Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Here’s What Actual Climate Scientists Think of Trump’s New Energy Plan

Presidential contender Donald Trump gestures to the media on the 17th fairway on the first day of the Women's British Open golf championship on the Turnberry golf course in Turnberry, Scotland, Thursday, July 30, 2015. (Photo Credit: AP/Scott Heppell) Click to Enlarge.
If Donald Trump is elected president, America’s approach to energy and the environment will be drastically different than it is today.

Trump made that clear last week, when he laid out his full energy policy proposal for the first time in Bismarck, North Dakota.  In that speech, Trump said he would roll back president Obama’s climate change regulations, build the Keystone XL pipeline, and “cancel” the landmark Paris climate agreement.  In a nutshell, Trump promised to undo almost every major policy developed in the last decade intended to slow human-caused global warming.

What Trump did not do in his speech, however, was mention the words “climate change.”  He did not say whether he believed the phenomenon was occurring, and he didn’t speculate on how his policies would solve or worsen the problem.

So, ThinkProgress asked five climate scientists to weigh in on the potential climate impacts of Trump’s energy plan.  Their reactions ranged from concerned to flat-out horrified.
  • Higgins: A “greater risk to society.”
    Paul Higgins, the director of the American Meteorological Society’s policy program, registered on the concerned end.
  • Trenberth: “Incredible ignorance.”
    Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, had stronger words for the presumptive Republican nominee’s energy plan.

     “[My] quick reaction is that his comments show incredible ignorance with regard to the science and global affairs,” said Trenberth, a leading expert on how climate change impacts the hydrological cycle.
  • Francis: “Greed and selfishness.”
    Jennifer Francis, a research professor at Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Science, also acknowledged that neither the Clean Power Plan nor the Paris climate agreement would slow climate change to a manageable pace on their own. But they are “absolutely critical steps in the right direction,” she said.
  • Mann: “An existential threat.”
    Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, kept his comments brief.

    “In my assessment,” he said, “it is not an overstatement to say that Donald Trump’s climate change views and policy proposals constitute an existential threat to this planet.”
  • Hayhoe: “Doing something … is far cheaper than not.”
    Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at at Texas Tech University, took a technical approach to Trump’s climate plan — specifically, his proposal to “cancel” the Paris climate agreement.  The Paris agreement is a pact between nearly 200 countries to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.

    If the U.S. dropped out of the agreement and continued with no climate policy, Hayhoe calculated that the U.S. would contribute .66 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100. That would result in warming of 2.66 degrees Celsius, which some scientists consider a dangerous level of climate change.
Read more at Here’s What Actual Climate Scientists Think of Trump’s New Energy Plan

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