9 Things the Biden Administration Could Do Quickly on the Environment – By Lisa Friedman – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. campaigned on the most ambitious climate platform of any presidential candidate in history, promising to spend $2 trillion over four years to draw down planet-warming fossil fuel emissions and convert much of the nation to clean energy.

The possibility that the Senate could remain under the control of Republicans, who have generally opposed climate legislation, puts a damper on some of his biggest-ticket plans. But with or without Democratic control of the Senate, the first 100 days of the Biden administration are likely to see a flurry of executive actions addressing climate change, as well as a major push to insert clean energy provisions into legislation that could pass with a bipartisan coalition.

Here are nine things Mr. Biden may do early on to put the United States back on a path to addressing climate change.

A Split Decision for Democrats – By Carl Hulse – The New York Times

Despite a record-setting fund-raising bonanza and a flurry of indications that voters were deeply dissatisfied with Mr. Trump, disappointed Democrats came up well short of their aspirations to seize clear control of the Senate and pad their numbers in the House. Instead, they watched gloomily on Wednesday as their path to the Senate majority narrowed while they absorbed unexpected losses in the House.

The split political decision underscored the reality that even as they turned away from the chaos of a divisive Republican president, voters wanted to hedge against Democratic hegemony in the nation’s capital and in statehouses around the country. Far from the so-called blue wave that many Democrats had imagined, the election was shaping up to be a series of conflicting squalls pointing in different directions that, above all, appeared to promise continuing division at all levels of government.

In some ways, the configuration could be tailor-made for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., should he ultimately prevail, which appeared increasingly likely on Wednesday. And it mirrored the decision that Democrats made this year in choosing Mr. Biden as their standard-bearer, elevating him over far more progressive contenders.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NY Times Comment:
Thank you Carl Hulse, for helping me understand this partial but major disaster. Of course, it could have been worse. As an environmentalist, and a climate change hawk, I’m terrified. I do agree with some of the comments castigating the Dems for their extremism, in the face of a fairly conservative electorate. Defund the police was nuts, and appearing soft on illegal immigration, separated the Dems from the majority of the country.
Most seriously, the GOP senate enabled Trump in his multiple transgressions and even treasons, like betraying our allies the Kurds and the northern Syrian militias.
I am left with the lesson this year from a teacher of accents, who offered a few words, to practice, to acquire a real Irish accent. Weave, Beef, Hoooked Just say these more or less together.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

As Election Nears, Trump Makes a Final Push Against Climate Science – By Christopher Flavelle and Lisa Friedman – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has recently removed the chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the nation’s premier scientific agency, installed new political staff who have questioned accepted facts about climate change and imposed stricter controls on communications at the agency.

The moves threaten to stifle a major source of objective United States government information about climate change that underpins federal rules on greenhouse gas emissions and offer an indication of the direction the agency will take if President Trump wins re-election.

An early sign of the shift came last month, when Erik Noble, a former White House policy adviser who had just been appointed NOAA’s chief of staff, removed Craig McLean, the agency’s acting chief scientist.

Mr. McLean had sent some of the new political appointees a message that asked them to acknowledge the agency’s scientific integrity policy, which prohibits manipulating research or presenting ideologically driven findings.”

Opinion | Trump Tells Coronavirus, ‘I Surrender’ – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

“As we head into the final stretch of the election, Covid-19 is on a roll.

Coronavirus cases keep hitting records — among other things, five aides to Vice President Mike Pence have tested positive. Hospitalizations, which lag behind cases, are soaring. And deaths, which lag even further behind, are starting to rise, too. Put it this way: Just between now and Election Day, we’re likely to lose almost twice as many Americans to Covid-19 as died on 9/11.

So how is the Trump administration responding? Actually doing anything about the pandemic is apparently off the table. What we’re getting instead is a multilevel public relations strategy: We’re doing a great job. Anyway, there’s nothing anyone can do. And besides, doctors are faking the numbers so they can make more money.

