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Climate, Health and Equity

Disinformation, Denial and Deceit

Written By: Matt James and Traci Siegel

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Climate, Health and Equity

DATE POSTED

October 25, 2019


Disinformation, Denial and Deceit

Hot Topic: Betrayed.  Both the fossil fuel industry and the Trump Administration have been exposed this week for their calculated efforts to deceive the American public on the dangers of climate change.

In the private sector, Exxon faces damning research, intensifying media scrutiny and mounting legal action for hiding the impact and cost of fossil fuel emissions from shareholders and the public. A study by three universities examined decades of internal Exxon memos to show that the fossil fuel industry knew the basics about climate science in the 1950s, devised strategies to refute it in the 1980s, and began actively orchestrating climate disinformation campaigns designed to protect their bottom line in the 1990s.

And in Washington, a triple whammy from the Trump Administration: A series of investigative reports finds that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has routinely buried government-funded studies warning about the dangers of climate change, even as U.S. farmers face financial devastation from its impacts. President Trump re-confirmed his intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, promising that his pro-fossil fuel policies will turn America into an “energy superpower.”  And U.S. air pollution has increased by more than five percent in the last three years—compared to a 24 percent decrease during President Obama’s tenure—resulting in nearly 10,000 more premature deaths.

As wildfires once again threaten lives here in California, we ask: with the climate unquestionably changing, how long will it be until those in power are held accountable?

—Matt & Traci, GMMB

Politics & Economy
A new paper from three prominent universities examines internal Exxon strategy memos dating back to the 1970s to show how the fossil fuel industry deliberately misled the public for decades about the climate impact of fossil fuels. (EcoWatch) Exxon is in court in New York this week on charges that it kept a secret set of financial books to hide the costs and consequences of climate change from its shareholders and the public. (The New York Times) The influx of lawsuits against fossil fuel companies is expected to increase, in part based on research showing that just 90 companies have produced nearly two-thirds of the world’s industrial emissions. (Politico) A formal investigation into the U.S. Department of Agriculture has found that under President Trump, the USDA has suppressed climate science and buried reports showing the dangerous impacts of climate change. (Politico)President Trump confirmed this week that the U.S. will back out of the Paris Climate Agreement, calling former President Obama’s environmental clean-up plans a “war on American energy” and promising that his pro-fossil-fuel policies will turn America into an energy superpower. (BBC)

Health
Air pollution in the U.S. has increased by more than five percent since President Trump took office, in sharp contrast to a 24 percent decrease in the seven years prior to his election. (Gizmodo)

study conducted in England found that there are hundreds more emergency room visits on days with high pollution. (The Guardian)

A recent U.S.-based study found that extreme weather events in 2012 supercharged by climate change led to nearly 1,000 more deaths, more than 20,000 additional hospitalizations and cost the U.S. healthcare system $10 billion. (NRDC)

Equity
A new paper confirms that in the U.S., prenatal exposure to extreme heat increases the risk of maternal hospitalization during pregnancy, hypertension during childbirth, and infant dehydration at birth—and that these effects are most pronounced for black women. (MarketWatch)

Action 
The Our Ocean Conference concluded in Norway this week with $64 billion in pledges toward ocean conservation made by governments, NGOs and private corporations. (ABC News)

Nearly 1,000 leading Australian engineers and organizations signed a 12-point declaration that acknowledges their connection to 65 percent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and pledges to actively work toward a low-carbon future. (The Guardian)

Tom Toro/The New Yorker

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