President Donald Trump (Photo courtesy Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)
During President Donald J. Trump's half-hour meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican yesterday, the pope gave the president a copy of his 2015 encyclical calling for urgent, drastic cuts in fossil-fuel emissions.
It is unclear whether the U.S. president will peruse the document.
Back at home, however, his administration is continuing unabated in its efforts to end all U.S. government efforts to stem carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.
The gift of the pope's encyclical was noted in coverage of the visit by Bloomberg, which noted it suggests that the pope is "adding his voice to those pressing Trump not to renege on the Paris accord, which is the cornerstone of global efforts to limit climate change."
“Thank you, thank you,” Trump is reported to have told Francis after their meeting. “I won’t forget what you said.”
The U.S. president has previously referred to climate science with a bovine scatological epithet and said it was created by the Chinese as a plot to hurt U.S. business interests.
The White House, Washington, D.C. [Creative Commons license by dcjohn]
Trump will meet tomorrow with Group of Seven leaders in Sicily, at an event where he is expected to reveal whether the U.S. will remain in the Paris Climate Treaty.
Last week in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Department of the Interior removed a mention of the role of climate change from a press release describing a U.S. Geological Survey study that looked at the role of climate change in rising global ocean levels.
According to a report in The Washington Post, the deleted line read:
Global climate change drives sea-level rise, increasing the frequency of coastal flooding.
The press release thus publicized a study that concludes that coastal flooding globally "will increase rapidly, and eventually double in frequency over the coming decades, even with only moderate amounts of sea level rise"—without ever saying why.
The authors of the study acknowledged that the release was not inaccurate as edited, but suggested it begged the question.
Offshore Oil Rig
The Post notes that the top U.S.G.S. press officer claimed the deleted line “didn’t add anything to the overall findings.”
"Because climate change causes sea levels to rise is not a new finding," A.G. Wade is quoted as saying, "it did not warrant inclusion in the news release."
The existence and scientific acceptance climate change has proven a thorny publicity issue since the Trump Administration took office on January 20.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website, while retaining its top-level page on climate change, has removed many of the underlying pages of scientific backup that were available to the public.
Its administrator, Scott Pruitt, has denied multiple times that carbon emissions from human activity has contributed to global warming.
In his previous role as attorney general of Oklahoma, he sued the agency he now runs more than a dozen times to prevent it enforcing emission laws on the state's fossil-fuel extraction industry, whose language he copied wholesale in state legal filings.
President Barack Obama looks at 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car at Detroit Auto Show, Jan 2016
The president's decision on whether the U.S. will exit the Paris Climate Agreement remains unknown, but reports indicate the White House has been deeply split on the issue.
With fossil-fuel supporters and climate-science deniers throughout the new administration, President Obama's signature on the treaty last fall may be viewed as going too far toward admitting that carbon emissions damage the environment.
That decision may be revealed tomorrow, though it's also possible the president will tell the Group of Seven the country is still debating the issue.
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