These are, of course, inconsistent stories, and the smearing of health care workers who put their lives on the line to save others is just vile. But none of this should surprise us.

This is, after all, Donald Trump. Also, we’ve seen this combination of denial, declared helplessness and conspiracy theorizing before: Trump and company are following the same strategy on Covid-19 that the right has long followed on climate change.

By now, almost everyone is familiar with the way Trump keeps moving the goal posts to claim success no matter how bad things get. Back in February he predicted zero cases “within a couple of days.” In the spring he said that it would go away when the weather got warmer. Lately he’s been claiming triumph because the coronavirus hasn’t killed 2.2 million people.

The administration was slower to admit that it was abjectly surrendering to Covid-19. But back in August Dr. Scott Atlas, a believer in “herd immunity” — basically letting the virus rip through most of the community — joined the White House coronavirus task force.

Atlas is a radiologist with no known expertise in infectious disease, and actual epidemiologists like Dr. Anthony Fauci are horrified by his ideas. But Atlas, not Fauci, appears to be calling the shots these days.

And on Sunday Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, made it more or less official, saying that “we are not going to control the pandemic” because it is a “contagious virus.”

Image: Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

This came after a rally in which Trump — who considers himself a victim because the media keep talking about “Covid, Covid, Covid” — claimed that coronavirus fatalities are being exaggerated because “doctors get more money and hospitals get more money” if they say that Covid-19 was the cause of death.

All of these excuses sound very familiar to anyone who has followed the climate debate over the years. According to the right, climate change isn’t happening; anyway, there’s nothing we can do about it without destroying the economy; and it’s all a hoax concocted by a global conspiracy of scientists, who are just in it for the money.

That last bit is, of course, projection. No, the overwhelming scientific consensus that we’re experiencing man-made global warming isn’t being driven by financial incentives — but those who reject that consensus are.

At this point, climate denial is largely sustained by a network of right-wing think tanks supported by fossil-fuel interests; that is, the “experts” claiming either that global warming isn’t happening or that nothing can be done about it are basically professional deniers, who make a living as “merchants of doubt.”

And Covid denial, it turns out, isn’t just a similar phenomenon; it’s being conducted by pretty much the same people.

Atlas and other administration officials have reportedly been strongly influenced by the Great Barrington Declaration, a manifesto on behalf of herd immunity that grew out of a meeting at the American Institute for Economic Research. What do we know about this institute?

Well, it is, not surprisingly, linked to the Charles Koch Institute. And a perusal of its website reveals that until recently it devoted much of its time to climate denial, putting out articles with titles like “Brazilians Should Keep Slashing Their Rainforest.”

More recently, however, the institute’s focus has shifted to Covid denial. Last month, for example, it published an article lauding Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, whose refusal to take action against the coronavirus has turned her state into what the article called “a fortress of liberty and hope protected from the grasps of overbearing politicians.”

Since then, of course, South Dakota has experienced an explosion of infections and soaring hospitalizations, and is now seeing a rapid rise in Covid-19 deaths.

Was there ever a chance that Trump would take the pandemic seriously? Probably not. After all, he has always been a die-hard, conspiracy-theorizing denier of climate change, and his coronavirus response has come straight out of the climate-denier playbook.

In any case, we can predict with high accuracy what he will do if the polls are wrong, and he wins a second term. He will do nothing at all to fight the pandemic; he will, however, try to suppress the truth about what’s happening. And many, many more Americans will die.”

By Calling Climate Change ‘Controversial,’ Barrett Created Controversy – By John Schwartz and Hiroko Tabuchi – The New York Times

David Lindsay: I’m afraid that the apple doesn’t usually fall far from the tree.

“During two grueling days of questioning over her Supreme Court confirmation, Judge Amy Coney Barrett did her best to avoid controversy. But her efforts to play it safe on the subject of climate change have created perhaps the most tangible backlash of her hearings.

