“We're feeling it today,” former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said about the effects of climate change, when she joined Jim Braude on Greater Boston Thursday. “We can see that the last decades have been warmer than the last 1,200 years. There’s no hiding this."
“I think the real challenge is that people are a little bit complacent about that,” added McCarthy, who served under President Barack Obama. “They see the climate changing, but the climate isn't about polar bears. I mean, I like polar bears, but it's about our kids and their future. This is serious stuff.”
McCarthy joined Braude a few days after a draft government report on climate change started gaining widespread attention. The 545-page report, put together by a panel of scientists from 13 federal agencies, paints a dire picture of the effects of climate change across the country. According to The New York Times, several scientists involved raised concerns that the Trump Administration might try to censor it.
“They [the scientists] wanted to definitely call attention to it before decisions got made, so people could see what it actually said, based on the science,” McCarthy said. “They have an administration that has denied climate science. It's taken climate science off the EPA webpage. It's looking to get rid of scientists and not invest in science because, apparently, they're not giving them the answers they need.”
This latest report undercuts many of the administration’s recent claims about climate trends, particularly because it points to humans and greenhouse gasses as the main cause of increased temperatures, rising sea levels and more incidents of extreme weather across the country.
“We’ll have to wait and see what they do,” said McCarthy, referring to whether the White House will ultimately sign off on the draft and officially release it. “But this report is pretty clear, and it is moving in the same direction as the science we knew before. It's just even stronger today.”
When President Trump first took office, McCarthy offered to help her successor, current EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, as nearly all outgoing cabinet secretaries do.
“I’m no longer holding my breath,” said McCarthy when asked if she thought Pruitt might ever reach out to her for that guidance. Still, she was optimistic about the nation’s future in clean energy investment.
“No president is going to turn around the energy market because he makes an announcement … and that's what they're essentially trying to say,” McCarthy said, referring to the president’s push to bring back the US coal industry and his decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement. “The future is clean energy. Businesses tried to tell them that."
She added, "The international community recognizes that it's an embarrassment that we're not there, but the energy train's left the station, there's no way it's going to go back.”