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How the mainstream media got played by Trump

The media spent a ton of time in 2017 puzzling over whether President Trump thinks climate change is real. That was a ton of time wasted. His stance has long been clear, thanks to more than a hundred tweets and loads of comments dismissing or denying climate change.

The fact that Trump has called global warming a “hoax” was mentioned in nearly a quarter of all segments about climate change on the nightly news and Sunday morning programs on ABC, CBS, and NBC in 2017 — and in more than a third of those instances, the networks didn’t push back by affirming that human-driven climate change is a reality. Network journalists did numerous interviews asking Trump administration officials for clarity on the president’s stance. And outlets from Time to CNN cited the hoax claim and tried to make sense of Trump’s nonsensical climate views.

This misfire by mainstream media follows on the heels of a different sort of failure in 2016. That year, broadcast networks spent way too little time on climate change overall and completely failed to report during the campaign on what a Trump win would mean for climate change.

Now the networks are covering climate change but squandering too much of that coverage in trying to read Trump’s Fox-addled mind and divine whether he accepts climate science. That’s crowding out reporting on other, more critical climate-related news, from how the Trump administration is aggressively dismantling climate protections to how climate change makes hurricanes and wildfires more dangerous.

It’s bad enough that outlets waste all this time on old news about Trump’s climate views. But what makes it even worse is that they too often get the story wrong.

Consider this example: Last June, Trump’s U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, did the rounds on TV news to defend her boss’ decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement. When asked to clarify Trump’s views on climate change, she said more than once that he “believes the climate is changing” and “he believes pollutants are part of that equation.”

Haley was employing Republicans’ favorite obfuscation technique on climate change — what savvy observers call “lukewarm” climate denial. The obfuscators try to sound reasonable by admitting that the climate is changing, but then get all squishy about why it’s changing or how it will play out or what we could possibly do about it. (In fact, there is overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is the primary cause of climate change, a fact that U.S. government experts again confirmed just three months ago.) You’d think that journalists who’ve been covering national politics would be thoroughly familiar with this gambit by now. Trump nominees made liberal use of it during confirmation hearings last year, and other Republicans have been employing it for longer still.

But ABC News completely fumbled the story. Splashing the words “BREAKING NEWS” and “CLIMATE CHANGE FLIP” across the screen, ABC’s World News Tonight made Haley’s comments seem like big deal.

Anchor Tom Llamas reported that her remarks represented a “dramatic switch” and “major concession” with “the administration saying the president does believe that the climate is changing.” Correspondent Gloria Riviera described Haley’s remarks as “a stunning reversal.”

There was no reversal. There was just a stunning incident of ABC falling for Trump administration spin.

Other networks and outlets have made similar mistakes, failing to properly identify the Trump team’s lukewarm climate denial and put comments in context. Like when The Associated Press declared, “Trump changes his tune on climate change,” though in fact he had done no such thing, as Grist pointed out at the time.

Instead of continuing to fixate on (and misreport) Trump’s personal views about climate change, journalists should offer more reporting on the consequences of having a president who disregards climate science and opposes climate action. Those consequences include: Policies that encourage dirty energy instead of clean energy. Less innovation. Fewer jobs in renewables and energy efficiency. Diminished national security. More destructive storms and dangerous wildfires, and communities that are less prepared to cope with them.

Topics like these got dramatically less coverage last year than they deserved, in large part because so much climate reporting was centered on Trump. A new Media Matters analysis found that when corporate broadcast TV news reported on climate change last year, they spent 79 percent of the time on statements or actions by the Trump administration — and even that included little coverage of efforts to roll back the Clean Power Plan and other climate regulations. Issues like how climate change affects the economy or public health got even less attention. And in a year when hurricanes and other forms of extreme weather hammered the U.S., the networks hardly ever mentioned climate change in their coverage of those disasters.

