The new U.S. administration has made it clear that it does not accept the scientific consensus on climate change.
From President Donald Trump down through his nominees for key roles—Scott Pruitt for EPA adminstrator, Rick Perry for Department of Energy head, and others—key elected and appointed officials have rejected the idea of human contribution to climate change or questioned its significance.
Those views, however, are not shared by the American public.
An article published by the Brookings Institution before the recent inauguration notes that survey results show seven out of 10 Americans accept the scientific evidence of global warming.
Brookings cited the Fall 2016 version of the National Surveys on Energy and the Environment (NSEE) from Muhlenberg College and the University of Michigan.
Not only that, but the views of the U.S. populace on climate change have remained essentially constant throughout the eight years of the Obama administration.
U.S. views on the existence of global warming, 2008-2016 [National Surveys on Energy + Environment]
As the Brookings piece notes:
Just prior to Barack Obama’s election in the fall of 2008, 72 percent of Americans indicated that they thought there was solid evidence of global warming with only 17 percent skeptical of such evidence and 11 percent unsure about this matter.
In the most recent round of the NSEE—conducted in the lead-up to Donald Trump winning the presidency—70 percent of Americans stated that there is solid evidence of global warming with 17 percent not seeing such evidence and 13 percent not sure.
A separate NSEE report from last August, covering a different period, indicates that fewer Americans doubt global warming is taking place than did in previous years.
Overall acceptance of climate science broke down along political party lines, however.
Self-identified Republicans were less likely to see solid evidence of global warming (55 percent of Republicans in 2008, declining to 51 percent in 2016) than self-identified Democrats (a constant 82 percent in both years) or Independents (75 percent in both years).
Donald J. Trump in November 2016 [photo: The Trump Organization]
Nonetheless, just before Trump's election, 70 percent of Americans "stated that there is solid evidence of global warming," Brookings wrote, "with 17 percent not seeing such evidence and 13 percent not sure."
Moreover, the NSEE results show that those accepting evidence of climate change are significantly more confident of their stance in 2016 than in 2008," according to Brookings.
The future of the EPA under Pruitt, if he is confirmed, is highly uncertain.
The new administration, for instance, may attempt to overturn the agency's recently confirmed auto-emissions rules through 2025 (frequently misreported as corporate average fuel-economy standards, which are set by a different agency, the NHTSA).
It remains unclear how far the new administration will push efforts to erase its predecessor's stance on climate change, but its statements do not bode well for programs to that end.
The words "climate change" no longer appear on the White House website; instead, the Climate Action Plan is referred to as "harmful, unnecessary" regulation.
Trump has said he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate treaty known as COP-21, which could well leave China as the world's most aggressive player in cutting carbon emissions.
It appears that Trump appointees will also overturn the Clean Power Plan that lets each state determine how best to reduce carbon emissions from its electricity generation sector.
If that happens, the administration will be going against the beliefs of a solid majority of U.S. citizens.
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