It is rather like putting avid wild game hunter Walter Palmer, the man who murdered Cecil the Lion a year ago, in charge of the lions at the Bronx Zoo. Or like putting former KKK grand wizard David Duke in charge of security at an African-American church. Or putting a hungry fox in charge of the henhouse. One of Trump’s latest transition team picks, Myron Ebell, as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) makes just that much sense. Ebell, as Chairman of the Cooler Heads Coalition, has long been an avid climate change denier! His organization is “focused on dispelling the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis”. Rather like Trump himself when he declared that global warming was nothing more than a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. Cooler Heads Coalition is funded and operated by Competitive Enterprise Institute, of which Ebell is the Director. Starting to get the picture?
Myron Ebell is not a scientist. His background is in philosophy and public policy, not science. In a 2005 interview, Ebell said that the UK’s Chief Scientist David King was “an alarmist with ridiculous views who knows nothing about climate change”. In 2009, Ebell said “the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is an organized conspiracy dedicated to tricking the world into believing that global warming is a crisis that requires a drastic response.” He also claims that “Energy is fundamental to mobility, to comfort. When you start limiting people’s access to energy, you limit their ability to live the way they want, to make choices.” Interesting, isn’t it, that 97% of all climate scientists have concluded, after years of studies and research, that man-made climate change is real and destructive, yet Myron Ebell, who is not a scientist, knows more than all of the scientists combined? In a 2006 OpEd for Forbes, he is credited with saying, “Life in many places would become more pleasant. Instead of 20 below zero in January in Saskatoon, it might be only 10 below. And I don’t think too many people would complain if winters in Minneapolis became more like winters in Kansas City.”
It is also interesting to note that on more than one occasion (I count at least three, but likely there have been more) Trump vowed to end or slash funding for the EPA. Perhaps he has reversed course on this, but putting Ebell in charge is as good as eliminating the department all together.
On Tuesday, in a meeting with the New York Times, Thomas Friedman asked, “… can I ask a question? One of the issues that you actually were very careful not to speak about during the campaign, and haven’t spoken about yet, is one very near and dear to my heart, the whole issue of climate change, the Paris agreement, how you’ll approach it. You own some of the most beautiful links golf courses in the world …” Trumps response was a vague one:
“I’m looking at it very closely, Tom. I’ll tell you what. I have an open mind to it. We’re going to look very carefully. It’s one issue that’s interesting because there are few things where there’s more division than climate change. You don’t tend to hear this, but there are people on the other side of that issue who are, think, don’t even … I have a very open mind. And I’m going to study a lot of the things that happened on it and we’re going to look at it very carefully. But I have an open mind. You know the hottest day ever was in 1890-something, 98. You know, you can make lots of cases for different views. I have a totally open mind. My uncle was for 35 years a professor at M.I.T. He was a great engineer, scientist. He was a great guy. And he was … a long time ago, he had feelings — this was a long time ago — he had feelings on this subject. It’s a very complex subject. I’m not sure anybody is ever going to really know. I know we have, they say they have science on one side but then they also have those horrible emails that were sent between the scientists. Where was that, in Geneva or wherever five years ago? Terrible. Where they got caught, you know, so you see that and you say, what’s this all about. I absolutely have an open mind. I will tell you this: Clean air is vitally important. Clean water, crystal clean water is vitally important. Safety is vitally important. And you know, you mentioned a lot of the courses. I have some great, great, very successful golf courses. I’ve received so many environmental awards for the way I’ve done, you know. I’ve done a tremendous amount of work where I’ve received tremendous numbers. Sometimes I’ll say I’m actually an environmentalist and people will smile in some cases and other people that know me understand that’s true. Open mind.”
Typical Trump-speak … he uttered a lot of words, but didn’t really say anything, did he? And of course he had to use the opportunity to toot his own horn … a sour note, at that. Then later that same day he announced his choice of radical climate change denier Myron Ebell. Ebell’s radical anti-science views are not limited to climate change, but encompass other areas of environmental science. For example, there is a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, that have been proven to contribute to the declining honeybee population in recent decades. Yet, Ebell and CEI completely deny any harm to bees from the chemicals and reject any role for government action in protecting bees! According to an article in Mother Jones, “EPA scientists found the chemical so harmful to bee colonies, at the levels commonly found in cotton fields, that the agency “could potentially take action” to “restrict or limit the use” of the chemical by the end of this year.” And predictably, Ebell is against the Endangered Species Act, saying that it unfairly infringes on land owner’s property rights.
So what might we expect if Myron Ebell heads the EPA? He and Trump have both vowed to back out of the Paris Accord, and Trump has promised to revitalize the coal industry. It seems a certainty, then, that the Dakota Access Pipeline would be completed, and others would soon follow without regard to the effect on land and water conservation. It is quite possible that bans on certain chemicals that harm the environment would be lifted. Wildlife sanctuaries and refuges might well be turned to other uses, either agricultural or industrial. Rather than protecting the environment, the EPA might actually be turned into an agency that intentionally damages the earth we live on for the financial gains of big corporations and convenience of the wealthy.
It is not only the U.S. that will suffer under the likes of Trump and Ebell, but every single square inch of the globe is endangered. Every life form, whether in rivers, streams and oceans, or on land, whether in the plant or animal kingdom, is in danger of extinction if we take the paths that are suggested by the ideologies of Ebell and his organizations. Donald Trump may think this is just another venture which he can manipulate, but this is the very core of life on earth that he is playing Russian roulette with. There are numerous reasons our friends around the globe are concerned, to say the least, about the coming four years, but I venture to say that the threat of disregard for the well-being of our planet is the most pressing concern, and rightly so. We need intelligent humanitarians in key positions, not idiots who think they know more than trained, educated scientists.