Instead of trying to analyze Trump’s well-established refusal to accept climate science, media should be telling stories of how climate change is happening here and now, how it’s affecting real people, and how the EPA and other agencies are ripping up climate regulations. When they chase Trump around and let him set the agenda, the hoax is on all of us.


Lisa Hymas is director of the climate and energy program at Media Matters for America. She was previously a senior editor at Grist.

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How the mainstream media got played by Trump

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Close Encounters with Humankind: A Paleoanthropologist Investigates Our Evolving Species – Sang-Hee Lee

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Close Encounters with Humankind: A Paleoanthropologist Investigates Our Evolving Species
Sang-Hee Lee

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $12.99

Expected Publish Date: February 20, 2018

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Seller: W. W. Norton


In this captivating bestseller, Korea’s first paleoanthropologist offers fresh insights into humanity’s dawn and evolution. What can fossilized teeth tell us about the life expectancy of our ancient ancestors? How did farming play a problematic role in the history of human evolution? How can simple geometric comparisons of skull and pelvic fossils suggest a possible origin to our social nature? And what do we truly have in common with the Neanderthals? In this captivating international bestseller, Close Encounters with Humankind, Korea’s first paleoanthropologist, Sang-Hee Lee, explores some of our greatest evolutionary questions from new and unexpected angles. Through a series of entertaining, bite-sized chapters, we gain fresh perspectives into our first hominin ancestors and ways to challenge perceptions about the traditional progression of evolution. By combining anthropological insight with exciting, cutting-edge research, Lee’s surprising conclusions shed new light on our beginnings and connect us to a faraway past. For example, our big brains may have served to set our species apart and spur our societal development, but perhaps not in the ways we have often assumed. And it’s possible that the Neanderthals, our infamous ancestors, were not the primitive beings portrayed by twentieth-century science. With Lee as our guide, we discover that from our first steps on two feet to our first forays into toolmaking and early formations of community, we have always been a species of continuous change. Close Encounters with Humankind is the perfect read for anyone curious about where we came from and what it took to get us here. As we mine the evolutionary path to the present, Lee helps us to determine where we are heading and tackles one of our most pressing scientific questions—does humanity continue to evolve?

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Close Encounters with Humankind: A Paleoanthropologist Investigates Our Evolving Species – Sang-Hee Lee

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Polar ice is lost at sea

Our planet reached another miserable milestone earlier this week: Sea ice fell to its lowest level since human civilization began more than 12,000 years ago.

That worrying development is just the latest sign that rising temperatures are inflicting lasting changes on the coldest corners of the globe. The new record low comes as the planet’s climate system shifts further from the relatively stable period that helped give rise to cities, commerce, and the way we live now.

So far, the new year has been remarkably warm on both poles. The past 30 days have averaged more than 21 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal in Svalbard, Norway — the northernmost permanently inhabited place in the world. Last month, a tanker ship completed the first wintertime crossing of the Arctic Ocean without the assistance of an icebreaker. Down south in the Antarctic, sea ice is all but gone for the third straight year as summer winds to a close.

The loss of Earth’s polar sea ice has long been considered one of the most important tipping points as the planet warms. That’s because as the bright white ice melts, it exposes less-reflective ocean water, which more easily absorbs heat. And that, sorry to say, kicks off a new cycle of further warming.

According to research published last fall, that cycle appears to be the primary driver of ice melt in the Arctic, effectively marking the beginning of the end of permanent ice cover there. The wide-ranging consequences of this transition, such as more extreme weather and ecosystem shifts, are already being felt far beyond the Arctic.

Data from NSIDC and NASA

There is just 6.2 million square miles of sea ice on the planet right now, about a million square miles less than typical this time of year during the 1990s, and a few tens of thousands of square miles less than just last year, which had marked the previous record low. This level of detail about the remotest parts of the planet is available thanks to our relatively newfound vantage point from space. Satellites monitoring the poles gather sea-ice data, and records only go back to 1978. But it’s a near certainty that ice levels have not been this low in a long, long time.

