The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under former President Barack Obama didn’t wait long to tell the world what she thought President Donald Trump should do about the draft of a federal report on climate change that is awaiting his approval.
At a League of Conservation Voters event in Portsmouth, Maine, yesterday (August 8), Gina McCarthy told The Associated Press that Trump should support the findings of the team of scientists from 13 federal agencies, even though that will mean going against beliefs held by many of his Cabinet members.
The report, the Climate Science Special Report, was leaked by The New York Times on Monday night. It finds that it is “extremely likely” that more than 50 percent of the increase in global temperatures observed over the past 40 years is the result of human activity. Researched by scientists from 13 federal agencies, it is a section of the National Climate Assessment, which is conducted every four years as mandated by Congress. It not only paints a grimmer picture than before of climate change (for instance, ground temperatures in Alaska are rising twice as fast as the global average), but it also concludes that global warming has already affected every part of the United States.
“It is really showing us that there have been extreme increases in weather in a very short period of time,” McCarthy said. “The changes we are seeing aren’t simply about endangering polar bears and glaciers. These are fundamental changes that could impact our public health and welfare, the future of our children. It is time that we stop denying the science because it may not be on someone’s political agenda and start taking the actions we need to take.”
McCarthy also spoke to The Associated Press about the particular challenges that she knows Trump faces. “The job of the president I know is not an easy one,” said McCarthy, who has worked for five administrations, helmed by both Republicans and Democrats. “But the most important thing with any job is that you listen and learn from the experts.”
Specifically, she hopes he will listen and learn from the 15,000 people employed by the EPA, many of whom ae scientists tasked with doing their work regardless of political beliefs. However, the agency is currently headed by Scott Pruitt, who sued the EPA in 2015 to block the Clean Power Plan, which was signed during McCarthy’s time as head of the agency. Additionally, Trump has called climate change a “hoax.” Consequently, many federal scientists fear the White House will suppress the contents of the climate change report.
McCarthy told The AP that those fears are understandable, in her opinion. Yet she believes that if Trump approves the report, he can then embrace the necessary next steps to find innovative ways to embrace a clean energy economy.
The White House and 13 federal agencies have until August 18 to approve, alter or supress the findings of the report. “We’re in some uncharted waters here,” an author of the report who chose not to be named told CNN. “It’s either going to become an official U.S. government report, or it won’t be, in which case we would have to find another outlet for it.”