The Trump Administration released The National Climate Assessment during the hubbub of Black Friday, trying to smother its impact. The general overview included:
– “Human activities are causing the climate to change faster than it has at any point in the history of civilization.”
– “Evidence of human causation is undeniable and growing. We’re not doing enough yet.”
– “Climate change is already a threat to American health and wealth, as high summer temperatures increase the risk of illness and death and the heat wave season has already increased by over 40 days since the 1960s in some cities.”
– “The high emissions scenario is expected to cost $160 billion in lost wages; two billion labor hours lost annually by 2090 due to temperature extremes.”
– “Sea level rise is already forcing people to abandon coastal communities.”
There exists a global climate change crisis. The U.S. is part and parcel of this world. So, what are we doing? Well, in December, the Sierra Club reported:
– “Fossil companies have spent nearly $2 billion since 2000 lobbying the government not to take action on climate change.”
–“The EPA will allow the use of asbestos in U.S. manufacturing.”
– “The Bureau of Land Management will no longer require oil and gas companies, mine operators and other industries to pay compensation for the damage their activities do to public land.”
Walter Einenkel of the Daily Kos reported in January that EPA fines against polluters dropped by 85 percent last year:
“While the EPA has handed out an average of around $500 million in civil penalty fines per year (adjusted for inflation), the Trump administration only handed out $72 million in fines last year. That is an 85 percent drop in punitive fines handed out for environmental protections violations. As (former EPA enforcement analyst Cynthia) Giles points out, the point of fining businesses for violations is to create a clear financial deterrent, and send the message that it is more affordable for big business to follow the rules than it is to break them.
“On top of this staggering number, Giles found that the amount of money that big business needed to pay in order to be in compliance of federal laws dropped from $7.8 billion (on average) to $5.6 billion. ‘That represents the lowest amount of injunctive relief since 2003.’”
Sierra Club President Michael Brune reminds us of the determination of the polluters and poisoners: “Although hundreds of thousands of government workers were furloughed, Bureau of Land Management employees were soon called back to work – without pay – so that they could relieve the industry’s distress by approving lease applications for drilling on our public lands.
”That’s right, even as we learn that oceans are warming 40 percent faster than we thought and that glaciers relied on by millions for drinking water are disappearing , the Trump administration is still racing to do exactly the wrong thing. It’s hard to say which is more astonishing: the greed or the stupidity.”
This travesty does properly reflect the short-sighted, greed-first religion of the business community.
On. Jan 22, Jo Confino of the Huffington Post reported from the bigshot economic forum in Davos, Switzerland that, “…a flagship survey of 1,378 chief executives from more than 90 countries….shows that concerns about climate change and environmental damage have sharply fallen over the past year.
“In 2018, the annual poll by professional services provider PwC showed a rather paltry 31 percent of chief executives were “extremely concerned” by climate change. The problem then barely squeezed into the top 10 perceived threats, below issues such as increasing tax burdens and the availability of key skills.
“But this year, with rising alarm over trade threats and populism, only 19 percent of business leaders highlighted the risks of climate change, which fell to 13th place on their list of priorities.”
Encouragingly, NBC reported a recent Yale-George Mason survey shows that 72 percent of Americans are concerned about climate change.
But, NBC added the flip-side survey from an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research that only 28 percent of us would willingly sacrifice $10 a month to correct the problem.
Not surprisingly, only 15 percent of static quo Republicans recognize climate change as serious problem and that “immediate action is necessary.”
And, in Duncan, Oklahoma, folks are getting ready for spring by spraying poisons all over their yards – and wherever else the wind might blow them.
(Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party: scdpok.us)