CNN's Jake Tapper asked Vice President Mike Pence a straightforward question over the weekend: does he see climate change as a threat. The Indiana Republican gave every indication that he didn't want to answer, though he eventually said, "I think we're making great progress reducing carbon emissions, America has the cleanest air and water in the world."
The host quickly reminded Pence that the United States does not, in reality, have the cleanest air and water in the world. Complicating matters, we're not making great progress in reducing carbon emissions, either.
As part of the same exchange, however, the vice president tried to deliver a reassurance to the public: "[W]hat I will tell you is that we will always follow the science on that in this administration."
The evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. Consider this striking report from Politico, published over the weekend.
The Trump administration has refused to publicize dozens of government-funded studies that carry warnings about the effects of climate change, defying a longstanding practice of touting such findings by the Agriculture Department's acclaimed in-house scientists.The studies range from a groundbreaking discovery that rice loses vitamins in a carbon-rich environment — a potentially serious health concern for the 600 million people world-wide whose diet consists mostly of rice — to a finding that climate change could exacerbate allergy seasons to a warning to farmers about the reduction in quality of grasses important for raising cattle.
At issue are peer-reviewed reports, prepared by government scientists, and published through the highly respected, non-partisan Agricultural Research Service.
The article added that a Politico investigation "revealed a persistent pattern in which the Trump administration refused to draw attention to findings that show the potential dangers and consequences of climate change, covering dozens of separate studies. The administration's moves flout decades of department practice of promoting its research in the spirit of educating farmers and consumers around the world, according to an analysis of USDA communications under previous administrations."
If you saw the show last week, you saw Rachel report on the USDA also going to absurd lengths to sideline career scientists whose research may interfere with the White House's agenda.
Meanwhile, the day after the Politico article ran, the Associated Press reported on 74 medical and public health groups aligning "to push for a series of consensus commitments to combat climate change, bluntly defined by the organizations as 'a health emergency.'"
What's more, last week, against a backdrop in which U.S. air quality has declined for the first time in a long while, the Trump administration unveiled a new energy plan widely seen as a gift to polluters.
An assessment from EPA scientists found that the increased emissions from the plan would lead to 1,400 premature deaths annually over the next decade.
"[W]hat I will tell you is that we will always follow the science on that in this administration," Pence told a national television audience over the weekend.
Sure, Mr. Vice President. Sure it will.