Environment & Science

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  • Fox & Friends offers Trump administration a platform to mislead about the link between climate change and asthma

    Blog ››› ››› CHRISTOPHER LEWIS


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Fox News’ Fox & Friends gave members of the Trump administration a platform to attack former Secretary of State John Kerry after Kerry pointed out that the president’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord will hurt children with asthma. Research has in fact demonstrated a connection between worsening climate change and the prevalence of asthma.

    In response to President Donald Trump, Kerry said to NBC’s Andrea Mitchell that by pulling out of the agreement, Trump “is not helping the forgotten American. He's hurting them.Their kids will have worse asthma in the summer.” Kerry added that the decision is “one of the most self-destructive moves I’ve ever seen by any president in my lifetime.”

    The next day, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway appeared on Fox & Friends, and host Abby Huntsman highlighted Kerry's comments about asthma for Conway. Conway called Kerry's full statement “a very disappointing assessment,” saying it “tells you why he lost when he ran for president.” From the June 2 edition:

    Later in the program, host Ainsley Earhardt also cited Kerry's warnings about children's asthma in her interview with Vice President Mike Pence, who asserted, “It is disappointing to hear the hot rhetoric”:

    Conservative media have a history of attacking the fact that climate change can have negative impacts on people with asthma. Despite research showing that lower emissions reduce asthma attacks and would create an overall healthier society, conservative media figures such as Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, Tammy Bruce, and Sean Hannity have relentlessly mocked the science and misinformed their audiences.

    According to a study published in the Journal of Asthma and Allergy, “Trends in the incidence of childhood asthma worldwide have paralleled the sharp increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, over at least the last two decades. The prevalence of asthma in the United States has quadrupled over the last 20 years in part due to climate-related factors.” Additionally, “As atmospheric CO2 levels have risen and global temperature fluctuations have increased, so has the incidence of childhood asthma. According to one CDC-based survey, the number of children under 17 years of age with asthma increased from almost 40 to 60 per 1000 from 1980 to 1993.”

  • Trump regime courting Michael Savage, fringe radio host who claimed autism, PTSD, and depression are fake

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Vice President Mike Pence and Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt are appearing on Michael Savage’s radio program in the wake of criticism surrounding the administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Savage is a climate change denier who has used his radio program to attack people with autism, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression, and has advocated for killing “100 million” Muslims.

    Savage has no credibility to talk about anything of substance, as Media Matters has documented. He’s called autism "a fraud” and “a racket"; said people with PTSD and depression are "losers"; advised people not to get flu shots because you can't trust the government; theorized that liberals have been driven insane because of seltzer bubbles; and claimed that the “asthma epidemic amongst minority children” is actually "a money racket" because “the children got extra welfare if they were disabled.” Like President Trump, Savage believes that manmade climate change is a “scam” and a hoax.

    He has also pushed numerous conspiracy theories and has advocated killing “100 million” Muslims. The radio host once worked for MSNBC but was fired when he told a critical caller to "get AIDS and die.”

    In 2008, he warned, “I fear that Obama will stir up a race war … in order to seize absolute power.”

    Savage also claimed that Obama “wants to infect the nation with Ebola” and the then-president was gearing up the government to “fight a war against white people.” Savage accused Obama of engaging in “genocide” against the white race during the last year of Obama’s presidency.

    Pence is scheduled to appear on Savage’s radio program The Savage Nation later today. He previously appeared on Savage’s program in early March and was urged by the radio host to limit immigration before the country turns into “a one-party state” like California. During that interview, Pence said that he knows how much Trump “appreciates and respects, and admires you and your voice in the national debate.”

    Pruitt appeared on Savage’s June 1 program, where they both praised Trump’s decision to remove the United States from the Paris accord. During the interview, Savage falsely claimed that “much of the science today that’s being quoted” on climate change is “fake science.” Pruitt, a climate change denier, agreed with Savage by saying that the “American people deserve truth” and suggested there should be a debate about climate change science. Savage concluded the interview by thanking Pruitt for driving the debate “in the right direction.”

    Savage said in February that he “sat with the president for well over an hour, alone” at Mar-a-Lago” and related that he told Trump “the story about global warming” by pushing junk science about climate change. (Savage's wife, Janet, is a member of the club.)

    Trump has been a repeat guest on Savage’s program and told him (according to Savage) that “without you I wouldn’t be president.”

  • Right-wing media cheer Trump withdrawing United States from the Paris climate agreement

    Business leaders and experts agree decision to pull out of agreement “would harm every American” and "devastate [America’s] international credibility"

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET & NICK FERNANDEZ

    Right-wing media figures cheered President Donald Trump’s decision to remove the United States from the Paris climate agreement, which sought to reduce international greenhouse gas emissions. But experts and business leaders condemned the decision, calling the move a “historic mistake” and “a gratuitous thumb in everyone’s eye.”

