Point of View Columns

Extinction in Disguise

And now, for his next dark magic trick, Donald Tinyhands has actually withdrawn the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. With the stroke of a pen he has managed to have this country exit the most extensive collective global initiative since the founding of the United Nations, seemingly based on the totally false premise that climate change is a Chinese hoax and the absolutely truth challenged notion that this precipitous act of naked nationalism will help the American worker (presumably that select group of American workers who don’t breathe or drink water).

There are many pernicious and dangerous aspects to this chapter of the Book of Trump. Starting with the fact that this validation of an anti-science attitude reflects the neo-Luddite pseudo-philosophy that is sweeping some parts of the country. Indeed, in 2017 there are 14 states, such as Tennessee, Florida, Ohio and Louisiana to name a few, that allow the teaching of creationism in science classes in public schools.

And it is bad enough that American children are being taught that Adam and Eve walked with the dinosaurs. But it is even worse that science-based facts supporting the theory of evolution are treated in many of these same schools as simply an alternative to the Garden of Eden version set forth in the Bible.

There are refugees from the realm of fact and science who have not only taken the high ground in public education, but are also finding their way into the world of medical science. There are 20 states that now allow “personal belief” exemptions for adults (and their unlucky children) who choose not to have what used to be mandatory vaccinations. As a result, for the first time in over half a century we now see a rise in measles and other childhood diseases that had virtually disappeared in this country.

Meanwhile, the same wrongheaded flight from science that has challenged the facts supporting the science of evolution and the public health importance of vaccinations are also fighting a fact-free battle against the science that supports climate change. It is beyond belief that the president of the most scientifically advanced country in the world would label climate change a Chinese hoax – but here we are, caught in the spidery web where politics, policy and ignorance have been joined joined together.

There is not enough space in this column to detail all of the scientific proof that details the reality of the climate of this planet changing due to human activity. But you are invited to read “The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert which details how life on this planet was nearly extinguished five times over the billions of years that there has been a planet Earth, and that now there are (too) many signs that humanity is on yet another path that leads to extinction, this time initiated by humanity and all the technology that will accompany us to the brink of this existential abyss.

And meantime, there are some soon to be unemployed coal miners who are celebrating the temporary reprieve for their jobs, while over 6 million Americans who work in the alternative energy sector will have to wait and see whether their industry, which should be positioned to lead the world, will even exist in the Age of Donald Tinyhands.

President Trump has bellowed in his inimitable style that he is protecting the American worker by withdrawing this country from the Paris Climate Agreement. But many workers will lose their jobs that are connected to the inexorable move from fossil fuels to alternative and reusable energy that the rest of the world is pursuing.

And it can be reasonably be asked how the American worker can be saved if there is no clean air, clean water or a clear and clean future.

Don’t wait for an answer from Donald Tinyhands.