One thing that can be said, truly, about the Administration of President Donald Trump is that it has provided the news media, Twitter and Facebook, with plenty to talk about, every day, every moment of every day. Whether it is the President’s tweets, his behavior at international gatherings, the progress of the Mueller investigation, or the latest conflict of interest that his far flung business represent for a sitting President. What is disheartening about our current state of affairs, is that serious as some of these things might be, they are distracting the public from what is unfolding on the environment front. It is difficult to understate the significant damage that the Trump administration is doing to the capacity of government to safeguard the air, water, soil and ecosystems from the rapacious actions of international corporate giants that care only to advance their bottom lines, regardless of the lasting damage done to ecosystems, the species that depend on those ecosystems and the human beings, both today and in the future who will suffer the health consequences of ever more polluted air, water and soil.
The presidential tweets and boorish behavior attract our attention, and we miss what the more consequential impacts of this administration. This has to change!
Three sources that I recommend, among many others, to keep yourself informed about our government’s lack of commitment to a healthy environment are the following…
First, Living on Earth is a public radio program that can provide news about what’s happening around the world, but particularly in the regulatory world, as it relates to the environment. Second, there is the Environmental Integrity Project, a non-partisan think tank, of mostly former EPA staff members, who bring a commitment to rigorous science to the work of tracking the changes being made to regulatory structures under the Trump Administration. Third, there is the National Geographic which is tracking the Trump Administrations action on the environment. Started in March 2017, this site is reporting on all the changes that are happening via the Trump Administration.
So, we need to be informed, and these sources can provide details on how things are being changed. What is clear is that the interests of business are trumping legitimate concerns about clean air, clean water and climate disruption. It is also clear that those who aim to benefit from rolling back environmental regulation are people who have the resources to ameliorate the impacts of water and air that is less than healthy, and to mitigate the costs of climate disruption. That the negative impacts of regulatory roll backs should disproportionately impact the most vulnerable people in our society ought to raise red flags for public debate.
Once we are informed, we ought to ask questions of the candidates running for election in the fall. We ought to call our representatives, on the local, state and national level, and ask them what they are doing to insure that our children and grandchildren have clean water to drink, fresh air to breathe, an environment that can sustain their lives well into the future. Write letters, make phone calls, get on twitter and facebook. Make use of these outlets to raise questions, to point people to educational resources, to challenge those who demonstrate their ignorance on the issues.
What President Trump and the corporate leaders who are providing the advice on which he acts, are hoping that citizens will be obsessed by the “chaff” of tweets and boorish behavior that we don’t pay attention to what is inexorably advancing in agencies like the EPA, the Justice Department and the Departments of the Interior and Energy. This is not an administration that cares very much about the environment, or better, cares about the environment only after corporate interests have had their fill of resource extraction that scars, pollutes, devastates and maims the ecosystems on which we all rely.
Don’t be distracted by the tweets and other “mirrors” of misdirection. Be informed. Be vocal. Be a citizen. Our children and grandchildren need us to fight for a future that is environmentally sustainable, healthy and beautiful. We owe them nothing less than that.
Mark Doorley, Ph.D.
President Emeritus, Board of Trustees
The Center for Environmental Transformation