Proxy evidence from microscopic fossils found on the floor of the Arctic Ocean provides proof that sea ice levels there are the lowest in centuries and perhaps much longer. There’s evidence from ancient plant material in far northern Canada that the Arctic has not been as warm as it currently is for at least 44,000 years. For the Antarctic, sea ice is more variable and no reliable ancient reconstructions currently exist — though there’s convincing evidence that there was less sea ice there about 128,000 years ago. For context, humans first mastered agriculture about 12,000 years ago in the Middle East, once temperatures stabilized near the end of the last ice age.

The middle of February is the usual time of the annual low for the planet’s sea ice (the Antarctic almost always has more ice than the Arctic, because there’s less land mass in the way); lately, however, the February lows have been much lower than normal on both poles. The Arctic and the Antarctic mostly operate as separate entities in the Earth’s climate system, but at the moment they’re in sync — a bit of a puzzle for researchers.

According to Zack Labe, a sea ice researcher at the University of California-Irvine, thinks there might be more than one cause. Arctic sea ice has been declining rapidly for decades, which Labe and other scientists are sure is the result of human-caused warming.

Antarctic ice, by contrast, began falling in 2016, which suggests the drop could be connected to natural swings in the climate. “It is too early to say whether losses in the Antarctic are representing a new declining trend,” says Labe.

Although the loss of sea ice is troubling, the overall pace of change is even worse. Global temperatures are rising at a rate far in excess of anything seen in recent Earth history. That means, in all likelihood, these latest records were made to be broken.

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Polar ice is lost at sea

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African Americans will pay a steep price for Trump’s new solar tariff

This story was originally published by CityLab and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Last week, a 30 percent tariff that President Donald Trump tacked onto imported solar panels kicked in. Industry experts are predicting it will end up costing the U.S. 23,000 solar jobs in 2018 alone. There’s still a lot of uncertainty about how precisely the new tariff will impact domestic solar panel sales and jobs, but GTM Research expects it to slow the residential solar market by nearly 10 percent between now and 2022. That could affect the number of solar jobs in the future, especially where the power drill hits the rooftop — more than three-fourths of solar jobs in the U.S. are in demand-side sectors such as installation.

The United States was enjoying a 168 percent growth rate in solar jobs since 2010, according to the 2017 Solar Jobs Census report released last week. African Americans in particular have seen a burst in solar workforce participation over the past few years, constituting 7.4 percent of the workforce in 2017, compared to 6.6 percent the year before and 5.2 percent in 2015.

This, of course, is hardly proportional to the general working-age black population, but African Americans were the only racial group to see their share of the solar workforce significantly expand between 2016 and 2017 — every other group, save for whites, saw a drop.

In fact, the entire solar industry saw a decline in jobs last year, losing an estimated 9,800 jobs from 2016. This was the first year the solar census recorded a drop-off since it began tracking job numbers in 2010. The anomalous solar jobs increase found among African Americans is driven in part by the widening list of jurisdictions with large black populations that have adopted new solar policies — states like New York, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C., according to the report.

The National Solar Foundation

The depression found otherwise across the industry can be attributed to the cool-down in solar projects in states like California and Massachusetts, where solar already had a stronghold. There was a surge in solar power development in 2016, when there was something of a panic about federal solar tax credits expiring that year (Congress later extended those tax credits).

However, the solar market was rattled once again in 2017 when two solar power manufacturing companies, the bankruptcy-headed Suniva and SolarWorld Americas, petitioned the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to adjust the prices of imported solar panels via tariff because they claimed they couldn’t compete. This is what triggered Trump’s decision in January to levy the tariff, based on an ITC ruling in September that sided with the two companies.

