There's a climate crisis – but Trump's cabinet continues to backtrack on science

(The Guardian, 29 May 2019) Conservative donors and fossil fuel companies have the most to lose from large-scale decarbonization – and they know it.

In an effort to suppress federal climate research, the Trump administration will direct state agencies to no longer consider worst-case scenarios of global warming. Climate modelers working for federal agencies will only be permitted to forecast to 2040, decades before the as-much-as 8C degrees of global warming that could take place by 2100 if we continue on our current path.

William Happer – most recently famous for complaining that the “demonization” of carbon dioxide “really differs little from the Nazi persecution of the Jews” – will lead a team charged with reviewing the science produced by government researchers, no doubt hunting for references to the disastrous sea-level rise, crop failures and health impacts continued warming stands to create.

The irony in all of this is that Trump, Happer and company may have a firmer grasp on the epic scope of these climate projections than many Democrats. As Naomi Klein argues, even the right’s fervent conspiracy theorists tend to understand at some level how profound the implications of this crisis are for business as usual, which has distributed its profits among elites of both parties.

“Members of Trump’s cabinet,” Klein has written, “with their desperate need to deny the reality of global warming, or belittle its implications”, nonetheless “understand something that is fundamentally true. To avert climate chaos, we need to challenge the free-market fundamentalism that has conquered the world since the 1980s.”

For all their bluster and junk science, Republican decision-makers have a clear sense for their own self-interest – and just how much is at stake for them and the rest of the 1%. Consider Happer himself, a retired physicist who has spent his post-academy days hopping between various climate-denying thinktanks, a good many of them funded by the fossil fuel industry.

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The Guardian, 29 May 2019: There's a climate crisis – but Trump's cabinet continues to backtrack on science