Friday, April 28, 2017

Earth Day Week - Damage Already Being Done by Trump Administration's Anti-Science Spirit

Earth from Space with Stars

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey Flickr Page:

The old button from the Environmental Club days which I just happened to find on Earth Day! It is a little beat up (particularly the ends of the ribbon), but no worse for the wear, I think. And it is one of the few items that I have left from those days, so it carries a lot of great memories for me! Nothing Changes Until You Do!

Here is a picture of a very similar logo, with the same message, that was on the t-shirt that I purchased from the BCC Environmental Club and, if memory serves me correctly, may even have helped to make. There were a few projects like that which club members, myself included, were regularly involved with. It has been so long, however, that I no longer recall specifically if I actually helped to make these or not, although I do believe so, since I remember seeing the process of the t-shirts being dyed. In any case, I loved this t-shirt, and have kept it ever since, even if I do not regularly wear it. Since it was part of my experience with the BCC Environmental Club days, as well as more generally having an environmental theme, it seemed appropriate to share it here. 

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed."

~Mahatma Gandhi

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."
~John F. Kennedy  

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”   

~Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

"Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures."
~Senator Gaylord Nelson, Founder of Earth Day

Let's face it: we knew we were in trouble in so many ways as soon as Trump won the election in November. There were so many ways that this guy's rise to the highest political office was viewed as a threat to what were seen as traditional American values, and many were already suggesting that the country was sliding towards a new form of fascism lite.

Almost instantly, the diagnosis for many of the most useful and treasured government programs was taken, and the forecast did not look good.

This was especially true for environmental protection, and particularly for combating climate change. It is also the one area in which his extremist views against science and advocating the further destruction and degradation of the country's precious natural resources and beauty are actually rather in keeping with traditional American policies, although predictably, Trump's approach was a hyped up version of what came before. Being such an intolerable narcissist, Trump typically has to do things on a bigger scale than everyone else, and so his approach towards the environment was not merely destructive, but on steroids, compared with his predecessors. Like with other government agencies, he seems intent on completely dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), among other things, because he feels that it is weakening American business interests and cutting into the almighty dollar, hurting profits.

For many among us here in the United States who have faith in science and know how damaging these kinds of policies, and this level of overall thinking, tends to be, we just kind of rolled our eyes with Trump's victory.

Here we go again.

And then, we have to roll up our sleeves and get to work opposing pretty much everything that he does. It's just frustrating, because polls show a majority - even a vast majority - of Americans believe in climate change. Yes, in other words, an overwhelming majority of Americans have faith that the world's scientists are not in on some giant conspiracy to come up with some crazy "theory" like global warming or climate change just to hurt one particular country's economic output, and somehow, managed to actually melt many of the world's glaciers and arctic ice in the process.

As the 1960's version of Batman might have suggested, this would truly be diabolical!

Short of believing in such a crazy notion, the disbelief in basic science - as well as the refusal to actually try to understand everything that the "theory" actually suggests and predicts - indeed does set America apart, but for all of the wrong reasons. It seems that people who do not believe in climate change here in the United States tend to consider themselves American exceptionalists, and indeed, the country is taking an exceptionally narrow and provincial approach to this issue politically, and has for many years now.

Of course, electing someone like Trump into the country's highest office was also unique to the United States. That other narcissistic and narrow-minded idiots have gotten into leadership positions in other nations is undeniable, of course. But again, Trump always has to do things bigger. He puts his own name up high on top of buildings, so that he can be seen from many miles away. He claims that he has all of the answers, that he is a bigger expert on almost every subject matter conceivable than anyone else out there, including the experts of specific fields, such as claiming that he knows more about ISIS than the generals do). This is the last man who should ever have been elected to the highest leadership position for any country, let alone given the reins of the world's leading superpower. So, what does it say about the present political dialogue and position of the United States that this man is now our president?

Most of us who have held the very frustrating position of considering ourselves environmentalists here in the United States knew that there was big reason to worry as soon as it became clear that Trump had officially been elected president. That said, it needs to be noted just how ironic it is that the United States, always feeling the need to stand out, to stand apart from everyone else, has a system whereupon someone who loses the popular vote by nearly three million votes not only gets in, but is then allowed not only to boast about the size of his big election win, but to make false accusations about election fraud, all while offering not one shred of proof to back up his ridiculous, boisterous claims. But frankly, I personally think that Trump is actually fitting for the infantile level of political discourse in the United States today. Someone like him, with his over-sized ego and his crass mannerisms, not to mention his refusal to divorce himself from his business interests, thus using the White House to personally profit with his business interests, is actually very symbolic of where we are as a country. On many levels, he is like a decadent old Roman emperor, because that is the manner in which he conducts himself. He most certainly does not act like a full-grown adult, and so we cannot expect him to give us adult solutions to problems, because he prefers rants and petty little insults instead.