The Solar Energy Industries Association took umbrage, saying that such tariffs would not save those two solar companies from bankruptcy, but would “create a crisis in a part of our economy that has been thriving.” The trade group was joined in opposition by organizations that tilt conservative and promote free-market policies, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, whose International Relations and Federalism Task Force director Karla Jones wrote before the ITC decision:

Over 38,000 solar workers are employed in manufacturing positions at firms domestically making solar components like inverters, racking systems and more. Guess what happens if one doubles the price of solar panels in America? This thriving industry will quickly succumb to tough competition from natural gas, coal and other forms of energy. Those 38,000 manufacturing jobs might disappear if artificially high input costs price the entire industry out of existence. Just ask the domestic steel industry, which blends tens of thousands of domestic jobs after the last successful Section 201 petition slapped tariffs on imported steel.

Since Trump followed through on the tariff, one major question has been whether it would impact urban-scale projects, especially with the spread of solar power developments for low-income households and community-shared distribution. Also, will the steady growth in employment for African Americans in urban centers now be blunted due to the expected rise in solar panel costs?

As the NAACP recently noted in the launch of its new Solar Equity Initiative, low-income households spend more than twice as much of their take-home wages on lighting and heating their homes than do middle-class and wealthy households, and nearly 70 percent of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. Which means they live with those plants’ air pollution. Scaling up and pricing down solar costs could help alleviate those problems.

It’s too early to tell what impact this will have on city-located solar jobs with the tariff just kicking in this week. The bulk of the cost of solar projects is mostly in labor, permitting, and installation, even for systems in low-income areas. The cost of panels is usually less than 15 percent of the total cost of these kinds of projects. Still, the future is somewhat uncertain for some organizations that have committed to spreading solar to poor families.

One organization grappling with this issue is Civic Works, a Baltimore nonprofit. It just completed the pilot phase of a new solar initiative that installed solar panels on the rooftops of 10 houses in several low-income communities, including Sandtown-Winchester, the neighborhood where Freddie Gray, who had asthma, was arrested before he was later found dead in police custody.

A loan from the City of Baltimore’s Energy Initiative Loan Program gave the nonprofit the capital to cover all the upfront costs of solar installation on the houses it’s serving. Civic Works will receive additional help from the 30 percent federal solar tax credit to recoup some of those costs, which is generally how low-income solar is financed. Many of the nonprofit’s workers are people who’ve been incarcerated and unemployed. However, nonprofits usually are working on very thin-margin budgets in this game, and can’t afford anything even a little financially surprising.

“Our suppliers have told us, ‘Don’t worry, we have tons of solar panels already,’ so it’s not something that’s going to affect us immediately, but it will down the line,” said Earl Millett, Civic Works’ chief operating officer. “To get the project done that we just did at the end of 2017, we needed everything to pull together perfectly, and we still had just a little wiggle room in the economics.”

Millett continued: “The economics are tough to work out with any solar project, though, and doing it on low-income homes adds an extra complexity. But it’s something people are working to overcome, because having a large segment of our population miss out on the benefits of solar just because they’re low-income residents shouldn’t be acceptable.”

Anya Schoolman, executive director of Solar United Neighbors of D.C., said the the real impact of the tariff will be felt on large utility-scale solar projects, like the fields of panels you might find on undeveloped land or in a desert. Solar United Neighbors has been working to spread community solar and also embarked on a project to rest solar panels on the roofs of 220 low-income households in D.C., at no cost to the homeowners.

“The tariffs are going to be an issue, but it’s one of the smaller variables,” said Schoolman. “We have many other variables to consider such as permitting costs [and] interconnection costs, which are what the utility companies charge, and those things end up making a bigger difference.”

However, the blow to the larger utility-scale solar projects is not insignificant. According to Schoolman, those projects, some of which are now on hold because of the tariff, were just beginning to compete with coal and natural gas. The 2017 Solar Jobs Census found that 86 percent of surveyed solar businesses said the tariff would negatively impact their company. The census also reported that 78 percent of project developers and 70 percent of companies that do installations would decrease their solar activities under new trade restrictions. This was all before Trump imposed the tariff. Since then, one major solar project in Texas has been stalled, according to Utility Dive.

