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Exxon’s Rex Tillerson and the Rise of Big Oil in American Politics

Vladimir Putin and Rex Tillerson in 2012

By Pennsylvania State University

How Big Oil Bought the White House and Tried to Steal the Country” is the subtitle of a book that tells the story of a presidential election in which a candidate allowed money from big oil companies to help him win office and then rewarded them with plum appointments in his cabinet.

With President Donald Trump picking former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, one might think the book is an early exposé of the presidential election of 2016.

Instead, it’s from “The Teapot Dome Scandal,” a book that tells the story of a corruption scandal that rocked the term of President Warren G. Harding’s administration in the 1920s.

Inside the Coal Industry’s Rhetorical Playbook

Advertisement saying coal is clean and carbon neutral

By Steve Schwarze, University of Montana; Jennifer Peeples, Utah State University; Jen Schneider, Boise State University; and Pete Bsumek, James Madison University.

If citizens have heard anything about the upheaval in the U.S. coal industry, it is probably the insistence that President Obama and the EPA have waged a “war on coal.” This phrase is written into President Donald Trump’s energy platform, which promises to “end the war on coal.”

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Changed Its Mind About People Causing Climate Change

Welcome to Wisconsin sign

By Joel Stronberg

Wisconsin — the home of House Speaker Paul Ryan, Governor Scott Walker, and Senator Ron Johnson — is having second thoughts about the cause of  climate change.

Once convinced human activity had something to do with global warming, the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has now decided … maybe not.

Fake News You Can’t Use, They’ll Abuse, We All Lose. Except Putin. Putin Wins.

This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup  

Along with “alt-right” and “post-truth,” “fake news” has become the latest and greatest term to describe the bizarre media landscape we all now inhabit. Sadly, it’s a home we’re comfortable in, as we’ve been exploring it for the last five years. (That said, Politico’s Simon Van Zuylen-Wood does a good job chronicling a two-week fake news diet.)

Since we’ve called out Breitbart’s fake climate news on numerous occasions, we’re encouraged that other outlets are now debunking its propaganda, too. Case in point, both AP and Guardian covered a Breitbart story which falsely claimed that on New Year’s Eve, a mob chanting “Allahu Akbar” attacked police and “set fire” to Germany’s oldest church. It was shared nearly 17,000 times on Facebook.

A more realistic version of the story is that a stray firework lit some netting outside a scaffolding around the church on fire, and it was put out in just 12 minutes. And there was no damage to the church, which isn’t actually the oldest in Germany at all.

Will Trump Scuttle Obama's Offshore Drilling Bans?

photo by Brendan DeMelle for DeSmog

by Patrick Parenteau, Vermont Law School

President Obama gave environmental advocates a Christmas present when he announced in late December that he was banning oil and gas drilling in huge swaths of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. This action “indefinitely” protects almost 120 million acres of ecologically important and highly sensitive marine environments from the risks of oil spills and other industrial impacts.

President Obama acted boldly to conserve important ecological resources and solidify his environmental legacy. But by making creative use of an obscure provision of a 1953 law, Obama ignited a legal and political firestorm.

Under Trump, Watching U.S. Momentum on Clean Energy and Climate Slow But Not Stop

Someone at a rally holding a sign reading 'Trump digs coal'

By Joel Stronberg

I don’t doubt the nation’s transition to a clean energy economy will continue after Donald Trump is inaugurated in January. Economics, a rapidly growing number of companies owning responsibility for their carbon emissions, and ordinary people acting on behalf of future generations underpin the trend towards environmental sustainability.

How far and fast the transition will occur is in part dependent on the actions of the federal government.

For China, Climate Change Is No Hoax – It’s a Business and Political Opportunity

Chinese wind farm

By , University of Southern California  

In mid-November, while Americans were preoccupied with election returns, China sent some of its clearest signals yet that it will continue to pursue an international leadership role on issues including climate.

At an international climate change summit in Marrakech, the Chinese government reasserted its commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The government announced that its aggregate emissions will peak by 2030 or earlier, and that its emissions per dollar of economic output will decline sharply.

Can Legal Activist Scott Pruitt Undo Clean Air and Water Protections as Head of EPA?

Scott Pruitt

By University of Maryland, Baltimore

Donald Trump’s election has jolted environmentalists and voters who care about conservation. Trump has called for abolishing or greatly shrinking the Environmental Protection Agency; declared climate change a Chinese hoax; and promised to “cancel” the Paris climate agreement.

Though Trump appears to have backed off his pledge to “get rid of [EPA] in almost every form,” his choice of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the agency set off alarms in the environmental community.

Environmentalists were quick to denounce Pruitt, calling him an opponent of EPA who built his reputation by doing the bidding of fossil fuel industries. Is his appointment really like putting “an arsonist in charge of fighting fires,” as the Sierra Club argues?

These 5 Companies Are Showing Trump, a Climate Denier, the Value of Investing in the Climate

Ben and Jerry's ice cream van

By Brooke Cary

Since reaching the historic Paris climate agreement in 2015, global leaders have stressed the need to make even stronger commitments to limit the impacts of climate change. And while U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is making promises to bring back coal jobs and “unleash” fossil fuel production., U.S. businesses are forging the kind of low-carbon economy envisioned in the Paris Agreement.

Hundreds (yes, hundreds) of U.S. corporations and investors have made their own commitments to uphold the international climate accord.  

Yes, the Arctic's Freakishly Warm Winter is Due to Humans' Climate Influence

Iceberg

By Andrew King, University of Melbourne

For the Arctic, like the globe as a whole, 2016 has been exceptionally warm. For much of the year, Arctic temperatures have been much higher than normal, and sea ice concentrations have been at record low levels.

The Arctic’s seasonal cycle means that the lowest sea ice concentrations occur in September each year. But while September 2012 had less ice than September 2016, this year the ice coverage has not increased as expected as we moved into the northern winter. As a result, since late October, Arctic sea ice extent has been at record low levels for the time of year.

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