THE LIGHTBULB

In both subtle and obvious ways, President Trump has reshaped the Republican party in his image ever since taking office.

Following a major government climate report delineating the danger facing the United States from rising temperatures, it is clear the rest of the GOP is striking an increasingly Trump-like tone on the issue of climate change, according to a front-page story from the The Post's Matt Viser:

Sen.-elect Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said falsely in the lead-up to her campaign that the Earth has started to cool, and argued inaccurately that scientists have not reached a consensus on climate change.

In Florida, which has been pummeled by hurricanes, Sen.-elect Rick Scott has acknowledged rising and warmer seas could be harmful to his state but won’t attribute it to human activity.

And Sen. John Neely Kennedy, who is expected to announce Monday whether he will run for Louisiana governor, told reporters last week that while the Earth may be getting hotter, “I’ve seen many persuasive arguments that it’s just a continuation of the warming up from the Little Ice Age.” 

... The skeptics’ impact on U.S. policy has been laid bare in recent days. Trump shrugged off his administration’s 1,600-page report outlining the severe threats of climate change. Then, over the weekend, his team secured language in a joint statement issued by Group of 20 leaders over the weekend carving out a separate U.S. position on climate goals and reaffirming the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

The dismissal of climate science among elected Republicans is actually out of step with the party's voters, and certainly the electorate in general. 

Polling suggests there has been movement among the electorate. Nearly two-thirds of Republicans believe the world’s climate is changing, according to a recent Monmouth University survey, a jump from 49 percent three years ago.

Among Democrats, 92 percent say that climate change is occurring — and 82 percent say they consider it “very serious.” Among independents, 78 percent believe in it.

Even those Senate Republicans who have in the past tried to pass legislation to ramp down greenhouse gas emissions were silent in the face of Trump's outright dismissal of the National Climate Assessment, which was published in November. He told The Post he doesn't see climate change as a pressing problem: "People like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers." As Viser notes: 

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who has become a staunch Trump ally since running against him for president in 2016, has consistently attempted to push his party to address climate change. He worked in 2010 with then-Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) to try to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation, an effort that ultimately failed. Graham has endorsed a carbon tax and challenged his party to stop giving credence to the out­liers who question the science.

“Here’s a question you need to ask everybody running as a Republican: What is the environmental policy of the Republican Party?” Graham said on CNN during his 2016 presidential campaign. “When I ask that question, I get a blank stare.”

Graham did not comment on Trump’s response to the recent climate assessment, and he declined a request for an interview on the topic. His spokesman said that his views have not changed.

Sen.-elect Mitt Romney (R-Utah) also has sounded alarms within his party, saying that he believes climate change is happening and that humans are a factor. During his Senate campaign in August, he said the changing climate will make wildfires more common and more dangerous in Utah.

During an address before college students in St. Louis last year, Romney said he was “concerned about the anti-scientific attitude” from members of his party.

“I happen to believe that there is climate change, and I think humans contribute to it in a substantial way, and therefore I look with openness to all the ideas that might be able to address that,” he said. “The idea of doing nothing, in my view, is a recipe for disaster . . . it’s going to require presidential leadership.”

But over the past week, Romney has not commented on Trump’s comments or the climate assessment that came out. He declined requests for an interview.

Read more from Viser's story here:

Politics
The Republican Party, whose leaders once largely accepted the reality of climate change, is increasingly following the lead of a doubtful president.
Matt Viser
POWER PLAYS

— "It's hard for him to think straight from the bottom of a bottle": After Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) called for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s resignation in a Friday op-ed in USA Today, Zinke fired back with a hostile tweet attacking the likely next chair of the Natural Resources committee. Zinke accused the Democrat of being a drunk and wasting taxpayer money to cover it up. 

The context: "Grijalva did acknowledge during an interview with News 4 Tucson earlier this year that he had struggled with drinking in the past but said it no longer posed a problem," The Post's Lisa Rein and Juliet Eilperin write. And the $50,000 figure likely refers to a Washington Times article last year that reported Grijalva arranged a $48,395 severance payout for a female staffer who threatened to sue him for being “frequently drunk” and creating a “hostile workplace environment." At the time, Grijalva said “at no time was any allegation of sexual harassment made, and no sexual harassment occurred.”

Grijalva's response to Zinke: “The American people know who I’m here to serve, and they know in whose interests I’m acting. They don’t know the same about Secretary Zinke,” he said in his statement.

— U.S. remains holdout on Paris climate accord: In joint statement following the Group of 20 summit, 19 of the members affirmed their commitment to meet the standards of the Paris climate accord, “but the statement noted the United States reiterated its decision to withdraw from the agreement and affirmed ‘its strong commitment to economic growth,’” USA Today reports. “A senior White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the U.S. position on the Paris agreement was well-known and so the document's language should not have come as surprise.”

— Meanwhile, in Poland's coal country: The United Nations’ annual climate change conference opened over the weekend in Katowice, “the heart of Poland’s coal country,” CNN reports. It’s a major flash point at the global summit, as coal is seen as playing a major​​​​ role in the warming globe. “The country is the biggest producer of hard coal in the EU and coal power provides about 80% of Poland's electricity compared to an average of 30% among International Energy Agency member countries,” per the report. “But coal accounts for almost half of global energy-related CO2 emissions, and like other coal-dependent countries, Poland is trying to adapt to a world that needs to cut emissions to slow global warming.”