The tariff directly affects only jobs in the manufacturing industry, which account for roughly 15 percent of the solar industry. The installation sector, by comparison, accounts for roughly 52 percent of the industry. Neither Millett nor Schoolman thought the tariff would have any real impact on installation jobs in their programs, at least not immediately, despite the prospect of panel prices slightly rising. Both the installation and manufacturing sectors experienced job losses in 2017, according to the Solar Jobs Census.

Stacey Danner, who ran a company that financed solar panels for low-income households in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, said he didn’t understand why Trump would kick the solar industry while it was down with this tariff.

“If you’re talking about jobs and building the industry, then this isn’t the way to do it because you’re throwing workers from thriving businesses in a nascent industry out,” he said. “Now they are back at square one, which puts them back on unemployment and back on welfare rolls. And I thought that what this was what Trump’s policies were supposed to prevent?”

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African Americans will pay a steep price for Trump’s new solar tariff

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How to Live on Mars – Robert Zubrin

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How to Live on Mars

A Trusty Guidebook to Surviving and Thriving on the Red Planet

Robert Zubrin

Genre: Astronomy

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: December 2, 2008

Publisher: Crown/Archetype

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


Thinking about moving to mars? Well, why not? Mars, after all, is the planet that holds the greatest promise for human colonization. But why speculate about the possibilities when you can get the real scientific scoop from someone who’s been happily living and working there for years? Straight from the not-so-distant future, this intrepid pioneer’s tips for physical, financial, and social survival on the Red Planet cover: • How to get to Mars (Cycling spacecraft offer cheap rides, but the smell is not for everyone.) • Choosing a spacesuit (The old-fashioned but reliable pneumatic Neil Armstrong style versus the sleek new—but anatomically unforgiving—elastic “skinsuit.”) • Selecting a habitat (Just like on Earth: location, location, location.) • Finding a job that pays well and doesn’t kill you (This is not a metaphor on Mars.) • How to meet the opposite sex (Master more than forty Mars-centric pickup lines.) With more than twenty original illustrations by Michael Carroll, Robert Murray, and other renowned space artists, How to Live on Mars seamlessly blends humor and real science, and is a practical and exhilarating guide to life on our first extraterrestrial home. From the Trade Paperback edition.

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How to Live on Mars – Robert Zubrin

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Coal lobbyist on track to become a top dog at EPA

This story was originally published by HuffPost and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Andrew Wheeler, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be Environmental Protection Agency deputy administrator, appeared poised and polished at his Senate confirmation hearing in November. He couched his objections to widely accepted climate science in ambiguous legalese, and kept his cool when, at the same hearing, Kathleen Hartnett White, the president’s pick for the Council on Environmental Quality, flamed out, stammering over questions of basic science.

On Saturday, the White House announced plans to pull Hartnett White’s nomination amid waning Republican support. But on Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 11 to 10 along party lines to advance Wheeler’s nomination, putting him one step from the EPA’s No. 2 job.

The restraint that steeled Wheeler’s nomination seems likely to clear the way for his confirmation. Unlike other Trump nominees whose outrageous opinions or lack of qualifications put them on the political fringe, Wheeler boasts both the Beltway aesthetic and the experience needed to become a powerful EPA operator. His confirmation, critics fear, will speed the Trump administration’s rollback of environmental and public health protections, and make a lasting, if quieter, impact.

“It’s very alarming and distressing,” Mary Anne Hitt, a campaign director at the Sierra Club, told HuffPost. “He is right up there with the list of the most extreme people that Trump has nominated for any agency.”

Wheeler, a coal lobbyist and former legislative aide to Oklahoma Republican Senator Jim Inhofe, is widely seen as having the relationships and finesse needed to avoid legal potholes while driving the EPA’s deregulatory agenda. He knows how to work the system from within, having spent four years working at the EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He said the right things to woo critics at his confirmation hearing, calling EPA staffers “the most dedicated and hard-working employees in the federal government.”

“The mission of the EPA to protect human health and the environment is critical to our country and its citizens and something that I take very seriously and I know you do, too,” Wheeler said.

