. . .

Continue reading.

Later in the report:

. . . Despite the internal controversy over the testimony prepared for Wednesday’s hearing, all three witnesses detailed ways in which climate-related impacts could exacerbate existing national security risks. Peter Kiemel, counselor at the National Intelligence Council, and Jeffrey Ringhausen, a senior analyst at the Office of Naval Intelligence, talked about issues ranging from how terrorist cells could capitalize on water shortages to disputes with other nations over shifting fishing grounds. . .

Self-destructive willful ignorance is difficult to distinguish from outright stupidity.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 June 2019 at 6:48 pm

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