— EPA watchdog didn’t find Pruitt records leakers: In the semiannual report to lawmakers, the EPA’s inspector general says it was unable to find who leaked records of former administrator Scott Pruitt’s travels to media, Politico reports. The report indicates the agency’s internal watchdog investigated who leaked the records “without authorization.” "Employees with access to the Administrator's travel account were interviewed and all denied committing the unauthorized release. The investigation was inconclusive," the report said.

— Trump woos a new ally: Following the midterm elections, Trump has sought to make nice with Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), against whom the president campaigned. Trump will host the red-state Democrat at the White House on Monday, The Post’s Seung Min Kim reports. “One particular issue Manchin plans to press with Trump, according to spokesman Jonathan Kott, is the fate of expiring pension benefits for miners,” she reports. “Lawmakers faced a Nov. 30 deadline to put together a proposed solution for the expiring benefits that affect not only miners but also retired truck drivers and supermarket clerks.”

THERMOMETER

— The Baltic Sea offers a preview of what’s to come with global warming: The marine life in the Baltic sea is seeing declining numbers. The herring has declined to about a third of their 1990s population, cod has gotten smaller and thinner and high temperatures have killed starfish and other fragile marine life. “It all could be a sign of things to come in a warming world,” The Post’s Luisa Beck reports. “The Baltic Sea is a sort of experimental pressure cooker for marine life, a test for how species fare — and whether they can survive at all — in conditions the world’s oceans may soon experience.” One expert explains pressures have hit in the region earlier and more intensely, Beck writes, “in part due to the Baltic’s small size."

— Calls renew for laws to protect wandering wolves: A famous wild wolf in Yellowstone National Park was shot and killed by a hunter as it wandered just outside the park last weekend, the New York Times reports. “A member of the Lamar Canyon pack in the national park’s northeast region, 926F was the daughter of 832F, an alpha female that had become a celebrity, famous for her hunting prowess and for her frequent appearances along the road traveled by tourists in the park’s Lamar Valley,” per the report. The killing wasn’t unlawful, but it has reupped calls for a “buffer around the park so wolves that live within the safe harbor of Yellowstone and that have little fear of humans cannot be shot if they wander beyond the park’s invisible boundary.”

— Assessing the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season: "Hurricane season officially ended Friday, and, for a second straight year, generated costly and deadly storms that ravaged the U.S. coast," The Post’s Brian McNoldy and Jason Samenow report. "While not as active as ‘the hurricane season from hell’ the year before, the 2018 season spawned two terrible storms in Hurricanes Florence and Michael, which will be long remembered for their devastating toll in the Carolinas and the Florida Panhandle... Counting Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017, Michael in 2018, and Typhoon Yutu last month, which smashed into the Northern Marianas (a U.S. territory), five Category 4 or stronger tropical cyclones have struck U.S. soil in the last two years, which is possibly unprecedented.”

For decades, opposition to drilling has left the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge off limits. Now the Trump administration is hurriedly clearing the way for oil exploration.
The New York Times
OIL CHECK

— Trump administration takes step toward testing for oil in the Atlantic: The Trump administration has approved five requests to allow companies to conduct seismic tests for offshore oil that could harm tens of thousands of dolphins, whales and other marine animals, The Post’s Darryl Fears reports. The National Marine Fisheries Service, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, announced Friday that it issued final “incidental take” authorizations that allows the companies conducting the surveys to harm wildlife “if it’s unintentional,” Fears writes, adding multiple studies show “acoustic sound can harm and potentially kill animals.” “The decision is likely to further antagonize governors in states along the Eastern Seaboard who strongly oppose the administration’s proposal to expand federal oil and gas leases to the Atlantic,” he added.

— Eyes on Pacific Gas & Electric: California’s governor-elect Gavin Newsom has had a long history already with PG&E, the state’s largest utility. And one of the most critical issues on his agenda when he takes office will be the fate of the company that could be on the hook for the deadliest fire in the state’s history. “As mayor of San Francisco from 2004 to 2011, Newsom has already had to work closely with PG&E, whose ties to the city stretch back more than a century,” Bloomberg News reports. “He was considered friendly with the company, opposing efforts to create a municipal utility. In the past year, PG&E — and almost all its top executives — gave to his gubernatorial campaign. And yet, Newsom also pushed PG&E to close one of the city’s last fossil-fuel power plants. As mayor, he berated the company for repeated equipment failures that caused manhole fires, blackouts and in one case, a sidewalk explosion that left a pedestrian with severe burns."

The Persian Gulf state, a modest producer of oil, said it would leave the group in January after nearly six decades.
The New York Times
DAYBOOK

Today

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will host a livestreamed town hall on climate change, along with congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

Coming Up

  • Former vice president Al Gore hosts the eighth annual 24 Hours of Reality broadcast on the worldwide impact of climate change on Monday and Tuesday.
  • The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on environment holds a hearing on a discussion draft of the 21st Century Transportation Fuels Act on Wednesday.
  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee on national parks holds a legislative hearing on Wednesday.
  • The Senate Appropriations subcommittee on energy and water development holds a hearing on nuclear power on Wednesday.
  • The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee on oceans, atmosphere, fisheries, and Coast Guard holds a hearing to examine preparing for maritime transportation in a changing arctic on Thursday.
EXTRA MILEAGE

Climatologist Brian Brettschneider shares an image of an 8-inch lake that was cracked by the earthquake in Anchorage. He adds that thickness level "is strong enough to drive a car on":