The EPA did not respond to HuffPost’s request to interview Wheeler, and directed questions about his nomination to the Senate committee. Faegre Baker Daniels, the law firm where Wheeler currently works, directed HuffPost to the EPA.

“Andrew will bring extraordinary credentials to EPA that will greatly assist the Agency as we work to implement our agenda,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said when Wheeler was nominated in October. “He has spent his entire career working to improve environmental outcomes for Americans across the country and understands the importance of providing regularity and certainty for our country.”

Wheeler won approval from the Senate panel last year, but his nomination never came to the full chamber for a final confirmation vote. His nomination was returned to the committee as a matter of procedure when the new legislative session began last month.

If Wheeler has anything stacked against him, it could be a 2016 Facebook post he wrote calling Trump a “bully” who “hasn’t been that successful” in business and who “has more baggage then all the other Republican candidates combined.” The remarks, surfaced in October by The Washington Post, gained new relevance this month after reporters unearthed two 2016 radio interviews in which Pruitt called Trump a “bully” and an “empty vessel” on “the Constitution and rule of law.”

On Wednesday morning, The Intercept published a report detailing fundraisers Wheeler held for Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, and Inhofe in May. The Sierra Club called on the Senate panel to delay the vote and open an investigation.

But that didn’t deter Republicans, who held the vote on schedule, even as many federal employees delayed morning activities by two hours because of snow.

“He’ll do a good job and I’m glad he’s going to be confirmed,” Inhofe said after Wednesday’s vote.

Wheeler is likely to be confirmed in the full Senate, where the GOP holds a narrow majority. No Republicans publicly oppose him, and Democrats senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota — who generally vote with the GOP on fossil fuel issues — are likely to vote for Wheeler. Neither senator responded to requests for comment on Monday.

To boot, Democrats have already spent political capital to upend more egregious environmental nominations. Those include Hartnett White — who credited coal with abolishing slavery and suggested increased carbon dioxide emissions were good for the planet — and Michael Dourson, whose consultancy was described in 2014 by InsideClimate News as the “one-stop science shop” favored by the chemical and tobacco industries seeking affirmative research. Pruitt picked Dourson to lead the EPA’s chemical safety division, but withdrew the nomination in December after two Republican senators said they would not vote for him.

Democrats seem more at ease with Wheeler’s nomination. No Democrat raised concerns about Wheeler last week during Pruitt’s first Senate hearing since taking office, though no Democrat voted for Wheeler on Wednesday.

The choice of Wheeler is itself a naked gift to the coal industry, which has yielded outsized influence over the Trump White House. Wheeler lobbied on behalf of coal mining giant Murray Energy as recently as last year, disclosure filings show.

“This is the swamp,” Senator Jeff Merkley said at Wednesday’s hearing. “This does not serve the American people. And we should reject this nomination.”

The company’s bombastic chief executive, Bob Murray, has already played a major role in shaping Trump administration energy and environmental policies. Last month, Murray’s so-called “action plan,” became public. The proposals include a federal bailout of coal-fired plants, repeal of the Clean Power Plan, and reopening of the 2009 EPA “endangerment finding” that determined carbon dioxide pollution poses a risk to public health.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in a break with the White House, rejected the bailout plan. Pruitt announced his repeal of the Clean Power Plan, a suite of rules to reduce emissions from power plants, in October. But the administration’s decision on the so-called endangerment finding is up in the air. Despite calls from ardent climate-change deniers to reopen the finding, overturning the conclusion would require disproving the science behind human-caused climate change in court — an extremely unlikely prospect. Pruitt said last week that he had not yet decided whether to challenge the finding.

Wheeler could be the man to lead that assault. In October, Pruitt railed against the endangerment finding for citing the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In what appeared to be a dog whistle to nationalists, he claimed the endangerment finding “represents, and this is the first time in history this has ever occurred, this agency took work product of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and adopted it, transferred it to this agency and used that as the basis, underpinnings, of the endangerment finding.”

