The White House Talking Points About the National Climate Assessment Are Demonstrably False

Illustration for article titled The White House Talking Points About the National Climate Assessment Are Demonstrably False
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The White House tried to hide the National Climate Assessment by releasing it on Black Friday. That plan failed. Stories continue to surface and reporters continue to ask questions about the report’s stark findings.


Unfortunately, those questions have been answered with lies. Republicans have trotted out the usual zombie climate denier talking points. But the White House appears to have brought out a few new ones, too.

On Tuesday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders held her first briefing in weeks during which she put them all out there. Let’s look at her response, line by line with the steamiest piles of bullcrap bolded:

The president is certainly leading the most on this process and that’s having clean air and clean water.


In fact the United States continues to be a leader on that front. Even Obama’s undersecretary on science didn’t believe the radical conclusions of the report that was released. You have to look at the fact that this report is based on the most extreme model scenario, which contradicts long-established trends. Modeling the climate is extremely complicated science that is never exact.

The report does indeed include the most extreme climate change scenario, among a suite of other scenarios on what the future could hold. Each scenario considers all sorts of things, including the world’s energy mix, economic development and cooperation, and carbon emissions as well as their impact on the climate. Throughout the National Climate Assessment, there are ranges of outcomes on everything from temperature to sea level rise to economic losses based on the pathway humanity chooses.

It’s the Trump administration that’s choosing the adventure of runaway climate change by deregulating the fossil fuel and automotive industry and allowing drilling basically anywhere. The rest of the world isn’t doing much better. We’re currently trending toward the worst case scenario and we should be talking about what the means and the choices we faces.


Or, as climate scientist and report co-author Katharine Hayhoe put it to Earther, “It’s important to consider a range of future scenarios because if we didn’t know the consequences of our actions, why would we have any reason to reduce our emissions?”

The biggest thing we can do is focus on how we can have the cleanest air and cleanest water.


We have a little more than a decade to reduce emissions 45 percent and prevent the worst consequences of climate change from unfolding. Clean air and water are great. Also a livable planet.

We think this is the most extreme version and it’s not based on facts.

The National Climate Assessment is literally based on facts. Carbon dioxide warms the world, something we have known since the 19th century.

It’s not data-driven. We’d like to see something that’s more data-driven. 

The report uses federal data to show how much greenhouse gas pollution has increased and its impacts. The whole climate science enterprise is based on data.

It’s based on modeling which is extremely hard to do when you’re talking about the climate.


Yes, climate modeling is hard to do. Good thing the report is authored by 300 scientists who do it for a living and whose work builds on research done over the past century.

The report has also been publicly reviewed and authors had to respond to every criticism and question. There are thousands of citations.

Again, our focus is on making sure we have the safest, cleanest air and water and the president is going to do exactly that.


Right. Sure. Whatever.

Managing editor at Earther, writing about climate change, environmental justice, and, occasionally, my cat.


Dense non aqueous phase liquid

The president is certainly leading the most on this process and that’s having clean air and clean water.

That bit of wisdom by Trump’s spokeswoman as Brian presented above.

Here’s a reasonable and commonplace definition of pollution (business dictionary):

Presence of matter (gas, liquid, solid) or energy (heat, noise, radiation) whose nature, location, or quantity directly or indirectly alters characteristics or processes of any part of the environment, and causes (or has the potential to cause) damage to the condition, health, safety, or welfare of animals, humans, plants, or property.

Greenhouse gases like CO2, methane, etc are pollutants, why?

Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under the Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act

On December 7, 2009, the Administrator signed two distinct findings regarding greenhouse gases under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act:

  • Endangerment Finding: The Administrator finds that the current and projected concentrations of the six key well-mixed greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)—in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.
  • Cause or Contribute Finding: The Administrator finds that the combined emissions of these well-mixed greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles and new motor vehicle engines contribute to the greenhouse gas pollution which threatens public health and welfare.

And it held up in court:

June 26, 2012, U.S. Court of Appeals - D.C. Circuit’s Decision to Uphold EPA’s Endangerment Finding

To conclude, clean air and water means that pollutants concentrations, whether we’re talking benzene, greenhouse gases, or blue green algae, do not exceed listed or assessed action limits. And monitoring of pollutants in air and water is performed and/or overseen by federal, state and municipal agencies.

You can’t just declare air and water clean or not clean if you don’t give a fuck about the agency responsible for determining cleanliness. That would not be data driven. Only communications and business majors say dumb shit like:

It’s not data-driven. We’d like to see something that’s more data-driven. 

Fucking spokespeople. Those assholes are pollutants.