Despite dire warnings from the scientific community, including a report released just this week detailing worst-case scenarios involving climate change, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler said Monday that the press should focus less on the issue, according to Newsweek.
Wheeler, a former lobbyist for large energy firms, downplayed warnings about the impact of climate change and said the news media is guilty of poisoning public opinion on how well the EPA is doing on environmental issues.
"We need to fix this perception, and we need the help of the press," said Wheeler told an audience at the National Press Club, Newsweek reported. "The public needs to know how far we've come, as a nation, protecting the environment."
He added: "The media does a disservice to the American public, and sound policymaking, by not informing the public of the progress this nation has made.”
Wheeler pointed to a bevy of statistics showing that progress, using those numbers as justification for the Trump administration’s rollback of numerous environmental regulations — which Newsweek counted at 49 in President Donald Trump’s first term, with another 35 potentially on the way.
But the climate change experts are at odds with Wheeler’s rosy view of climate change’s impact on human society, made clear in a report released Monday by Australian think tank Breakthrough National Center for Climate Restoration.
The former senior executive of Royal Dutch Shell, Ian Dunlop, wrote that the impending damage from climate change will be catastrophic:
"Even for 2°C of warming, more than a billion people may need to be relocated and in high-end scenarios, the scale of destruction is beyond our capacity to model with a high likelihood of human civilization coming to an end," he wrote.
The report indicated that climate change will “devastate societies” by 2050, Newsweek noted — falling in line with previous warnings over the dangers of global warming.
Though Wheeler has written off a climate change report funded by the Trump administration as skewed by "political interference" during the Obama administration, Monday’s report is free from such characterization.
Still, Wheeler insisted the press is complicit in some scheme to dupe the American people over the dangers of climate change.
"Every year since 2001 Gallup has conducted polling on the same question: Do you think the quality of the environment in the country as a whole is getting better or getting worse? Every year since 2001 more people have said, 'Getting worse than getting better.’ We need to fix this perception and we need the help of the press. The public needs to know how far we've come as a nation protecting the environment."