In reality, the technical support document on the endangerment finding references more than 100 published scientific studies and cites peer-reviewed syntheses of climate research by the White House’s Global Change Research Program, the National Research Council of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the U.N.’s IPCC.

But the criticism echoes Wheeler’s own suggestions. In March 2010, he accused the IPCC of blurring “the lines between science and advocacy” and functioning “more as a political body than a scientific body.” He suggested the EPA could “reconsider its endangerment finding without almost exclusively relying upon the IPCC,” according to remarks posted to his website.

“I believe that man has an impact on the climate, but what’s not completely understood is what the impact is,” Wheeler said at his confirmation hearing when aggressively questioned about the findings of the federal government’s latest climate report.

Wheeler’s Senate career gives pause to environmentalists, too. Inhofe, who serves on the Senate panel voting on his nomination, is one of the most ardent climate-change deniers in Congress. In 2015, the Oklahoma Republican brought a snowball to the Senate floor in a comically flamboyant attempt to prove climate change is a hoax. Inhofe is a close ally of Pruitt, who is said to be considering a bid for his seat when the 83-year-old senator retires. Pruitt’s ambitions raise the prospect that Wheeler could, as The New Republic pointed out, become the next EPA administrator.

“Andrew Wheeler’s nomination is very much in keeping with the Trump administration’s agenda of fossil fuel exploitation and climate inaction,” Michael Mann, a climatologist at Penn State University and coauthor of a book on climate change denialism, told HuffPost. “The environmental community’s celebration of the failed nomination of climate-change denier Kathleen Hartnett White to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality may be short-lived.”

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Coal lobbyist on track to become a top dog at EPA

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Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy – Melvin Konner, MD

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Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy
Melvin Konner, MD

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: March 9, 2015

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Seller: W. W. Norton


“A sparkling, thought-provoking account of sexual differences. Whether you’re a man or a woman, you’ll find his conclusions gripping.”—Jared Diamond There is a human genetic fluke that is surprisingly common, due to a change in a key pair of chromosomes. In the normal condition the two look the same, but in this disorder one is malformed and shrunken beyond recognition. The result is a shortened life span, higher mortality at all ages, an inability to reproduce, premature hair loss, and brain defects variously resulting in attention deficit, hyperactivity, conduct disorder, hypersexuality, and an enormous excess of both outward and self-directed aggression. It is called maleness. Melvin Konner traces the arc of evolution to explain the relationships between women and men. With patience and wit he explores the knotty question of whether men are necessary in the biological destiny of the human race. He draws on multiple, colorful examples from the natural world—such as the mating habits of the octopus, black widow, angler fish, and jacana—and argues that maleness in humans is hardly necessary to the survival of the species. In characteristically humorous and engaging prose, Konner sheds light on our biologically different identities, while noting the poignant exceptions that challenge the male/female divide. We meet hunter-gatherers such as those in Botswana, whose culture gave women a prominent place, invented the working mother, and respected women’s voices around the fire. Recent human history has upset this balance, as a dense world of war fostered extreme male dominance. But our species has been recovering over the past two centuries, and an unstoppable move toward equality is afoot. It will not be the end of men, but it will be the end of male supremacy and a better, wiser world for women and men alike.

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Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy – Melvin Konner, MD

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Secrets of Mental Math – Arthur Benjamin & Michael Shermer

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Secrets of Mental Math
The Mathemagician’s Guide to Lightning Calculation and Amazing Math Tricks
Arthur Benjamin & Michael Shermer

Genre: Mathematics

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: August 8, 2006

Publisher: Crown/Archetype

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


These simple math secrets and tricks will forever change how you look at the world of numbers. Secrets of Mental Math will have you thinking like a math genius in no time. Get ready to amaze your friends—and yourself—with incredible calculations you never thought you could master, as renowned “mathemagician” Arthur Benjamin shares his techniques for lightning-quick calculations and amazing number tricks. This book will teach you to do math in your head faster than you ever thought possible, dramatically improve your memory for numbers, and—maybe for the first time—make mathematics fun. Yes, even you can learn to do seemingly complex equations in your head; all you need to learn are a few tricks. You’ll be able to quickly multiply and divide triple digits, compute with fractions, and determine squares, cubes, and roots without blinking an eye. No matter what your age or current math ability, Secrets of Mental Math will allow you to perform fantastic feats of the mind effortlessly. This is the math they never taught you in school.