  • EPA reportedly helped Paris agreement opponents place op-eds in newspapers

    ››› ››› KEVIN KALHOEFER & LISA HYMAS

    President Donald Trump has decided to exit the Paris climate agreement, according to Axios. The news site also reported that the Scott Pruitt-led Environmental Protection Agency has been “quietly working” with opponents of the agreement to help them place op-eds in newspapers. Media Matters identified a number of anti-Paris agreement op-eds that have been published in papers around the U.S. in recent weeks, spreading misinformation about the expected economic impacts of the agreement, the commitment of developing countries to cutting emissions, and climate science in general.

  • Trump's exit from Paris agreement underscores the media’s catastrophic climate change failure during the campaign

    Blog ››› ››› KEVIN KALHOEFER

    News outlets are reporting that President Donald Trump has decided to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. Trump’s reported decision, as well as months of media speculation about whether or not he would remain in the deal, put into stark relief the failure of major TV networks to discuss the climate implications of a Trump presidency during the election campaign.

    According to Axios and The New York Times, Trump has decided to exit the Paris agreement, in which all but two of the world’s countries submitted pledges to curb their greenhouse gas emissions in order to combat climate change. Following the news reports, Trump tweeted that he would issue his announcement on the matter “over the next few days.”

    Regardless of when Trump makes his announcement, this alarming development serves as a reminder that major news networks failed to discuss how a Trump presidency would affect climate change and the Paris agreement prior to the election.

    Media Matters’ latest annual study examining the broadcast networks’ coverage of climate change found that in 2016, evening newscasts and Sunday shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC as well as Fox News Sunday did not air a single segment informing viewers of what to expect on climate change and climate-related policies or issues -- including the Paris agreement -- under a Trump or Hillary Clinton administration. This failure was made all the more inexplicable by the fact that Trump had pledged to cancel or renegotiate the agreement during his campaign and that polls conducted prior to the election showed that large majorities of Americans supported the Paris accord.

    PBS NewsHour was an exception to this trend, airing two segments before the election that provided much-needed discussion about what a Clinton or Trump presidency would mean for the Paris agreement and climate policy broadly. A September 7, 2016, segment featured a discussion with The New York Times’ Coral Davenport and The Washington Post’s Chris Mooney about Trump’s pledge to cancel the Paris accord. And a September 22 segment explored “what the early days of a Trump presidency might look like” and featured Judy Woodruff interviewing Evan Osnos of The New Yorker about whether Trump would renounce the Paris climate agreement.

    The major networks did eventually devote a significant amount of coverage to the climate impacts of a Trump presidency in 2016, airing 25 segments on the topic after the election. And TV networks have been covering the Paris agreement this week, just as they covered Trump’s rollback of former President Barack Obama’s main climate policies in March; in both cases, it’s too little much too late.

  • Here are the oil and coal companies, Fortune 500 corporations, and Republicans who want to stay in the Paris agreement

    ExxonMobil, Apple, Google, and hundreds of other firms support the climate pact, as do some GOP members of Congress

    Blog ››› ››› LISA HYMAS

    With President Donald Trump reportedly poised to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, right-wing media are encouraging the move by misleading about the accord. They're claiming that it is a job killer and “anti-Western,” that it would lead to "economic devastation," and that it amounts to an "international regulatory scheme.”

    But leaving the Paris agreement would go against the overwhelming will of the U.S. business sector, not to mention the American public and the global community. Many of the most powerful corporations and institutional investors in the United States are calling on Trump to stay in the pact, as are some of his fellow Republicans. Dropping out of the global climate accord will satisfy only a handful of coal and mining interests and Trump's most ideological aides and backers.

    Oil and coal companies that support Paris agreement

    ExxonMobil, the nation's biggest oil company, is in favor of the Paris agreement. The firm's CEO, Darren Woods, sent Trump a personal letter urging him to keep the U.S. in the agreement. Woods' predecessor, Rex Tillerson, now secretary of state, has also argued for remaining in the climate deal.

    Other major oil companies that want the U.S. to stay in the agreement include BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Shell. Many oil companies believe a concerted push for climate action will give them the opportunity to sell more natural gas, which emits less carbon dioxide (CO2) than coal when burned to produce electricity (though leaks in natural gas drilling and transport infrastructure can neutralize that climate advantage).

    Even one major coal company, Cloud Peak Energy, is asking Trump to stay in the accord. "By remaining in the Paris Agreement, albeit with a much different pledge on emissions, you can help shape a more rational international approach to climate policy," Cloud Peak CEO Colin Marshall wrote Trump in a letter. Marshall argued that remaining in the Paris agreement could encourage support for technologies that reduce and capture CO2 emissions from coal plants. Two other coal companies, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal, have not publicly called for staying in Paris, but they have reportedly told administration officials that they would not object to remaining.

