With recent moves to reduce the number of government advisory panels, overturn the Obama administration’s clean power plan, and increase the speed with which logging permits are approved in national forests, the Trump administration plows the field of deregulation in a way libertarians and conservatives could previously only dream about.
They have gone too far.
Even with regard to mitigating the impact of the climate crisis, the fossil fuel industry indicated the world is proceeding on an unsustainable path. According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2019.
There is a growing mismatch between societal demands for action on climate change and the actual pace of progress, with energy demand and carbon emissions growing at their fastest rate for years. The world is on an unsustainable path.
In a special message to the Congress on Feb. 8, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson said,
Air pollution is no longer confined to isolated places. This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through radioactive materials and a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.
A group of scientists explained to Johnson that burning fossil fuels could cause climate change, according to Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway in their 2010 book Merchants of Doubt. “Most thought that changes were far off in the future,” they wrote.
In 2019 we see the effects of climate change in real time. We are living them.
Johnson signed hundreds of conservation and environmental measures during his tenure, developing the strongest record for the environment of any president. In so doing, he laid the legal foundations for how we protect the nation’s land, water and air.
Given time I believe Republicans will destroy the Johnson era legal foundation while their leader is lying to the American people about the quality of our air and water in a way that conflicts with our personal experience.
“We have among the cleanest and sharpest — crystal clean, you’ve heard me say, I want crystal clean — air and water anywhere on Earth,” President Trump said at a June 18 campaign rally in Florida. “Our air and water are the cleanest they’ve ever been by far.”
The science of climate change — that carbon dioxide and other gaseous emissions warm the atmosphere creating the greenhouse effect that enables life on Earth — has never been in doubt. It’s science and as Neil deGrasse Tyson recently said, “When you have an established scientific emergent truth it is true whether or not you believe in it.”
When Trump lies and repeats his lies over and over again, believers and followers will set aside what is in their best interests, what is plainly visible in objective reality, and parrot his words. It creates turbulence in society, an argument about things which there is no arguing, and delays political action that should have been taken years ago. It creates doubt.
Now we have a climate crisis.
Environmental advocates don’t agree on the path to resolving the climate crisis, in fact there are broad divisions. Some favor a carbon fee and dividend as a means of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Others want geoengineering, a deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth’s natural systems, to counteract climate change. Others want to keep fossil fuels in the ground and convert our electrical grid to sustainable, renewable electricity generation. Others favor implementing nuclear power as a way to get to zero emissions with electricity generation. There is no agreement about specific strategies and tactics to use.
What remains from the divisions is an elemental truth, we have to do something to mitigate the effects of climate change. While assertions like those of our president and his administration create doubt about the use of political action regarding climate change, doubt no more. We have to do something and soon.
If you’d like to learn more about the climate crisis I recommend David Wallace-Wells recent book The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming. It is a comprehensive look at the diversity of the climate crisis. My advice is read his book then get involved with climate action.