As an environmentalist, I often wish I had some good news to write about. The year 2017 isn’t starting out as the right year for that to happen. Our president-elect has nominated several folks who couldn’t be worse choices for the future of the planet. Everyone who will have any say about environmental issues appears to be a climate change denier.
Rick Perry, nominated as head of the energy department, suggested we dismantle the department four years ago when running for president. Scott Pruitt, who has been chosen to head the Environmental Protection Agency, boasts about leading the charge against pollution limits on toxic substances like soot and mercury that put us all at risk for increased cancer. Donald Trump’s other selections aren’t much better.
Before the last election, there were 182 climate deniers in Congress. I suspect that number has gone up. More than 60 percent of Americans are represented by someone who refuses to accept the scientific consensus on climatic disruption. Would you be surprised to hear that these members of Congress have received more than $73 million in campaign contributions from oil, gas and coal companies during their political careers?
Americans were divided on many issues in November, but no one consciously voted for dirty air and polluted water. I’m afraid that may be what we will be getting.
We Know It’s Real, Does He?
Trump says he doesn’t know whether global warming is happening or not and it appears he doesn’t care. Last month, one of his transition team members, Anthony Scaramucci, went on CNN to ridicule climate change while stating that the earth is 5,500 years old. That shows the kind of scientific evidence he is listening to.
Almost every day, we hear of some new environmental catastrophe. I happen to be a forest lover…a tree hugger, if you will. Anyone who has ever driven to Yosemite or Lake Tahoe has witnessed the thousands of dead trees caused by fire and droughts. Most people don’t realize that there is another leading cause of the forests dying off – bugs. The latest influx of bark beetles is directly attributable to our warming environment and lack of rainfall. In normal times, when a bug found its way under a pine tree’s bark, the tree would put out a surge of sap to envelop and kill the bug. With less ground moisture and hotter days, the tree can’t protect itself and, in a matter of weeks, the bug has encircled the tree and killed it.
Other distressing news stories related to global warming: Greenland has lost 9 trillion tons of ice this century; Australia’s Great Barrier Reef faces ecosystem collapse; the world’s largest herd of reindeer has lost 40 percent of its population since the year 2000; polar bears are in danger of extinction because of loss of sea ice in places like Hudson Bay; sea level rise is causing cities like Miami and Virginia Beach to flood more often, even in modest storms; 2016 proved to be the warmest year in recorded history with autumn temperatures in the Arctic soaring 36 degrees above historic averages.
Everyone is familiar with the story of Nero fiddling while Rome burned. Future historians may well relate the story of Trump tweeting while the world’s coastal areas drowned. At present, war refugees are a terrific problem. Twenty years from now refugees from low-lying coastal areas such as Bangladesh may present an equally dire situation. Glaciers are rapidly melting and the polar ice is going fast.
The Center for Media and Democracy recently published a leaked memo that outlined Trump’s disastrous energy agenda. The plan is to eliminate most federal environmental regulations, halt work on renewable energy and ignore global warming. The United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreements, lift the coal lease moratorium, relax federal fuel economy standards and push ahead for more oil drilling.
Yes…for an environmentalist…good news is hard to find. Let’s not go down without a fight.
This article first appeared in the January 18, 2017 issue of the Rossmoor News, author Bob Hanson.