The comments at a briefing from White House spokesman Sean Spicer signaled a sharp departure from years of cautious U.S. handling of China's assertive pursuit of territory claims in Asia.
This story was originally published by The Huffington Post and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention abruptly canceled a climate change summit scheduled for next month just days before President Donald Trump was sworn in, a group involved in the event told The Huffington Post. The conference, slated to take place in Atlanta from Feb. 14 to Feb. 16, was planned to explore the “translation of science to practice” in dealing with the health effects of global warming, according to a flier posted by the National Indian Health Board, a CDC partner for the event. The cancellation was first reported by E&E News, a trade publication for environment and energy executives.
“It is canceled on those dates,” an employee at the nonprofit, which advocates for tribal health care, told The Huffington Post by phone on Monday. Another worker, who requested anonymity because she wasn’t authorized to speak to the press, said the CDC informed the group “the first or second week of January” that the event would be postponed indefinitely. She said the conference had been planned “for months and months.”
The climate conference agenda may be folded into a second summit hosted by the American Public Health Association, another CDC partner on the canceled event, in November, the second employee added. An American Public Health Association spokesman did not return a call requesting comment. Other partners on the event included: Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, and the National Association of County and City Health Officials.
Climate change became a core public health issue under former President Barack Obama. Increasing global temperatures are melting polar ice caps and raising sea levels, causing more drought, severe weather, flooding and vector-borne diseases. During Obama’s eight years in office, the CDC launched initiatives related to climate change in 16 states and two cities.
Neither the CDC nor the White House responded to requests for comment on the canceled conference.
The cancellation came as little surprise to former CDC directors, who told E&E News the government health agency has a history of shying away from contentious political issues.
“Sometimes the agency is subject to external political pressure; sometimes the agency self-censors or pre-emptively stays away from certain issues,” Howard Frumkin, former director of the CDC Center for Environmental Health and a professor at environmental health at the University of Washington’s School of Public Health, told E&E News. “Climate change has been that issue historically.”
Study after study shows the planet has been rapidly warming as the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere skyrocketed from humans burning coal, oil and gas on an industrial scale. Separate analyses from two federal agencies released on Wednesday show that 2016 was the hottest year on record.
Yet, during the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly called climate change “a hoax” invented by China to make U.S. manufacturing less competitive. In November, Reince Priebus, his chief of staff, doubled down on the claim, insisting the president still believes the science behind global warming is “a bunch of bunk.”
Trump stacked his Cabinet with climate science deniers and fossil fuel industry allies, and reportedly plans to gut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget. Hours after Trump’s swearing in, the White House website on Friday removed the Obama administration’s promises to fight climate change and replaced it with a 361-word pledge to dismantle “harmful and unnecessary” environmental policies.
“I’m concerned this is an act of self-sabotage on the part of the CDC,” Ed Maibach, director of George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication, told E&E News. “The larger specter is that it will set the tone for self-silencing from the people at the top.”
photo of A high-level climate change summit was mysteriously cancelled a few days before Donald Trump took office
And will America’s exit dramatically impact the global economy?
The new press secretary criticized reporters, saying they continuously shape a narrative of what they think Trump can’t accomplish.
CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK | Inaugural weekend showed while the president has a defined visual aesthetic, he doesn’t understand music.
The new chairman of the Republican Study Committee said Monday he isn’t sweating President Donald Trump’s lack of message discipline in his first few days in office, including the outspoken mogul’s focus on media bias and Inauguration Day crowd sizes during a meeting with the CIA.
Donald Trump got off to the slowest start for any president in modern political history, with just two of his Cabinet picks confirmed so far and Democrats poised to make the process even more painful over the next weeks.
President Trump conferred Sunday with Israel’s prime minister, scheduled meetings with the leaders of Canada and Mexico and oversaw the swearing-in of his senior White House staff, telling them they will do “great things over the next eight years” for America.
Eight years after President Obama’s rise inspired his party to dream of decades of Democratic control in Washington, his party looked on Friday as President Trump put the final nail in those hopes.
The bikers stood out at the weekend’s inauguration events in Washington with their leathers and colors, a visual reminder of the often-overlooked Americans who came out of the woodwork to unexpectedly propel Donald Trump to the White House.
If by chance you were hopeful that the Trump White House would morph into honest people, the past few days provided a rude awakening.
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