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Trump Taps Climate Denier Pompeo to Replace Exxon CEO Tillerson as Secretary of State

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President Donald Trump announced Tuesday morning that he is nominating CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace Rex Tillerson as U.S. Secretary of State.

"We got along actually quite well, but we disagreed on things," Trump said today. The president noted that the Iran nuclear deal was a point of contention, but there were other issues where the two famously clashed, including Trump's withdrawal of the U.S. from the 2015 Paris climate agreement.


However, it appears Tillerson found out about his firing like this rest of us—via Twitter.

"The Secretary did not speak to the President this morning and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve, and still believes strongly that public service is a noble calling and not to be regretted," Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein said in a statement.

The Trump administration has gone through several high-level personnel changes during the president's first year in office. Earlier reports suggested that the former ExxonMobil CEO—who reportedly called his boss a "moron"—would soon be on his way out.

During his short tenure at State, Tillerson focused on cutting costs and eliminating staff, including the crucial position of U.S. climate envoy. Many positions at the department remain unfilled.

"Although the Trump administration is packed with billionaires and industry lobbyists, we can't say we're surprised to see Rex Tillerson's stilted and awkward tenure as Secretary of State end," said Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Watch. "America's premier oil and gas booster should have no role in U.S. diplomacy at a time when we urgently need to transition off of fossil fuels."

Critics have previously spoken against Tillerson's personal and business ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his company's storied history of climate deception—even though Exxon admits climate change is real now.

While Pompeo does not head a giant fossil fuel corporation, he has received millions in campaign funds from the billionaire Koch brothers, criticized the Paris climate deal as a "costly burden," and described the assertion that climate change is a national security threat as "ignorant, dangerous and absolutely unbelievable."

"Mike Pompeo is a climate denier and should not be leading the State Department," Hauter noted. "He's been referred to as 'the Koch Brothers' Congressman.'"

Naomi Ages, Greenpeace USA Climate Director, similarly added: "Donald Trump has now somehow picked someone even worse than Rex Tillerson to run the State Department. Greenpeace has been opposed to Tillerson as Secretary of State from the moment he was nominated, and we continue to believe that the U.S. government cannot and should not be run by fossil fuel industry flunkies. Mike Pompeo, though, is uniquely unqualified to be Secretary of State in an entirely different way than Rex Tillerson was. In addition to being a climate denier, like his predecessor, Pompeo is a Koch brothers' shill and a dangerous choice who will continue to denigrate the United States' reputation abroad and make us vulnerable to threats at home."

Hauter also denounced the former Kansas congressman for authoring legislation that preempted state GMO labeling laws, "and would likely continue the U.S. state department's role in promoting genetically modified crops around the world."

"We urge the Senate to reject his nomination," Hauter said.

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"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.

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Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.

That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.

Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.

If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.

"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."

To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.


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