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Kathleen Hartnett White, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality, stammered through her confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
When Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, a Democrat, asked if she believes climate change is real, she wavered but settled on the right answer: “I am uncertain. No, I’m not. I jumped ahead. Climate change is of course real.”
That’s a surprise. Hartnett White, a former chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, has a long history of challenging climate science and promoting fossil fuels. Notably, she has said that carbon dioxide isn’t a pollutant.
But that’s not to say she’s made peace with established science. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, quizzed Hartnett White over how much excess heat in the atmosphere is absorbed by oceans. “I believe there are differences of opinions on that,” she said, “that there’s not one right answer.” For the record, the number is about 90 percent.
Then things got bizarre. Appearing frustrated with equivocating answers, Whitehouse pressed her on basic laws of nature, like whether heat makes water expand. “I do not have any kind of expertise or even much layman study of the ocean dynamics and the climate-change issues,” she said.
Watch below, if you dare:
After the hearing, Whitehouse tweeted, “I don’t even know where to begin … she outright rejects basic science.”
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Miami Beach gets all the attention for its increased chronic flooding due to rising sea levels. But Miami’s poorer, inland neighborhoods on the other side of Biscayne Bay are also experiencing flooding from high tides.
CityLab reports on Shorecrest, an economically diverse neighborhood in northeast Miami that flooded during last week’s King Tide.
That’s just a sign of more frequent things to come. The Union of Concerned Scientists projects that by 2045, these sunny-day flooding events will increase from six to 380 times per year.
Miami has many neighborhoods across the bay from Miami Beach that are just as flood-prone but, being less wealthy, have fewer resources to deal with the impacts. Since all of Miami-Dade County lies barely above sea level, and sits atop porous limestone, even poorer neighborhoods farther inland are vulnerable.
Shorecrest residents complained to CityLab that they get less adaptation help from local government than richer neighborhoods. (Miami Beach is a separate, richer city from the city of Miami.) On Miami’s west side, predominantly low-income, Latino neighborhoods face flooding that could pollute their freshwater supply.
Florida and Miami need to get serious not just about climate adaptation, but climate justice.
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