In her responses, the nominee to take the place of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an environmental stalwart, used language that alarmed some environmentalists and suggested rough going for initiatives to fight climate change, if as expected she wins confirmation and cements a 6-3 conservative majority on the court.

On Thursday, the last of four days of confirmation hearings, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee set a committee vote on Judge Barrett’s nomination for Oct. 22 hoping to speed a final vote to as soon as Oct. 26 — one week and a day before Election Day.

As she did on judicial matters, such as her views on Roe v. Wade, Judge Barrett declined to state her thoughts on climate change in exchange after exchange this week, equating her evasions to the well-established precedent of refusing to comment on issues that could come before the court.

But with Senator Kamala Harris of California, the Democratic candidate for vice president, Judge Barrett, the daughter of an oil executive, went further. She described the settled science of climate change as still in dispute, compared to Ms. Harris’s other examples, including whether smoking causes cancer and the coronavirus is infectious.

“Do you believe that climate change is happening and threatening the air we breathe and the water that we drink?” Ms. Harris asked.

Judge Barrett responded, “You asked me uncontroversial questions, like Covid-19 being infectious or if smoking causes cancer” to solicit “an opinion from me on a very contentious matter of public debate,” climate change.

“I will not do that,” Judge Barrett concluded. “I will not express a view on a matter of public policy, especially one that is politically controversial.”

Republicans showed no sign of discomfort with that answer. But her performance raised alarm bells around the world. Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish climate activist, took to Twitter to quip, “To be fair, I don’t have any ‘views on climate change’ either. Just like I don’t have any ‘views’ on gravity, the fact that the earth is round, photosynthesis nor evolution.”

“. . . .  A Justice Barrett could have real effects on efforts to address climate change.

The prior jurisprudence is clear. In the 2007 case Massachusetts v. the Environmental Protection Agency, the Supreme Court declared that greenhouse gases are covered under the Clean Air Act and that the agency can act to counter climate change. In 2009, the E.P.A. issued what is known as the “endangerment finding,” which said that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. That finding was challenged in the courts and survived: the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the finding in 2012, and the Supreme Court declined to review the lower court’s decision, allowing it to stand.

If President Trump were to win a second term, Professor Revesz said, the government could withdraw the endangerment finding, and the inevitable court challenge could bring the fundamental question of climate change back before the Supreme Court.

There is also the question of how Judge Barrett would approach regulatory matters. Professor Carlson suggested that Judge Barrett would seek to interpret the E.P.A.’s powers narrowly. Other conservative members of the Supreme Court have indicated a willingness to revive a legal doctrine that holds that Congress should not give regulatory agencies much leeway in executing policies. With six votes, the conservative bloc could tie the hands of regulators.

“The future of the administrative state, in many respects, is on the line — and her refusal to answer basic questions about things like climate science makes me worry that we could see a whole dismantling of agencies that we have come to rely on for environmental protection,” she said.

Limits on administrative power would leave Congress with the task of being much more specific in drafting environmental legislation, Professor Gerrard said. “A very specific, well crafted law by Congress would be very hard for the courts to get around,” he said. Yet narrowly crafted laws don’t always adapt well to changing circumstances, as the years pass.

Leaving statutes vague, however, has been a way for Congress to finesse fights. A demand for specificity would make passage of environmental legislation even harder than it is now.

Judge Barrett’s family has strong ties to the fossil fuel industry.

Her father, Michael E. Coney, worked as a prominent attorney at Shell Oil in New Orleans and Houston for 29 years, from 1978 to 2007, focusing on deep sea exploration and drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf. As part of his work, he represented the oil and gas giant before the federal government, frequently dealing with the Department of Interior on royalties, regulations and compliance issues.

Mr. Coney was also an active member of the powerful oil and gas trade organization, the American Petroleum Institute, twice serving as chairman of its Subcommittee on Exploration and Production Law. On top of being the industry’s main lobby group, A.P.I. has played a critical role in casting doubt on climate science and opposing policies to address climate change.”

