Ep. 4: Meet Myron Ebell, the Climate Change Skeptic Who Has Trump's Ear

A NASA visualization of expected global temperature changes from 2014 to 2099. Photo courtesy NASA

A NASA visualization of expected global temperature changes from 2014 to 2099. Photo courtesy NASA

Much has been made of Steve Bannon’s influence on the early executive orders flooding out of the Trump White House. If you’re looking for a similar figure on environmental policy, the breadcrumbs lead to Myron Ebell. 

Ebell is already back at his job at a conservative Washington think tank. But his short stint leading the Trump administration's transition at the Environmental Protection Agency may have lasting effects on the White House’s environmental policy. For instance, Trump’s plans to shrink the Environmental Protection Agency are a dead ringer for Ebell’s own vision of the EPA. Here’s what Ebell had to say on this week’s episode of Trump on Earth.

“One of the best ways to make changes is to reduce [the EPA's] role and shrink its workforce. I hope the Trump administration is serious about the things they said during the campaign about [the EPA] being an obstacle more than a help; that in many cases, it’s not really concerned with environmental protection, it’s concerned with carrying out the agenda of the environmental pressure groups and what I call the ‘climate industrial complex.’”

Climate industrial complex. We have to admit, that’s a new vocab word for us. But the views on climate change Ebell shared with us sounded pretty familiar. Donald Trump has called climate change a hoax; Ebell himself is often described in the press as a “climate denier,” though he says that’s a smear. He prefers “climate realist,” since he doesn’t deny that greenhouse gases can cause climate change. He just doesn’t think the threat is as serious as the scientific community has made it out to be.

“I think the evidence strongly suggests that the amount of warming we’ve seen has been modest. The impacts have been modest and mixed — that is, there have been positives as well as negatives. And though global warming might cause problems sometime in the future, it certainly isn’t a problem today.”

In other words, Ebell doesn’t think we should totally re-engineer the economy over a threat he says isn’t that bad now and might not even live up to the hype. Of course, most climate scientists have a completely different view of things. Even the U.S. military now sees climate change as a potential threat to national security.

Ready for more? Check out our full interview with Myron Ebell in this week’s episode, featuring candid blow-by-blow analysis from hosts Reid Frazier and Kara Holsopple.