The Trump administration tried to bury its own climate change report — and right-wing media helped

Trump doesn't want you to see the climate change report produced by his own administration

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published November 26, 2018 9:29AM (EST)

 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

This story has been updated.

President Donald Trump is trying to bury the findings of a new climate change report commissioned by his own administration.

The National Climate Assessment, which is required to publish its findings every four years, released its latest 1,656-page report during the holiday doldrums on Black Friday. In the process, the administration effectively buried the scientists' conclusions on how man-made climate change will devastate America's public health, economy, infrastructure and coastlines, as well as cause hundreds of billions of dollars of damage to the planet over the next few decades.

"This report will be used in court in significant ways. I can imagine a lawyer for the Trump administration being asked by a federal judge, ‘How can the federal government acknowledge the seriousness of the problem, and then set aside the rules that protect the American people from the problem?’ And they might squirm around coming up with an answer," Richard L. Revesz, an expert in environmental law at New York University, told the Times.

But conservative media have not only done Trump's bidding by burying coverage of the climate change report, but they've also applauded the Trump administration's approach.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 and 2016, appeared on CNN on Sunday to baselessly claim "This is a report generated by people who are in the bureaucracy. These are not Trump appointees."

"You mean they're non-political?" the CNN host cut him off.

"Well, no," Santorum replied. "I think the point that Donald Trump make is true which is, look, if there was no climate change we'd have a lot of scientists looking for work. The reality is that a lot of these scientists are driven by the money that they receive. And of course they don't receive money from corporations and Exxon and the like. Why? Because they're not allowed to, because it's tainted. But they can receive it who support their agenda, and that I believe is what's really going on here. No one doubts that the climate is changing. No one doubts that. The question is, how much does man contribute, number one? And number two, what can man do to actually change it? And those are the two big issues that we really don't talk about."

Danielle Pletka of the conservative American Enterprise Institute appeared on "Meet the Press" to further denounce concerns about global warming. "I'm not a scientist," Pletka began, before adding that "we need to also recognize we had two of the coldest years, biggest drop in global temperatures that we have had since the 1980s, the biggest in the last 100 years. We don't talk about that." In response to Pletka's comment, Helene Cooper pointed out that "it's just the problem is it's not the corporations that are polluting the most. And I actually think we should be hysterical. I'm going to disagree with you on this. I think anybody who has children or anybody who can imagine having children and grandchildren, how can you look at them and think this is the kind of world that through our own inaction and our inability to do something, that we're going to leave them?"

In its analysis of the report, The New York Times wrote that it described how many earlier predictions about global warming had come to pass, how ecological problems caused by climate change are all interconnected and how everything from coastal sea levels and air quality to agriculture and political stability in other countries will be impacted by this issue.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Climate Change Donald Trump Global Warming