Climate Deniers Unhappy With Their Return on Investment From Trump
Despite having fellow deniers at the wheel at both the White House and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), reports surfaced this week that climate deniers are unhappy with rhetoric and actions coming from the Trump administration.
Prominent deniers have expressed disappointment that the administration seems to have ignored Myron Ebell's transition plan for the EPA and are outraged at reports that Scott Pruitt successfully argued against draft language in a previous version of today's executive order that took aim at the EPA's 2009 endangerment finding.
Deniers should be soothed that some influential Trump players are still paying close attention: The Washington Post reported Monday that Robert and Rebekah Mercer, prominent Trump donors who have also bankrolled denier efforts in the past, attended last week's climate-denier-heavy Heartland conference.
According to DeSmogBlog:
The Mercer family were key financial backers of Trump's successful presidential campaign, but were also key influencers in the make-up of Trump's administration.
As key investors in Breitbart, the Mercers worked with that right-wing outlet's former boss Steve Bannon, who is now Trump's chief strategist.
The Mercer Family Foundation, led by Rebekah, has given heavily to climate science denial groups like Heartland.
Their latest $100,000 donation, declared in the Mercer Family Foundation's 2015 tax form, takes their financial backing of Heartland to more than $5million since the first $1million check was written in 2008.
As DeSmog has reported, the Mercers have also donated to several of the Heartland Institute conference sponsors, including the Heritage Foundation and the Media Research Center, which has received more than $13 million from the Mercer Family Foundation.
But as is the custom for Rebekah and Robert, they declined interview requests from journalists and stayed in the background of a conference characterised by no short measure of triumphalism mixed with some frustration that the Trump administration is not pushing even harder to pull apart regulations and rules tied to action on climate change.
For a deeper dive:
Deniers in charge: New York Times
By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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