Jun 25, 2019

Perdue on climate change: "It rained yesterday, it's a nice pretty day today"

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told CNN that he believes human-caused climate change is just a result of changes in weather, stating: "You know, I think it's weather patterns. ... It rained yesterday, it's a nice pretty day today. So the climate does change in short increments and in long increments."

Why it matters: Climate change — which occurs over decades and influences extreme weather patterns — has tremendous effects on the agriculture industry, which Perdue oversees in his current role. Over the past year alone, record rainfall throughout the central U.S. has saturated farmers' fields to the point of no return, leaving large portions of land useless and resulting in stunted harvests. Such extreme weather events are symptomatic of climate change, studies show.

  • A Department of Agriculture that does not acknowledge the facts on human-caused global warming would be less-equipped to help farmers adapt to their increasingly challenging circumstances.
  • It was also revealed this week that the USDA has not been publicizing its own studies on the effects of climate change, despite being conducted by the nonpartisan Agricultural Research Service.

Of note: Vice President Mike Pence is also catching flack for his refusal to answer if climate change is a direct threat to the U.S., something a Trump administration report declared last year.

  • On CNN Sunday, Pence argued that the science on climate change is debatable, despite agencies in his own administration, such as NASA, conclusively showing otherwise.

Between the lines: Perdue's description of climate change hews closely to the views of his boss. "Is there climate change? Yeah. Will it go back like this, I mean will it change back? Probably," Trump said in an interview with "Axios on HBO" last year, making an ocean wave motion with his hand.

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Scoop: New White House personnel chief tells Cabinet liaisons to target Never Trumpers

McEntee, shown with White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, walks on the South Lawn of the White House Jan. 9. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Johnny McEntee called in White House liaisons from cabinet agencies for an introductory meeting Thursday, in which he asked them to identify political appointees across the U.S. government who are believed to be anti-Trump, three sources familiar with the meeting tell Axios.

Behind the scenes: McEntee, a 29-year-old former body man to Trump who was fired in 2018 by then-Chief of Staff John Kelly but recently rehired — and promoted to head the presidential personnel office — foreshadowed sweeping personnel changes across government.

How art can help us understand AI

Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

Activists and journalists have been telling us for years that we are handing too much of our human autonomy over to machines and algorithms. Now artists have a showcase in the heart of Silicon Valley to highlight concerns around facial recognition, algorithmic bias and automation.

Why it matters: Art and technology have been partners for millennia, as Steve Jobs liked to remind us. But the opening of "Uncanny Valley: Being Human in the Age of AI" tomorrow at the de Young Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park puts art in the role of technology's questioner, challenger — and sometimes prosecutor.

The Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury fight is the rematch of the century

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The weekend's biggest sporting event is Wilder-Fury II, which despite its name is not an action movie sequel starring Jean-Claude Van Damme but, rather, a boxing match starring arguably the two best heavyweights in the world.

The backdrop: In their first meeting in December 2018, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury put on a memorable show at Staples Center, with Fury surviving a brutal right hand in the 12th round to earn a split-decision draw.

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