WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency, which under President Donald Trump removed its climate change website and is set to launch a program to “critique” near-universally accepted climate science, has some advice for protecting yourself against extreme heat this summer.
“It’s summertime!” the agency wrote in a Friday post to Twitter. “That means the days can get hot. Wear sunscreen and plan for the heat.”
The post links to an EPA web page about preparing for and staying safe in extreme heat ― a page that has remained virtually unchanged since the Obama administration.
It isn’t new or surprising that an agency tasked with safeguarding human health would warn Americans at the beginning of summer about its dangers. The irony, of course, is that the warning comes from an administration working to dismantle a number of key Obama-era policies to combat climate change, and from an agency now led by a man who does not believe carbon dioxide is primarily to blame for global warming.
As climate change drives up global temperatures, scientists warn that sweltering summer heat will grow increasingly dangerous — and deadly. Last month, a University of Hawaii study found that without global action to cut carbon emissions, 3 in 4 people on the planet could be exposed to at least 20 days of lethal heat per year by 2100. And a recent report by the National Resources Defense Council found that under a business-as-usual scenario, extreme heat-related fatalities in 45 of the nation’s largest urban centers could balloon to nearly 30,000 per year by 2090 — more than 300 deaths per summer day.
So far, there is little to suggest the Trump administration is concerned about reducing America’s carbon footprint, as it pushes for “energy dominance” with a clear favoritism for coal, oil and natural gas, and works to do away with Obama-era regulations aimed at cutting emissions. If it continues down its current path, Trump and his team could make future summer heat waves even worse.
The apparent tone-deafness of the EPA’s post was not lost on Twitter users.
“We should wear hats & sunglasses, but it’s also EPA’s job to protect us from ozone depletion & climate change,” David Doniger, director of NRDC’s Climate and Clean Air Program, wrote.
The “altEPA” Twitter account, which has over 400,000 followers and identifies as the “Unofficial ‘Resistance’ team” of the EPA, also took a swing at the agency.
Extreme heat can lead to a number of dangerous and even fatal health conditions, including heatstroke and cardiovascular and respiratory disorders. Children, the elderly and low-income populations are most at risk. U.S. cities including St. Louis, Philadelphia and Chicago have seen “large increases in death rates during heat waves,” according to the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It wasn’t long ago that the EPA acknowledged the link between human activity and heat-related deaths.