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Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) is on the Environment and Public Works Committee. The committee had hearings with Donald Trump’s new pick to become the top adviser on environmental quality in the White House. This is a person who has made her career in the oily pockets of fossil-fueled Texas politics by protecting corporate polluters, denying climate science, claiming fossil fuels ended slavery, and explaining a spoon full of carbon dioxide makes the medicine go down. Sen. Whitehouse started his questioning of Kathleen Hartnett White by asking her about how much of the excess heat captured by greenhouse gas emissions has been absorbed by the ocean. He was asking her this question because, as a very public climate denier, her position has been that scientists have not recorded the levels of heat in the atmosphere predicted by climate change proponents. This “denial” tactic has been roundly debunked as the predicted rising in ocean temperatures attests. Stumbling through her responses in a way that can only be described as “incompetently,” Kathleen Hartnett White showed the world—though probably not Republicans—how pointless she is.

Hartnett White: I don’t have numbers like that. I’ve read about it.

Whitehouse: Do you know if it’s more than 50 percent or less than 50 percent?

Hartnett White: I’m sorry, but could you ask that question one more time?

Whitehouse: Of the additional heat that has been captured in the atmosphere as a result of greenhouse gases do you know how much of it has been captured in the ocean? Is it more than 50 percent? Do you even know that.

Hartnett White: No. I don’t. I’ve read about it. no.

Whitehouse: Okay, do—

Hartnett White: —But I believe there are differing opinions about that—there’s not one right answer.

Whitehouse: Really? Do you think there is actual serious difference of opinion on whether it is below  50 percent?

Hartnett White: Um, unless I’m mistaken … yes.

None of this is surprising in that Trump’s administration has shown the kind of disdain for the planet usually only reserved for comically two-dimensional cartoon villains. But boy, does Trump and crew know how to pick truly unimpressive people!

Whitehouse: Do you think that if the ocean warms it expands? Does the law of thermal expansion apply to seawater?

Hartnett White: Again, I do not have any kind of expertise or even much layman’s study of the ocean dynamics and the climate change issues.

Whitehouse: Just enough to know that you think there is not science that establishes clearly how much heat has been taken up by the oceans. You know that, right? You said you knew that.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) who cannot retire fast enough, reportedly had this to say about White’s testimony.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., shrugged off Democrats, saying “all they want to talk about on the other side is global warming.”

That’s right. That’s all we want to talk about to the top adviser on environmental quality. You can watch the exchange below and also Sen. Whitehouse’s comments to the press after.

Later on Sen. Whitehouse spoke to the press about these “refugees from the climate denial sub-universe,” that Trump continues to nominate into important environmental positions in our government.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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