Four Years Of Assaults On Environmental Protections In the United States

by Ralph Scharnau

Polling data show that roughly 70% of respondents report climate change having an impact in the area where they live. They view the problem as serious, and one requiring government action.

The current occupant of the White House, nonetheless, has engaged in a continuing effort to roll back, weaken or destroy measures designed to defend the natural environment. His budgets ignore or cut environmental spending. His animus toward Obama and Democrats who support regulations to protect the environment often comes through executive orders.

Trump has opened federal land to plunder by corporate mining and logging interests. This action despoils the vast Arctic Wildlife Refuge, a pristine home to caribou, waterfowl, polar bears, and other species. Also endangered are centuries-old trees in Alaska. And mining threatens the spectacular Boundary Waters Wilderness on the Canada-United States border.

The Trump administration formally withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement that brought together all nations to fight rising levels of atmospheric pollution. The rollback of U.S. auto emissions standards endangers public health, cuts auto jobs, causes more than 18,000 premature deaths, costs consumers $200 billion in extra gasoline costs and result in billions of tons of additional emissions of the heat trapping gases that cause global warming.

Climate change is causing extreme weather events, destructive wildfires, record hurricanes, deadly heatwaves and droughts, torrential rains and flooding. rising sea levels and melting ice caps and glaciers.

As his days in the White House dwindle, Donald Trump takes a machete to regulations designed to safeguard the environment.

Trump has assaulted our planet. He has promoted the burning of fossil fuels, which contribute to climate change by releasing greenhouse gases into the environment. He has also hacked away at environmental enforcement.

This administration’s disdain for science along with disseminating false information and conspiracy theories resulted in Scientific American, for the first time in its 175-year history, to make a presidential endorsement, Joe Biden. Biden’s plans for environment and climate policy involve reinstating and strengthening regulations that the Trump administration attacked.

Human activity is causing rapid changes in our global climate that are contributing to extreme weather conditions. These include reports of wild fires burning longer and more destructively, more frequent and intense hurricanes, and destructive flooding and droughts.

The nation is at a crucial point. The raging pandemic has shown a staggering economy racked by joblessness, systemic racism and inequality. We need to control the Covid-19 virus, get our staggering economy back on track, and put an end to systemic racial injustice and inequity.

The way forward environmentally means investing in energy efficiency, building first-rate electric vehicles, getting more clean power from the sun and wind and modernizing our electric grid and storage systems.

We need a climate response that’s grounded in sound science, puts people back to work, and expands protections and opportunities for low-income communities and people of color.

The earth is, after all, more than a globe to be surveyed or developed. It is the home of our human family. Trump continues to lead the unprecedented assault on our environment and the health of our communities.

On January 20, 2021, the Biden-Harris team will usher in a new era where environmental assaults will be replaced by the new leadership. They will make empathy, understanding and action the hallmarks of a new and hopeful era.

Ralph Scharnau
December 3, 2020

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1 Response to Four Years Of Assaults On Environmental Protections In the United States

  1. A.D. says:

    Trump has also unleashed angry belligerent science-illiteracy as a social force by making it acceptable, in his circles, to hold fake-science beliefs that are not tethered to any kind of objective evidence or reality. I’ve worked in conservation for four decades, so I’m deeply horrified by what Trump has done to the environment and to environmental laws and rules. In the long run, however, I fear that what he has done to science is even worse and will do even more damage.


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