Freshman year report card

Trump’s First Year

Slightly less than a year ago, I used this blog to provide an open letter to Donald Trump regarding the environment (http://blogs.nicholas.duke.edu/citizenscientist/some-thoughts-for-the-new-president/).  My points were simple:

  1. Use science to base environmental decisions;
  2. Support family planning worldwide;
  3. Transition our economy to lessen our impact on environment;
  4. Preserve natural lands; and
  5. Regulate emissions of toxins to the environment.

Sadly, as we begin 2018, it seems that my blog simply clarified the targets for the new administration.

  • Just a few days ago, the White House issued orders to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) prohibiting the use of the phrase “science-based” in written statements. (Washington Post, 15 December)
  • With the help of Congress, the President is supporting efforts to curtail the inclusion of birth control in employee health plans. (New York Times, 6 October). Viagra for men would still be covered. Paul Ryan even recommends that women have more babies to stimulate the economy (Washington Post, 15 December)
  • In a public statement on 1 June, the President announced that our nation would step out of the Paris Climate Accord, focusing its attention on the unfettered provision of fossil fuels for the economy. This, despite an estimate by economists that climate change is likely to result in a loss of 1.2% of gross domestic product per 1oC increase in global temperature, roughly $200 billion in losses annually. (Hsiang et al. 2017)
  • The President proposes downsizing the area of two large national monuments in Utah (The Economist, 9 December), when all ecological science indicates that large, unfragmented areas are best for species preservation (http://blogs.nicholas.duke.edu/citizenscientist/wildlife-refuges-and-corridors/). The areas are also sacred to certain Native American groups.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency is dramatically reducing the enforcement of regulations to protect human health and the environment. (New York Times, 10 December). The EPA has hired an independent contractor to identify and root out employees who are not Trump supporters. (New York Times, 16 December). It is the Nacht der langen Messer.

At one time, factual, cautious, and frugal were adjectives associated with conservatives.  No more.

We are in deep trouble.

 

References

Bevan, A., S. Colledge, D. Fuller, R. Fyfe, S. Shennan and C. Stevens. 2017. Holocene fluctuations in human population demonstrate repeated links to food production and climate. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114: doi: 10.1073/pnas.1709190114

Bliese, J.R.E. 1996. The conservative case for the environment. Intercollegiate Review 32: 28–36

Hsiang, S. and  11 others. 2017.  Estimating economic damage from climate change in the United States.  Science 356: 1362-1368.

Kalof, L., T. Dietz, G. Guagnano, and P.C. Stern. 2002. Race, gender and environmentalism:The atypical values and beliefs of white men. Race, Gender and Class 8: 1–19

Mildenberger, M., J.R. Marlon, P.D. Howe, and A. Leiserowitz. 2017.  The spatial distribution of Republican and Democratic climate opinions at state and local scales.  Climatic Change 145: 539-548.

3 thoughts on “Freshman year report card

  1. I have enjoyed reading your blogs and agree with many of your observations. Unfortunately, the current administration probably does not a) read your blogs or b) if they do read them, cares for what an academic thinks (see Lee Faber’s comments on your earlier blog “Some Thoughts for the New President”). It’s our collective misfortune that it appears that decisions are being made without a clear appreciation of the facts. Nevertheless, please keep up your truly noble efforts. Surrendering to non-fact based policy decision making ultimately harms our country. And who knows, your blogs may eventually get through the Trump “wall” on facts…

  2. Bill,
    Yes we are in deep trouble. And we are only one year into this. Trump, led by his colleagues for three more years, will continue to erode those incremental gains acquired by past administrations and move our country and presence in the world back to preindustrial times when human impact had far less of an impact. It’s no longer a radical statement to say that lives of future generations will be diminished — and endangered.
    What to do? We need to counter Trump, curb him in every way possible. As Democratic chair of my precinct I’m compiling the best ideas I learn of in order to provide suggested ways to take action to like minded Democrats, Independents, and thinking Republicans — in addition to calling our Senators and Representative routinely. Its not time to sit back. We need to act as if our house is on fire.

  3. Trump is an anachronism, but he is also a president with a precedent. He may not have been quite so brash about it, and he may now seem moderate in comparison with the present “clown in the room”, but remember that soon after assuming office president Bush junior pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol. So maybe dispair is a bit premature, because the power of oilman Bush and coalman Trump to change the march of progress towards a world that values environments as economic assets as well as sinks of biodiversity and harbours of wellbeing, is limited. These are temporary flies in the ointment that determined and resilient groups in society can wipe away in the fullness of time. We should not panic, but instead learn from Trump’s lessons in the art of populism, and find ways to harness it to the benefit of our children and the natural world, which are one and the same. A focus on the kind of world we want to leave our children is one that everyone can identify with. But it’s no use leaving jobs out of the equation. No more “rust belts”. A green job revolution is needed every bit as much as a green economy one. Let’s get to it.

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