Monday, December 26, 2016

Musings on U.S. election’s failure to highlight Climate Change

As we watch lead science agency positions being taken over by folks who are diametrically opposed to the missions of the institutions they will soon take over, we might pause and figure out how this disaster came about. Make no mistake, this is a disaster, one that even its most ardent proponents did not believe would actually happen. However Pollyannaish your take is on Trump’s ability to unravel years of environmental regulations, undo efforts to address Climate Change, and put science itself into Limbo, this year’s elections results are the worst case scenario for our chance at a sustainable future. Spending our time trying recover what we had, when we should be moving drastically forward, may well spell irreversible damage to our life support system. As climate Scientist Michael Mann has said, “Trump's Policies Are 'Game Over' for Our Climate.” (Climate Scientist Michael Mann: Trump's Policies Are 'Game Over' for Our Climate, November 13, 2016, The Real News Network) (Also: Check out this article by Mann: I’m a scientist who has gotten death threats. I fear what may happen under Trump., (December 16, 2016, The Washington Post))

Now that Trump has been deemed the winner and is packing his cabinet positions with anti-environmentalists, Americans are going to be talking past each other on Climate Change even more. Our sense of priorities, which are always undergoing public examinations in a democracy, are now more likely to veer away from science and our biological obligations to live sustainably. An historical fluke, a troubled election, means that climate denial will now seem more legitimate to many more people than before the election. It will seem normal to silence people from saying ‘Climate Change’ in public discourse because it is a divisive issue. To rant and rave against environmental regulations and champion more unsustainable ideas (that our species has tried to overcome since we’ve been a species) is likely to become the new normal. 

Science is humanity’s light in a biological system often hidden in deep interconnected complexity, billions of years in the making. And now this light is growing dim in the United States. Climate denial is not just another worldview with different priorities and values; it’s crazy.

Pulling out NASA’s ability to monitor our environment is suicidal. The US, together with the rest of the world, depends on NASA’s information. Our new political landlords who think Climate Change is a hoax might be able to scrap all previous efforts to address Climate Change, but this will not stop the physical impacts of this crisis—just seriously thwart our ability to do so. 

TRUMP’S PLAN TO DEFUND NASA’S CLIMATE RESEARCH IS ... YIKES CLIMATE CHANGE DOESN’T CARE ABOUT POLITICS Today, The Guardian reported that President-Elect Donald Trump plans to defund NASA’s Earth Science Division to cut down on what a campaign advisor referred to as “politically correct environmental monitoring”. NASA may instead focus on a Cold War-era throwback space race to explore the cosmos, leaving climate research to other agencies. But NASA’s unique position as a space agency means that it has a view of Earth that other agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are rarely afforded. Indeed, NOAA and NASA often partner on climate-monitoring projects like the recently launched GOES-R satellite or the DSCOVR climate observatory, which watches for space weather that can knock out electrical grids (among many other things). (November 23, 2016) Popular Science

This change coming at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is just chilling.

An Enemy of the E.P.A. to Head It Had Donald Trump spent an entire year scouring the country for someone to weaken clean air and clean water laws and repudiate America’s leadership role in the global battle against climate change, he could not have found a more suitable candidate than Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, whom he picked on Wednesday to run the Environmental Protection Agency. This is an aggressively bad choice, a poke in the eye to a long history of bipartisan cooperation on environmental issues, to a nation that has come to depend on the agency for healthy air and drinkable water, and to 195 countries that agreed in Paris last year to reduce their emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases in the belief that the United States would show the way. A meeting Monday between Mr. Trump and Al Gore had raised hope among some that the president-elect might reverse his campaign pledge to withdraw the United States from the Paris accord. The Pruitt appointment says otherwise. (December 7, 2016, New York Times Editorial Board)

We can conjecture all day long (or for the next four years) about how and why climate deniers were able to defeat science and reason. They have won and their ideology will cloud most media attention on Climate Change. Rather than focusing on the actions needed to address Climate Change, our media will likely use the new administration to frame environmental issues and Climate Change. At the very least, mainstream media will feel compelled to include climate denial as a fact of life in the United States instead of focusing on the problem itself.   

Time passes. 

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