The Environment 2020 Elections Inequality

President Trump’s four year long war on science needs to come to an end

The past four years have been irreversibly affected by efforts from the Trump administration to limit the use of science in policy making. During this administration’s tenure all of the progressive climate reforms made by its predecessors have been reversed – the United States removed itself from The Paris Agreement and the wildfires raging across the West Coast have doubled in size causing the forced evacuations of more than 90,000 residents. To make matters worse, these fires show no sign of slowing down as increased emissions from heat-trapping gases have led to warmer and drier conditions in the area. The flames which have torn across the West Coast thus far in 2020 indicate the most active fire season on record. As the climate warms, the wildfires will continue to grow larger and more frequent. Still, President Trump denies the enormity of the threat presented by climate change. Our nation cannot afford another four years of his environmental inaction.

Both presidential debates last month included questions regarding climate change, prompting the candidates to speak on their plans to rectify the situation. But here’s the thing—there is no rectifying it. Global warming has worsened with every passing year since at least 1950. The only viable option left—apart from laying in the grave which has been dug for all living beings—is to try to slow down the progress of global warming and not allow the earth to become entirely unlivable for the future generations. Perhaps this is a classic case of too little, too late.

Since taking office President Trump has invalidated the well-known fact that carbon dioxide emissions are caused by human activities, labeling it “alarmist.” Instead, he has held onto the American coal industry as well as domestic oil production for dear life, therefore accelerating fossil fuel development. On the debate stage a few Thursday’s ago, the president proudly stuck up his faux green thumb and proclaimed that his fervent solution to save the environment is to plant more trees.

On the other hand, Joe Biden’s plan is only a little less ashy. His campaign promises a strict reduction of net carbon emissions through the creation of new energy-efficient homes and electric vehicle charging stations—but there is a big discrepancy. The former vice president cites support of the promotion of clean energy while simultaneously assuring voters that the jobs associated with natural gas production will remain secure. So, he must be lying to someone. A real transition from fossil fuels toward renewable energy will inevitably result in the elimination of the oil and coal industries. At the rate in which the world is warming, this elimination might need to come sooner than we’d expect, leaving millions of working class Americans out of work. But, at least it’s a step away from immediate and total destruction of the earth.

The hottest year ever recorded was in 2016, with 2019 coming in a close second place by less than one-tenth of a degree Fahrenheit. Right now, there is an increased urgency to implement real change because doom is impending. Whoever winds up in the Oval Office next must plan for the economic pitfalls that will come along with such a change—but nonetheless ensure that the change happens, and fast. That is why it is imperative that all U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote do so today. In more ways than one, we hold the fate of the world in the palms of our hands. 


Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Science Now + Beyond

Trump’s censorship order on science puts all of us at risk

In case you haven’t heard, here are some terrifying (and a couple uplifting) things that have happened this week to American science:

  1. The CDC decided to cancel its conference on climate change and health without any real reason…
  2. Many scientific agencies, like the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and USDA (U.S. Dept of Agriculture), were put on communication freezes — meaning employees are not allowed to speak to the public about the research that the public funds about the public’s safety (The USDA’s order has now been lifted, but the other agencies remain frozen).
  3. The administration froze all grants and contracts at the EPA.
  4. The Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines are going to be built.
  5. The Badlands National Park twitter account responded to the administration’s ban on sharing news by tweeting out awesome climate science facts, because that Park is a national hero.
  6. Climate change was removed from the white house website!
  7. The investigation of Flint’s water crisis was stopped.
  8. Scientists decided to do a Scientists’ March in response to ^ all of that.
  9. Greenpeace protested the pipelines in DC.

These attacks on science are not only problematic to me as a scientist, but also as a public citizen. These agencies were formed for the purpose of protecting us: the EPA makes sure we have clean water and air, the USDA makes sure our food is healthy, the NIH deals with medical issues. It is literally their job to inform us of health and science concerns. THAT’S WHY THEY EXIST.

None of these freezes are necessarily surprising, considering the current president’s views on science (he doesn’t like it). He’s a climate change denier (because in our new reality, alternative facts reign supreme over actual truth) and the new director of the EPA doesn’t think human activity is the cause of climate change. The current president and his cronies are deeply invested in the fossil fuel industry, which is dangerous to all of us.

Even more, these freezes are censorship of information that citizens of this country have a right to know about. I mean, the Environmental Protection Agency was ordered to remove their truly amazing site on climate change. It’s informative, it’s public-friendly, and it’s an example of what we as the public have a right to. These freezes are keeping scientists from researching important, timely, relevant science that affects all of us, every day. Though it is common for very short-term freezes to take place during transitions, it isn’t normal for it to happen so quickly and certainly not to this degree. This Gag Order on Science happened basically overnight, with a quick memo. This is unprecedented and it’s deeply alarming for the future of our nation.

With a climate change denier heading our country, we are all unsafe. But we’re not all equally affected. Time and time again, we see that environmental issues most negatively impact poor communities and communities of color. The Dakota Access Pipeline, for example, was rerouted from originally going through a mostly white area because those communities complained.

After the reroute, a potential spill would dirty the water of indigenous communities (many of which in this country already have poor water quality). Studies have shown that air pollution is more prevalent in non-white, poor communities than in white affluent ones. And, though the current president claims otherwise, we know where his interests lie — with affluent whites and big businesses like the fossil fuel industry.

Our public health is at risk with the current president’s dedication to fossil fuel and his lack of commitment to reversing the effects of climate change. What exactly is at risk? Longer allergy seasons, deaths from overheating, more frequent outbreaks of disease, poor air quality, etc etc etc. Even worse is that he’s risking our public health while also making it harder to have health insurance. “Can’t breathe? Can’t afford health insurance? Good.” – not a direct quote, but maybe it is #alternativefacts .

This isn’t a debatable issue or opinion. Environmental change and the presence of pollutants in our air and water will affect you whether you support the current president or not. Climate change is real regardless of what the current president claims or his removal of important government agencies and funding for research. It harms us all and we all have the right to know how & why it’s happening. It is our duty as American citizens to stand up for what is right and demand open communication between the government and the public. Do not sit idly by as the current president plays with our future.

Our lives are at risk and our futures are in jeopardy. Call your representatives, inform others, and share this widely — don’t let science fiction become reality. RESIST.