Opinion |  – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

“After 2016, nobody will or should take anything for granted, but at this point Joe Biden is strongly favored to beat Donald Trump, quite possibly by a landslide. However, Trump’s party may still be in a position to inflict enormous damage on America and the world over the next few years.

For one thing, while Democrats are also favored to take control of the Senate, the odds aren’t nearly as high as they are in the presidential race. Why? Because the Senate, which gives the average voter in Wyoming 70 times as much weight as the average voter in California, is a deeply unrepresentative body.

And it looks as if a president who is probably about to become a lame duck — and who lost the popular vote even in 2016 — together with a Senate that represents a minority of the American people are about to install a right-wing supermajority on the Supreme Court.

If you want a preview of how badly this can go, look at what’s happening in Wisconsin.

In 2018, Wisconsin voters elected a Democratic governor. A strong majority — 53 percent — also voted for Democratic legislators. But given the way the state’s districts are drawn, Democrats ended up with only 36 out of 99 seats in the State Assembly. And Wisconsin’s elected judiciary is also dominated by Republicans.”

“. . .  But I’d argue that the biggest threat this court will pose is to environmental policy.

Put it this way: Charles Koch is reportedly investing millions trying to get Barrett confirmed. That’s not because he’s passionately opposed to abortion rights, or, probably, even because he wants the A.C.A. overturned. What he’s looking for, surely, is a court that will block government regulation of business — and above all a court that will hamstring a Biden administration’s efforts to take action against climate change.

Sure enough, during her hearing, Barrett, asked about climate change, uttered the dreaded words, “I’m certainly not a scientist.” At this point everyone knows what that means. It’s not an expression of humility; it’s a signal that the speaker intends to ignore the science and to oppose any attempt to avert the biggest threat facing humanity.

It’s hard to overstate just how dangerous it will be if the power of the Supreme Court ends up being used to undermine environmental protection. Biden has made it clear that climate action will be at the core of his economic agenda. And this action would come not a moment too soon. We’re already starting to see the effects of global warming in the form of fires and floods, and if we waste the next few years it will probably be too late to avoid catastrophe.

In other words, if a G.O.P.-stacked Supreme Court blocks effective climate policy, it won’t just be an outrage, it will be a disaster, for America and the world. So that can’t be allowed to happen. Never mind all the talk about norms (which only seem to apply to Democrats, anyway.) What’s at stake here could be the future of civilization.”

A Guide to Climate Change in the 2020 Presidential Election – By Brad Plumer – The New York Times

Oct. 14, 2020

“The presidential election is just weeks away, and climate change has broken through as a defining issue for Americans this year, even amid a historic pandemic and deep economic uncertainty weighing upon the nation.

Two-thirds of Americans say the government isn’t doing enough to reduce the effects of global warming, according to a June survey from the Pew Research Center, and the two presidential candidates’ approaches couldn’t be further apart. President Trump has often dismissed global warming as a hoax; his rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., calls climate change an “emergency” that requires rapidly overhauling the nation’s energy system.

Their differences raise profound questions about the government’s role in shaping the United States economy and America’s place on the world stage. Here’s a guide to major climate questions in the election.

Opinion | Joe Biden for President: The New York Times Editorial Board Endorsement – The New York Times

By 

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.

“Joe Biden has vowed to be a president for all Americans, even those who do not support him. In previous elections, such a promise might have sounded trite or treacly. Today, the idea that the president should have the entire nation’s interests at heart feels almost revolutionary.

Mr. Biden has also vowed to “restore the soul of America.” It is a painful reminder that the country is weaker, angrier, less hopeful and more divided than it was four years ago. With this promise, Mr. Biden is assuring the public that he recognizes the magnitude of what the next president is being called upon to do. Thankfully, he is well suited to the challenge — perhaps particularly so.

[Kathleen Kingsbury, acting editorial page editor, wrote about the choice to endorse Joe Biden for president in a special edition of our Opinion Today newsletter. You can read it here.]

