President-elect Trump is putting his team together, and his choice to lead the transition for the Environmental Protection Agency is one more step toward an official Federal policy of climate change denial. Trump repeatedly called global warming a hoax . The man Trump has called on to shape the EPA in his administration is a well-known climate skeptic and a critic of efforts by the Obama administration to address climate change.
The man’s name is Myron Ebell, and here is what you should know.
First, Ebell is against the the popular Paris Climate Deal. In May, he hoped “whoever was elected president would ‘undo the E.P.A. power plant regs and some of the other regs that are very harmful to our economy.’” This puts his views, against international agreements to help curb environmental changes, in the scientific minority. It also raises the specter that the U.S. could pull out of the agreement. NPR’s Susan Phillips wrote a great article summarizing this issue; she hopefully noted that countries gathered at the Marrakesh Conference exhibited “a defiant optimism”.
Second, Ebell is “a well-known and polarizing figure in the energy and environment realm” according to Scientific American. He is the director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute. This institute questions climate change, supports increased fossil fuel use, and opposes initiatives such as the Kyoto Protocol, cap-and-trade, and EPA regulation of greenhouse gasses. In a world imagined by this Institute, our air and water would be less clean, and our efforts to stop the effects of a warming world would be more isolated and less effective. The director of these ideas is now heading the transition to the EPA.
Third, Ebell is not a scientist nor does he have degrees or qualifications in climate science, according to Business Insider. Despite this he works to undermine the work of climate scientists. In interviews conducted by Business Insider, a climate scientist from NASA showed disdain for Ebell and the magazine called Ebell a gadfly whose views scientists had to stoop to acknowledge and whose views had little scientific content.
This is alarming even for us here in Monroe County because the decisions made by this administration will affect our lives and the ways we interact with our surroundings. This sends signals to the way states run their environmental protection activities that business interests trumps beneficial regulations and there is no middle ground or compromise. It also gives credence to conspiracy theories against the reliance on scientific inquiry and data.
This can be discouraging, but stay informed and get active! Read reliable, independent reporting on the environment and contact your elected officials to voice your opinions on environmental issues. You can also stay in touch with this blog which sends out a monthly alert of local green events and issues. Lastly, as the Federal Government goes down the climate denial rabbit hole, the role of state and local governments will increase. This means that local reporting and activism will be increasingly important.