Not surprisingly, this idiocy appeals to a great many Americans, who feel that he is doing exactly what he promised to do. In their view, he is sticking it to the man, to the political establishment in Washington. This, despite the fact that Trump himself has always been one of the elites, having been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and can hardly be said to truly be able to relate to the average guy.

All of this makes his environmental policies all of the more tragic, because it truly does feel like a child is in power, one intent on doing as much damage as he can while he can do it, just to stick it to the rest of us. The tragedy is that this is not fiction, but all too real.

But Trump is only now approaching his 100th day in office. How much damage to the environment could he possibly have done in such a short time span?

He and his cronies are continuing the decades long trend of "deregulation" to take away governmental protections in a wide array of fields, and his latest proposed budget would see cuts of up to 31 percent for the EPA. He already has made illegal dumping by major polluting corporations easier to get away with, and he challenged existing fuel standards in favor of more gas-guzzling vehicles to be driven on American roads. He also infamously tried to place an order of silence on anything to do with climate change by certain federal employees, and he has also made it easier for corporations to privatize water, which many feel will be a key issue in the 21st century. Not surprisingly, he signed an executive order designed to undo seemingly every piece of environmental legislation that his predecessor, President Obama, managed to install. Now, the EPA, under Scott Pruitt (Trump's pick to head the agency) has made it a point to delay clean-up compliance, allowing corporations once again to pollute as much as they want and/or need, and then not to be held responsible afterward. And, of course, let us not forget the damn oil pipelines, which Trump is all in favor of, and takes a militant, intolerant approach towards. And let us not forget that quite a few federal employees who specialized in climate change have been reassigned, which is yet one more sign of intended intimidation and/or silence of opposition. Most recently, there have been calls from administration officials to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accords. Also, he is trying to challenge the control of national parks land by the federal government, and trying to give this power, as he claims, "back to the people." It, by "the people" he is implying that corporations are people, then perhaps this would be accurate. Because it is virtually guaranteed that it would be private corporate interests - and only private corporate interests - who would get to call the shots, and who would profit majorly from opening these lands up.

Yes, all of that in well under 100 days, and that is on top of everything else that this administration is doing (and perhaps more importantly, more tellingly, undoing). You can blame them for a lot of things, but you cannot accuse them of being lazy, right?

What that means, though, is that the ball is now in our court. This is exactly what he said he would do, in his efforts to "Make America Great Again." Yes, he is dismantling the health of the country's wonderful natural resources and open space. But we need to remember that he is one man, and that the constitution specifically is aimed to prevent any one person from becoming too big, too powerful. This is a governmental system based on checks and balances, and we need now to hold faith in this system more than ever, and to make sure that his power is contained. That will be difficult, since his Republican party also control Congress and the Supreme Court, as well as the vast majority of governor's houses across the country.

Frankly, though, there is nothing more patriotic than to fight the good fight against empirical powers that be, and right now, there is no one who embodies this elitist and out of touch sense of entitlement as President Trump and his administration, which is filled with equally out of touch billionaires. Obviously, those who stand opposed to him are not in power, which makes us the underdog. Everyone keeps aspiring to get the role of underdog, but here we are with that exact opportunity, and the stakes could not be higher, because nothing is more important than the health of this planet. Trump is a virus that has infected the country, but we need to counter that with a good bit of energy and inspiration, to improve the health of the country, and of the planet, once again, and work towards righting a very big, and very glaring, wrong, which separates the United States for all of the wrong reasons.

A Running List of How Trump Is Changing the Environment  by National Geographic by Michael Greshko, April 18, 2017:

Happy Earth Day! Here Are All The Terrible Things Donald Trump Has Done So Far. by Dominique Mosbergen, April 21, 2017:

Op-Ed: Schneider: What Trump doesn't understand about the environment by Brad Schneider, April 20, 2017:

 Trump quote used above taken from the following article:

Trump orders review of national monuments, vows to ‘end these abuses and return control to the people’ By Juliet Eilperin, April 26, 2017:

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