    Fortune 500 corporations that support Paris agreement

    At least 69 Fortune 500 companies have voiced support for the Paris accord.

    Twenty-five large U.S. companies, including digital powerhouses Apple, Facebook, and Google, recently ran full-page ads in major newspapers urging Trump to remain in the climate accord. "Continued U.S. participation in the agreement benefits U.S. businesses and the U.S. economy in many ways," they wrote in the ad, including by "strengthening competitiveness," "creating jobs, markets and growth," and "reducing business risks."

    Separately, more than 1,000 companies, big and small, signed a letter calling for the U.S. to “realize the Paris Agreement’s commitment of a global economy that limits global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.” Altogether, businesses backing the Paris climate agreement represent more than $3.7 trillion in annual revenues and employ nearly 8.6 million workers, according to Ceres.

    Here are some of the Fortune 500 companies that signed onto the ads or letter or have otherwise expressed support for Paris:

    Amazon
    Apple
    Bank of America
    Berkshire Hathaway
    Campbell Soup
    Citigroup
    Dow Chemical
    DuPont
    eBay
    Facebook
    Gap
    General Mills
    General Motors
    General Electric
    Goldman Sachs
    Google
    The Hartford
    HP
    Hilton
    Intel
    Johnson & Johnson
    Kellogg
    Microsoft
    Monsanto
    Morgan Stanley
    Nike
    NRG Energy
    PG&E
    Salesforce
    Staples
    Starbucks
    Symantec
    Walmart
    Wells Fargo

    Major institutional investors that support Paris agreement

    More than 280 institutional investors that together manage more than $17 trillion in assets, including Allianz Global Investors, CalPERS, and HSBC Global Asset Management, recently signed a letter emphasizing their strong support for the Paris agreement. "The implementation of effective climate policy mechanisms and the regular monitoring of outcomes is vital for investors to make well-informed investment decisions that can also better support governments in delivering their national commitments and priorities," they wrote.

    Republicans who support Paris agreement

    More than a dozen Republicans in Congress support staying in the climate deal.

    Rep. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, who advised Trump on energy issues during the campaign, has been outspoken in calling for the U.S. to remain in the pact. He and eight other Republican representatives sent Trump a letter in April asking him to stay in the agreement but withdraw the country's emissions-cutting pledge and replace it with a weaker one. "The U.S. should use its seat at the Paris table to defend and promote our commercial interests, including our manufacturing and fossil fuel sectors,” they wrote. “Our engagement must prevent the development of harmful policies which undermine economic growth and energy security here and abroad.”

    Other Republicans have voiced support for the Paris deal without calling for rolling back U.S. emissions-cutting goals. Said Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, "Given the trillions of dollars in cleaner energy investments and countless good-paying American jobs that would result from remaining in the Paris Agreement, I again urge President Trump to make sure our country keeps its commitment to lead.”

    Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina recently argued that Trump should not take the country out of Paris: "If he does withdraw, that would be a definitive statement from the president that he believes climate change is a hoax," Graham said on CNN's State of the Union. "It would be taken as a statement that climate change is not a problem; is not real. So that would be bad for the party, bad for the country."

    George P. Shultz, who served as secretary of state under Ronald Reagan and secretary of the treasury under Richard Nixon, recently co-authored a New York Times op-ed titled "The Business Case for the Paris Climate Accord." And three Republicans who headed up the Environmental Protection Agency during GOP administrations recently argued in a Washington Post op-ed that joining the international effort to fight climate change, via the Paris agreement, is the prudent path forward, adding, "With no seeming clue as to what’s going on, the president seems to have cast our lot with a small coterie of climate skeptics and their industry allies rather than trying to better understand the impact of increased greenhouse-gas emissions into the atmosphere. His policy of willful ignorance is a bet-the-house approach that is destructive of responsible government."

    The Trump administration, too, has members who have been arguing for remaining in the climate deal, including Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, economic adviser Gary Cohn, and the president's daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump. Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner have also called for staying in but renegotiating or changing the standards of the agreement.

    Widespread support for the Paris agreement across the board

    As Media Matters noted last week, a number of newspapers, from The New York Times to USA Today to The Virginian-Pilot, have run editorials calling on Trump to keep the U.S. in the Paris deal. More than two-thirds of American voters support staying in the accord, according to a recent survey. And nearly every nation on Earth -- 195 in total -- signed on to the agreement. The only exceptions are Syria and Nicaragua.

    Pulling the U.S. out of the Paris deal would not only isolate the country from the international community, but also isolate the Trump administration from the business community. For a president who claims to be all about jobs and the economy, it's an unwise move.