Monday, April 29, 2019

EPA chief questions science of climate change as agency warns localities to prepare for more natural disasters

The Environmental Protection Agency published a 150-page document last week urging state and local leaders to start planning for the fallout from worsening natural disasters, including floods, hurricanes and wildfires. 

The guide builds on a recent government report outlining the effects of climate change, but it contrasts with EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler's views on the subject; last month, the former fossil-fuels lobbyist told CBS that climate change wouldn't be much of a problem for 50 to 75 years, Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis report for The Washington Post.

"The divergence between Wheeler and his own agency offers the latest example of the often contradictory way that federal climate policy has evolved under President Trump," the Post reports. "As the White House has sought to minimize or ignore climate science, government experts have continued to sound the alarm. The White House has repeatedly sought ways to question the broad scientific consensus that human activities are driving climate change, and it is considering creating a federal advisory panel to re-examine those findings. But while the National Security Council is still pursuing the . . . proposal, it has encountered resistance from military and intelligence officials as well as the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy."

That's because there's an increasing body of research that confirms not only the existence of climate change but its effects. "Since 2011, the American Meteorological Society has compiled an annual assessment of how human-caused climate change probably affected the strength and frequency of extreme events such as record heat waves, droughts and wildfires," Eilperin and Dennis report. "The group has said that of the more than 130 peer-reviewed studies published as part of the annual reviews, about 65 percent have identified the fingerprints of climate change in extreme weather events, while about 35 percent found no clear connection."

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