By Betsy Rosenberg
The Trump administration’s recent attempt to repeal the impact and importance of President Obama’s Clean Power plan is too galling for words — particularly in light of the timing, coming in the midst of a Code Red hot summer. The President, who tells us not to believe what we see and hear, and his people who proclaim that “truth isn’t truth” and that there are “alternative facts” are now trying to sell the “Affordable Clean Energy rule” to an unsuspecting public.
Don’t be fooled, or fueled — the rollbacks proposed are neither clean nor affordable, especially considering the costs to replace essential-for-life services provided by Mother Nature. As if we could.
August 1st was World Overshoot Day, marking the moment humanity used up more of Earth’s resources than the planet can produce or replace in 2018. This means we are borrowing — or stealing- from our children, a debt that will be harder to repay than the national debt of $19.19 trillion.
How can we “Make America Great Again” when our country is experiencing the unmistakable arrival of climate change? We cannot so long as the person calling the shots, and those surrounding him, are in denial about our perilous planetary pickle. Throw in the Russia investigation, corruption scandals, cross accusations of lying from a parade of actors of questionable character, and the events playing out would be comical if consequences for the human race were not so dire.
Keeping up with the drama du jour feels like being fed a diet of unsavory junk food while Mother Earth — our only source for pure nourishment — grows sicker by the day from abuse, neglect, and complacency. Our home is burning, baking or flooding depending upon your region, while the leader of the free world tweets, igniting political firestorms at a dizzying pace. Talk about being out of control.
California’s firestorms killed 14 people and destroyed over 1,000 homes this summer and two of the largest are only now being fully extinguished. While the obligatory state of emergency was declared last month, it was issued without any expressed concern or compassion for fire victims. Seeing President Trump make an emergency designation the day before he cavalierly announced plans to weaken fuel efficiency standards was both nauseating and mind-numbing. It’s the political equivalent of throwing kerosene onto flames as our self-proclaimed “stable genius” hastens the unraveling of our once stable climate.
It’s hard to be “great again” with heat waves torching our land bringing triple digit numbers for weeks on end. In July, 41 weather records were set across the U.S. In Southern California, it rained but the precipitation was hardly refreshing. The thermometer hit 119 in Imperial, CA — making it the hottest temperature ever recorded while rain fell. Pennsylvania made headlines with the wettest July on record: a whopping 176% of average while neighboring states sweltered in 90+ heat and “freak” tornadoes touched down in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Even Death Valley, CA set a new high of 127, and in Austin, Texas, we melted a record with 110. In Florida, it’s not fires or heat but red tide that’s costing millions in damages from lost tourism and fishing. Mix in the green goo forming from too much algae due to warmer waters and you have dollars flowing from green to red. Maybe that will cause Gov. Rick Scott to rethink his reluctance to acknowledge climate change and take some action before his term expires
We are in the midst of a planetary emergency, and the Trump administration is pretending it doesn’t notice while making it worse. Thousands have become ‘climate refugees’ after being forced from their homes due to fire, floods, and tornadoes in what climatologists are warning could become “the new abnormal,”and that’s just in the United States.
Mother Earth is struggling mightily to keep up with the needs of 7.5 billion people and growing. Our collective insatiable appetite for more of everything is unsustainable. Do we care enough to wake up and smell the carbon? What will it take to get off our gases?
The latest research from Yale’s Program for Climate Communications shows 73% of registered voters believe global warming is happening and 59% believe it is caused by human activity. Large majorities of voters across the political spectrum support policies that promote clean energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. This administration’s policies are regressive, dangerous and out of step with mainstream opinion. They are as ill-founded as they are well-funded.
The Koch Brothers and others are fueling opposition to the popular effort to put a price on carbon, pouring millions into thwarting a policy that experts say is the best chance of curbing emissions to ward off the most catastrophic impacts.
The bottom line on climate and politics should be “lead or get out of the way” and that message must get out there before the November elections. In addition to collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice, perhaps investigators should look into collusion with the dirty energy industry and obstruction of the right to clean air, water, and a stable climate. Politicians and presidents may come and go, but planets? Not so much.
If you are bothered by this sorry state of political affairs or concerned about the prospect of an inhospitable planet, consider doing everything in your (clean) power to help Make America Green Again.
It will take all of us to go from a critical mess to critical mass. November 6th is our best chance to take back our country and climate from the deny-o-saurs who would take us for fossil fools and have humanity burn in a hotter hell. As we seemingly head zombie-like off a climate cliff maybe it’s time to ignite a new hashtag campaign — #Don’tBeFueled! We need to make the willful participation in climate endangerment as socially unacceptable as sexual harassment and bring a tipping point as swiftly as the #MeToo movement caught fire. At least as fast as the Arctic glaciers are melting.
Betsy Rosenberg is former CBS News Reporter and Anchor who produced and hosted the nation’s first daily environmental radio program, EcoTalk on the Air America Network. She is a featured blogger for the Huffington Post and is working on her first book.