Kelly Craft is the first woman to serve as U.S. ambassador to Canada. That's great! Unfortunately, the Kentuckian's primary qualification seems to be that she was a Republican fundraiser. In surely unrelated news, her husband, Joe Craft, is a billionaire coal-mining magnate. Together they've dished out millions to Republican candidates over the years. The new ambassador officially assumed her new gig Monday, and to celebrate, Craft sat with the CBC for an interview.
What followed was not promising.
The new U.S. ambassador to Canada says when it comes to climate change she believes in "both sides of the science" https://t.co/A4ciW1pkhT pic.twitter.com/UNKhgSMj74 - CBC Politics (@CBCPolitics) October 24, 2017
"I think that both sides have their own results, from their studies, and I appreciate and I respect both sides of the science."
This is not how anything works. Leaving aside that there are very fine people on both sides has a whole new ring to it these days, there simply aren't two sides to "the science."
The fourth and latest National Climate Assessment put together by 300 scientists from 13 agencies of the U.S. government and released last month found that climate change is real, man-made, and will cost the U.S. 10 percent of its economy by 2100. Midwestern farmers will lose 75 percent of their crop yields, and trillions of dollars in coastal real estate will be at risk. The wildfires out west, already unprecedented in their destruction, will get worse. Hurricanes and typhoons will grow more ferocious. Epidemic diseases will flourish.
This mirrored October's dire assessment from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change-compiled by 91 leading scientists from 40 different countries based on more than 6,000 scientific studies conducted by still more scientists-which found human civilization as we know it will be in severe peril by 2040, and that we have 12 years to dramatically change course to avoid that scenario.
This is reality. It is happening. Scientists determined this by going out in the field, reporting what they found, and having those findings torn at by other scientists in an exhaustive process called peer review. Only after thousands of reports from hundreds of different authors in different countries at different times survived the scientific method and indicated the same things did the scientific community reach the consensus that the climate is changing and human beings are responsible.
The minuscule number of scientists who disagree do not have anywhere near this kind of evidence to call on. Many are employed by fossil-fuel interests-or the think-tank fronts they pay-that have a vested interest in a different conclusion, or at least in muddying the waters so we don't take action. The American Enterprise Institute, a think tank that recently sent someone on Meet The Press to dispute climate science after the Climate Assessment, has received millions from ExxonMobil and once offered scientists $10,000-a-pop to dispute the consensus.
And that is what Craft was doing here. By suggesting Both Sides are equal, she is actually lying-distorting the truth to prevent action to combat the worst effects of climate change, probably because her husband and his colleagues in the coal and oil and other dirty-fuel industries could lose some money. If Both Sides make a good point, why would we take action in accordance with either one? It's all the same! Never mind that many of the people pushing climate denial do not even have advanced degrees in the relevant fields. When the former coal lobbyist now running the Environmental Protection Agency used it to dispute the National Climate Assessment-a report his agency helped author-he did not use peer-reviewed scientific studies. He used a report from right-wing content farm The Daily Caller.
You might recognize Craft's argument because it's the same one favored by the President of the United States. He recently suggested There Are Very Fine Scientists on Both Sides, and is today reportedly set to roll-back "carbon-capture" regulations on new coal power plants. Yes, we are trying to build new coal power plants in 2018, even though coal no longer functions economically-it was vanquished by natural gas, which is cleaner and cheaper-and, of course, the fact that we have 12 years to save civilization as we know it.
This is in line with an earlier Trump initiative to subsidize coal. Again, coal is one of the dirtiest fuels around, and it's now far more expensive to produce than solar power. But executives and their lobbyist still pay Republican campaign bills. The Republican Party is the only major political party in the industrialized world that disputes the scientific consensus.
Now, the Trump administration wants to loosen the rules around the only mechanism we have that even vaguely resembles "clean coal," a marketing term for the same damn dirty coal we've always burned. Carbon-capture technology helps prevent quite as much CO2 from being released from coal power plants into the atmosphere, where the gas traps heat and accelerates global warming. But even that is too much for Trump and his industry goons because it makes building coal plants more expensive. And Craft has the audacity to suggest, elsewhere in the interview, that they still want to fight for a better environment.
REPORTER: Have you read the alarming UN report about imminent, drastic climate change?
TRUMP: "It was given to me, & I want to look at who drew it. You know, which group drew it, because I can give you reports that are fabulous & reports that aren't so good." #DrewIt pic.twitter.com/qADyFlmI8i - Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 9, 2018
That Trump's ambassador to Canada shares a taste for anti-science in service to powerful energy interests is no surprise. His current nominee for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Bernard McNamee, says fossil fuels lead to "a clean environment." The EPA chief, as mentioned, is an ex-coal lobbyist. Craft's stance is a particular problem because of the extensive energy-trading relationship between the U.S. and Canada-they're our largest partner-which often takes the form of pipelines, like the Keystone XL, funneling dirty tar-sands oil from Alberta down into the lower 48. The tar sands may be the dirtiest fossil fuel there is.
It's one thing to have an ambassador with sympathies for the energy industries. (Liberal Hero Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, is a reliable friend to the tar-sands industry. His fans also might examine his record with regards to the First Nations.) It's another to have one that de facto denies an existential threat to human civilization is happening.
The United States president reportedly doesn't care that he's ballooned the national debt on the basis he "won't be here" when the shit hits the fan. Presidential! Surely the same applies to the catastrophic effects of the climate crisis. Trump has children, but his capacity for human empathy appears so limited, and his self-regard so all-encompassing, that even Barron's future might not factor into his thinking. According to the U.S. Canadian Embassy website, Craft and her husband "share six children and eleven grandchildren." They ought to think about whether even a billion coal dollars will save those kids from what's coming.