In the midst of unrelenting chaos, Mr. Biden is offering an anxious, exhausted nation something beyond policy or ideology. His campaign is rooted in steadiness, experience, compassion and decency.

A President Biden would embrace the rule of law and restore public confidence in democratic institutions. He would return a respect for science and expertise to the government. He would stock his administration with competent, qualified, principled individuals. He would stand with America’s allies and against adversaries that seek to undermine our democracy. He would work to address systemic injustices. He would not court foreign autocrats or give comfort to white supremacists. His focus would be on healing divisions and rallying the nation around shared values. He would understand that his first duty, always, is to the American people.

But Mr. Biden is more than simply a steady hand on the wheel. His message of unity and pragmatism resonated with Democratic voters, who turned out in large numbers to elevate him above a sprawling primary field.

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His team has put together a bold agenda aimed at tackling some of America’s most pressing problems. The former vice president is committed to working toward universal health care through measures such as adding a public option to the Affordable Care Act — which he played a significant role in passing — lowering the age for Medicare eligibility to 60 years old and cutting the cost of prescription drugs. He recognizes the fateful threat of climate change and has put forward an ambitious, $2 trillion plan to slash carbon emissions, invest in a green economy and combat environmental racism.

Mr. Biden will not be morphing into an ideological maximalist any time soon, but he has acknowledged that the current trifecta of crises — a lethal pandemic, an economic meltdown and racial unrest — calls for an expanded governing vision. His campaign has been reaching out to a wide range of thinkers, including former rivals, to help craft more dynamic solutions. In midsummer, he rolled out an economic recovery plan, dubbed “Build Back Better,” with proposals to bolster American manufacturing, spur innovation, build a “clean-energy economy,” advance racial equity and support caregivers and educators. His plan for fighting the coronavirus includes the creation of a public health jobs corps. Progressives who want even more from him should not be afraid to push. Experience is not the same as stagnation.

Learn more about the journalists who make up The Times’s Editorial Board.

Mr. Biden has a long and distinguished record of accomplishment, including, as a senator, sponsoring the landmark Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and, as vice president, overseeing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, passed in response to the Great Recession. In a 2012 interview on “Meet the Press,” his remarks in support of gay marriage — which blindsided the Obama White House and caused a public kerfuffle — proved a watershed moment for the cause of equality. In 1996, Mr. Biden had voted as a senator in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriages, making his evolution on the issue particularly resonant.

He has an unusually rich grasp of and experience in foreign policy, which, as traditionally understood, has not played a central role in the presidential race — though the pandemic, the climate crisis, a more assertive China and disinformation wars against the American public argue strongly that it should. The next president will face the task of repairing the enormous damage inflicted on America’s global reputation.

Mr. Biden has the necessary chops, having spent much of his career focused on global concerns. He not only took on thorny diplomatic missions as vice president, he also served more than three decades on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Aware that an “America First” approach in reality amounts to “America alone,” he would work to revive and refurbish damaged alliances. He has the respect and trust of America’s allies and would not be played for a fool by its adversaries.

Certainly, not all of Mr. Biden’s foreign policy decisions through the decades look sage in hindsight, but he has shown foresight in key moments. He fought a rear-guard action in the Obama White House to limit the futile surge in Afghanistan. He was against the 2011 intervention in Libya and skeptical of committing American troops to Syria. He opposed renewing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 2007 and 2008 because it gave the government too much power to spy on Americans. He’s supported closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay. Little wonder that he has the backing of a who’s who of the foreign policy community and national security officials from both parties.

Mr. Biden is not an ideological purist or a bomb-thrower. Some will see this as a shortcoming or hopelessly naïve. Certainly, it’s unlikely that if Republicans retain control of the Senate, their leader, Mitch McConnell, will abandon his policy of fanatical obstructionism of any Democratic president.

That said, as the emissary often dispatched by President Barack Obama to deal with Republican lawmakers during tough legislative fights, Mr. Biden has intimate experience with the partisan gridlock crippling Congress. He knows how the levers of power work on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, and he has longstanding relationships with members from both parties. More than any of this cycle’s other presidential hopefuls, he offered weary voters a chance to see whether even a modicum of bipartisanship is possible.

