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07 Feb

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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World Politics

United States

Top scientists condemn State of the Union address and say future presidents must confront climate change as urgent priority

On Tuesday night Trump touted the country’s status as the top producer of oil and gas and boasted about how he had cut environmental regulations.

On Tuesday night Trump touted the country’s status as the top producer of oil and gas and boasted about how he had cut environmental regulations. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

A climate scientist and a former government expert in the audience for Donald Trump’s annual address to Congress said this will probably be the last administration that can forgo talking about climate change in the State of the Union speech.

Trump did not mention rising temperatures or extreme weather, although he did tout the country’s status as the top producer of oil and gas and boast about how quickly his officials have moved to cut regulations.

Lisa Graumlich, the dean of the environment college at the University of Washington, attended the State of the Union address as a guest of the Washington congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.

“I have been doing research on climate change since the 1970s, and it always seemed very far away in time and space. It was something that was going to happen when people’s grandchildren were alive. And that has changed,” Graumlich said. “I don’t think that future presidents will find themselves in this position, because people are feeling the effects of climate change.”

Joel Clement, who resigned from the interior department because he said the administration was muzzling scientists and ignoring climate change effects on vulnerable communities, now works with the Union of Concerned Scientists. He was invited by the Maine congressman Chellie Pingree.

“The Trump administration’s strategy is to ignore climate change and pretend it doesn’t exist and pretend the science doesn’t exist even if it’s coming from its own agencies,” Clement said. “To not say anything about it is just ignorance, and it’s irresponsible.”

In 10 years, Clement said, climate change will be central to all policy discussions, as one of the top three or four issues in the world, Clement said.

Several other high-profile climate advocates were invited by other Democrats protesting against Trump’s doubts of the science and his rollbacks.

This administration’s strategy is to ignore climate change, pretend it doesn’t exist and pretend the science doesn’t exist

Joel Clement

The New York congressman Paul Tonko invited the League of Conservation Voters’ Gene Karpinski and the Maryland congressman Jamie Raskin brought along 350.org’s Bill McKibben.

The Massachusetts senator Ed Markey attended with the head of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, Varshini Prakash, who is calling for a Green New Deal to tackle inequality and quickly cut greenhouse gas emissions. Markey is expected to join Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez this week in releasing expanded language on the high-level goals of a Green New Deal.

Even the Democratic rebuttal to Trump’s speech, by the ex-Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, only mentioned climate change once, in a list of priorities the US could pursue. However, Bernie Sanders, in his own response speech, noted warnings in reports from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“How can a president of the United States give a State of the Union speech and not mention – not one word – about climate change when the leading scientists of the world tell us that climate change is real, that climate change is caused by human activity, that climate change is already causing devastating harm in the United States,” Sanders said. “Furthermore, the scientists tell us we have a very short, 12 years, not a lot of time in order to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels.”

While very little of the primetime speeches focused on climate change, Democrats will hold two hearings in the House on Wednesday about its effects.

Attorney general Mark Herring and governor Ralph Northam admitted blacking up while Justin Fairfax faces sex allegation

Virginia’s attorney general, Mark Herring, said he was ‘deeply, deeply sorry for the pain that I cause with this revelation’.

Virginia’s attorney general, Mark Herring, said he was ‘deeply, deeply sorry for the pain that I cause with this revelation’. Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

The political crisis in Virginia escalated dramatically on Wednesday when the state’s attorney general confessed to putting on blackface in the 1980s and a woman went public with detailed allegations of sexual assault against the lieutenant governor.

With Governor Ralph Northam’s career already hanging by a thread over a racist photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook, the day’s developments threatened to take down Virginia’s top three elected officials, all of them Democrats.

The twin blows began with the attorney general, Mark Herring, issuing a statement saying he had worn brown makeup and a wig in 1980 to look like a rapper during a party as a 19-year-old student at the University of Virginia.

Herring, who has been among those calling on Northam to resign, said he was “deeply, deeply sorry for the pain that I cause with this revelation”. He said that in the days ahead, “honest conversations and discussions will make it clear whether I can or should continue to serve as attorney general”.

Then, within hours, Vanessa Tyson, the woman whose sexual assault allegations against the lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, surfaced earlier this week, issued a detailed statement saying Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him in a hotel room in 2004 during the Democratic national convention in Boston.

Tyson, a 42-year-old political scientist who is on a fellowship at Stanford University and specializes in the political discourse of sexual assault, said she was not motivated by politics to come forward, writing: “I am a proud Democrat.”

Fairfax, who is line to become governor if Northam resigns, has repeatedly denied her allegations, saying that the encounter was consensual and that he is the victim of a strategically timed political smear.

Read Full Article>>

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