Climate change denial hits unprecedented levels

Climate change skeptics, also called “deniers” or “negationists”, are the people who put in doubt the reality of global warming and related climate change. These days, climate change deniers from all over the world and from all sectors and walks of life — religious, academic, business, political, activist, social justice and citizenry – are gaining strength after the election of US President Donald Trump, the Great Denier.

Trump has repeatedly indicated that environmentalism is not his priority. This week, he signed his so-called “Energy Independence” Executive Order at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Order dismantles most of the initiatives adopted by the Obama administration on climate change. The document signed by Trump instructs the EPA to begin the legal process that should lead to the withdrawal and the reformulation of the Clean Power Plan.

The Clean Power Plan was announced in August 2015 by President Obama and the EPA: it was meant to be a historic and important step in reducing carbon pollution from power plants.

Obama’s plan entails the investment of  billions of dollars to finance the transition from energy sources responsible for the emission of greenhouse gases to clean, renewable energy sources, like solar or wind power plants.

Trump said he made this decision to promote US energy independence and to revitalize the local coal industry, creating thousands of jobs disappeared in last years.

However, everybody knows that coal is the oldest energy source, and it is far from environment-friendly: It is particularly “dirty” in terms of environmental impacts, and even countries like China are moving away from it, after millions of Chinese citizens have experienced the toll it takes on their local environment and health.

Climate change denial in the US is best represented by one person: Scott Pruitt, the new head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, who has been denying that carbon dioxide is a ‘primary contributor’ to global warming.

When Trump appointed him as new chief of the EPA, his choice caused huge upheaval among environmentalists, worried that environmental and climate protection was going to be in the hands of someone who has consistently tartgeted environmental rules and recently claimed there is “tremendous disagreement” over society’s role in triggering global warming and climate change.

To make things even worse, rumors have recently surfaced that a supervisor at the US Energy Department’s International Climate Office told his staff not to use the words “climate change“, “emissions reduction” or “Paris Agreement” in written memos, briefings or other written communication.

A statement by Liz Perera, climate policy director at Sierra Club, expresses the absurdity of this return to Middle Age obscurantism: “Ignoring the climate crisis will not make it go away, will not create jobs in the booming clean energy economy, and will not make our country great”.

Federico Pasquaré Mariotto (Associate Professor, Insubria University, Varese, Italy)