He is also offering a glimpse of the Democratic Party’s future in his choice of running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California. Ms. Harris would become a number of firsts — a woman, a Black person and an Asian-American — as vice president, adding history-making excitement to the ticket. A former prosecutor, she is tough, smart and can dismantle a faulty argument or political opponent. She is progressive, but not radical. In her own presidential campaign, she presented herself as a unifying leader with center-left policy proposals in a mold similar to Mr. Biden, albeit a generation younger. Mr. Biden is aware that he no longer qualifies as a fresh face and has said that he considers himself a bridge to the party’s next generation of leaders. Ms. Harris is a promising step in that direction.

If he wins election, Mr. Biden will need to take his governing agenda to the people — all of the people, not just his party’s loudest or most online voices. This will require persuading Americans that he understands their concerns and can translate that understanding into sound policy.

Mr. Biden has a rare gift for forging such connections. In his younger days, he, like so many senators, could be in love with the sound of his own voice. Time and loss have softened his edges. He speaks the language of suffering and compassion with a raw intimacy. People respond to that, across lines of race and class — ever more so in this time of uncertainty. The father of the police-shooting victim Jacob Blake described his phone conversation with Mr. Biden as full of “love, admiration, caring,” in one of many recent examples of the former vice president’s hard-earned empathy.

Mr. Biden knows that there are no easy answers. He has the experience, temperament and character to guide the nation through this valley into a brighter, more hopeful future. He has our endorsement for the presidency.

When they go to the polls this year, voters aren’t just choosing a leader. They’re deciding what America will be. They’re deciding whether they favor the rule of law, how the government will help them weather the greatest economic calamity in generations, whether they want government to enable everyone to have access to health care, whether they consider global warming a serious threat, whether they believe that racism should be treated as a public policy problem.

Mr. Biden isn’t a perfect candidate and he wouldn’t be a perfect president. But politics is not about perfection. It is about the art of the possible and about encouraging America to embrace its better angels.”

In Visiting a Charred California, Trump Confronts a Scientific Reality He Denies – By Michael D. Shear and Coral Davenport – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — When President Trump flies to California on Monday to assess the state’s raging forest fires, he will come face to face with the grim consequences of a reality he has stubbornly refused to accept: the devastating effects of a warming planet.

To the global scientific community, the acres of scorched earth and ash-filled skies across the American West are the tragic, but predictable, result of accelerating climate change. Nearly two years ago, federal government scientists concluded that greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels could triple the frequency of severe fires across the Western states.

But the president has used his time in the nation’s highest office to aggressively promote the burning of fossil fuels, chiefly by rolling back or weakening every major federal policy intended to combat dangerous emissions. At the same time, Mr. Trump and his senior environmental officials have regularly mocked, denied or minimized the established science of human-caused climate change.

Now, as he battles for a second term in the White House, Mr. Trump has doubled down on his anti-climate agenda as a way of appealing to his core supporters. At a rally in Pennsylvania last month, he blamed California’s failure to “clean your floors” of leaves, threatening to “make them pay for it because they don’t listen to us.

The lethal fires spreading across the West — like the coronavirus that has ravaged the country for months — are a warning for the president that many voters may hold him and his administration accountable for brushing aside scientific experts and failing to effectively mobilize the government to minimize natural disasters that have claimed lives, damaged property and threatened economic prosperity.

“Talk to a firefighter if you think that climate change isn’t real,” Mayor Eric M. Garcetti of Los Angeles, a supporter of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Mr. Trump’s Democratic opponent, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “It seems like this administration are the last vestiges of the Flat Earth Society of this generation.”

Mr. Trump’s climate record is far more aggressive than the laissez-faire environmental policy promoted for years by business interests in his party. Indeed, as he has sought to zealously roll back regulations, even some of the world’s largest oil companies and automakers have opposed the moves, saying that they will lead to years of legal uncertainty that could actually harm their bottom lines.