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Secrets of Mental Math – Arthur Benjamin & Michael Shermer

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Scott Pruitt suspends Obama-era Clean Water Rule for two years

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

On Wednesday, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt formally suspended the Obama-era Clean Water Rule for two years, while the Trump administration works to repeal and replace the rule with their own, industry-friendly version.

Also known as Waters of the United States (WOTUS), the rule was established by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers in 2015. Largely celebrated by environmental groups, it expanded the protection of headwaters, streams, and 20 million acres of wetlands under the 1972 Clean Water Act. It also held farmers and real estate developers accountable for runoff pollution in streams running through their property. Over 100 parties initially challenged Obama’s rule, including business groups and some Republican officials, arguing that it was an overstep of government power.

WOTUS has been a target of Pruitt’s for years, even before he was in Washington; as Oklahoma attorney general, in 2015 he helped lead a multi-state lawsuit against the rule, calling it the “greatest blow to private property rights the modern era has seen.”

“Today, E.P.A. is taking action to reduce confusion and provide certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers,” Pruitt said in a statement Wednesday night. “The 2015 WOTUS rule developed by the Obama administration will not be applicable for the next two years, while we work through the process of providing long-term regulatory certainty across all 50 states about what waters are subject to federal regulation.”

Shortly after taking office, President Trump issued an executive order directing the EPA and the Department of the Army to rescind or revise the rule. In June, administration officials signed a proposed rule that aimed to revert environmental protection standards of water and wetlands to pre-Obama levels. A month later, it was published in the Federal Register. Wednesday’s action buys time for the administration to officially kill the rule.

As expected, environmental groups are outraged over the Trump administration’s decision to roll back WOTUS. Jon Devine, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Water Program, said in a statement the action is “grossly irresponsible, and illegal — and [the NRDC] will challenge it in court.” Last year, the Environmental Defense Fund’s senior vice president for ecosystems, David Festa, said in a blog post that the Trump administration’s rationale for withdrawing the rule is “arbitrary” and “dead wrong.”

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Scott Pruitt suspends Obama-era Clean Water Rule for two years

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Trump shared his thoughts on climate change, and surprise, they’re dumb

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, French President Emmanuel Macron made headlines for poking fun at his American counterpart’s well-documented history of climate change denial.

Now, remarks from President Donald Trump on the issue, which were also recorded in Davos but aired in Britain Sunday evening, are providing additional context to Macron’s spot-on mockery.

“There is a cooling and there’s a heating,” Trump told Piers Morgan in an interview with Britain’s ITV. “I mean, look, it used to not be climate change, it used to be global warming. That wasn’t working too well because it was getting too cold all over the place.”

He then addressed the subject of polar ice cap melting. “The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records,” Trump said. “They’re at a record level.”

In reality, human-made global warming has far outpaced any short-term cooling. Nevertheless, climate change skeptics regularly cherry-pick such data points that fail to account for long-term trends, which consistently show that the planet’s temperature is rising.

Like Trump’s past musings on global warming, his latest observations fly in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence. They also recall a May Politico report in which Trump fell for a hoax Time magazine cover that supposedly warned about a coming ice age. K.T. McFarland, the former deputy national security adviser, reportedly snuck the fake cover onto Trump’s desk with the intention of irritating Trump on the topic of climate change.

A White House official defended McFarland, saying that the cover was “fake but accurate.” Whatever that means.

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Trump shared his thoughts on climate change, and surprise, they’re dumb

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