“As an historic figure, he is one of the most culpable men in America contributing to the suffering and death that is now occurring through climate-related tragedy,” Jerry Brown, the former California governor who made climate change his signature issue, said in an interview on Sunday, though he was careful not to blame Mr. Trump specifically for the fires ravaging his state.

The president’s record is also more consequential, experts say, because the amount of planet-warming carbon dioxide trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere has now passed the point at which scientists say it would be possible to avert many of the worst effects of global warming — even if tough emissions policies are later enacted.

Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign is hoping to use Mr. Trump’s climate positions as a cudgel against him with independents and moderate Republicans. Christine Todd Whitman, the Republican former governor of New Jersey, is backing Mr. Biden’s candidacy in large part because of the president’s environmental policies.

“It’s mind-boggling, the ignorance that he displays on this subject,” Ms. Whitman said in an interview on Sunday. “He doesn’t understand climate change. He doesn’t particularly believe in science. It’s all about him and his re-election.”

“He doesn’t govern for all Americans,” she said.

On Saturday, Mr. Trump abruptly added the trip to McClellan Park, Calif., near Sacramento, to be briefed on the fires to an already scheduled West Coast fund-raising and campaign swing. He had come under intense criticism for weeks of silence on the increasingly deadly blazes that are consuming parts of California, Oregon and Washington — three Democratic-led states that he has feuded with for years.

. . .   But the president has often treated climate change and the environment as a deeply partisan issue, not unlike his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the recent racial upheaval in some cities, in which he has frequently lashed out at Democratic officials while praising the actions of Republicans.

Trump ended a ban on offshore oil drilling supported by the Republican governor in a key election-year state, even though he has refused to do the same for Democratic-led states in the Northeast.

At the event in front of supporters in Jupiter, Fla., Mr. Trump declared himself “a great environmentalist.”

In fact, Mr. Trump has repeatedly mocked the science of climate change since long before he ran for president. In 2012, he tweeted: “In the 1920’s people were worried about global cooling — it never happened. Now it’s global warming. Give me a break!” He also tweeted that the concept of climate change “was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

The president has continued to take a dim view of climate science throughout his tenure, even as the government he oversees has reinforced the accepted threats to the future of the planet.

. . .   In 2017 and 2018, the federal government published a sweeping, two-volume scientific report, the National Climate Assessment, that represents the most authoritative and comprehensive conclusions to date about the causes and effects of climate change in the United States.

The report is clear about the causes — burning fossil fuels — and the effects: It found that the increased drought, flooding, storms and worsening wildfires caused by the warming planet could shrink the American economy by up to 10 percent by the end of the century.

Two days before the White House published the 2018 volume of that report, Mr. Trump mockingly tweeted, “Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS — Whatever happened to Global Warming?”

In an interview a month before, he said of global warming, “I don’t know that it’s man-made,” and suggested that even as the planet warmed, “it will change back again” — an idea scientists have long debunked.

Opinion | The Future of American Liberalism – By David Brooks – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

“The United States just endured its worst economic quarter in recorded history. If this trend had continued for an entire year, American economic output would have been down by about a third.

So I’m hoping Joe Biden and his team are reading up on Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. The New Dealers succeeded in a moment like this. Their experience offers some powerful lessons for Biden as he campaigns and if he wins:

Economic and health calamities are experienced by most people as if they were natural disasters and complete societal breakdowns. People feel intense waves of fear about the future. They want a leader, like F.D.R., who demonstrates optimistic fearlessness.

They want one who, once in office, produces an intense burst of activity that is both new but also offers people security and safety. During the New Deal, Social Security gave seniors secure retirements. The Works Progress Administration gave 8.5 million Americans secure jobs.

Biden’s “Build Back Better” slogan is a perfect encapsulation of this mood of simultaneously longing for the safety of the past while moving to a brighter future.