Our political decisions have Earth-wide implications

The facts are in. Now we have to decide what to do about them.

 

In Idaho, a political battle over climate change education is afoot. Lawmakers there want to scrub information about the subject from statewide science guidelines, veering away from national standards and leaving public-school students in ignorance. After all, the facts are in: Humans add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, thereby trapping the sun’s energy and heating up the planet. That’s not a value judgment; it’s just science. But denying it is akin to denying the existence of gravity.

For now, Idaho’s more sensible teachers and students are pushing back, and it looks like some vestige of reason will be restored to classrooms. However, it is unlikely we’ve heard the last of this sort of thing, as a full-on ideological war on science is underway in our country. Ideas once confined to shock jocks and Twitter trolls have entered national politics, and now the White House.

As the venerable Scientific American recently reported, under President Donald Trump critical science positions in federal agencies have not been filled, science advisory panels are being disbanded, and science-based policies are being undermined. These, too, are facts, verifiable and indisputable, and yet I get letters these days asking me to stop disparaging the president. Believe me, I wish I could. But Trump’s policies are endangering the long-term effectiveness of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, to name just a few. In other words, this administration is undermining the American institutions that make our water and workplaces safe, cure diseases, and explore and study land, sea and space.

Editor-in-chief, Brian Calvert
Brooke Warren/NewTowncarShare News

Why? I have no idea. But I do know this: The Earth’s massive systems don’t care a whit about you, me or Donald Trump. They will keep churning, turning, spinning and grinding according to universal laws, no matter what we say or believe. Here on this tiny rock in an infinite cosmos, we are free to extinguish ourselves or not, according to the rational (or irrational) choices we make.

This issue’s cover story helps explain why these choices matter, why science matters. In it, writer J. Madeleine Nash takes us to the Alaskan Arctic, where researchers are trying to understand what will happen when vast stretches of permafrost thaw. Right now, no one knows for sure. What we do know is that, as temperatures rise, ice thaws. (Try denying that.) And when you defrost thousands of miles of muck, thousands of feet thick, something on our planet will change. If only it were the president’s view of what actually makes America great: our power to reason, desire to discover and curiosity about the wonderful world we live in — at least while it lasts.

NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • 5 acres, views, utilities to lot line includes paid water tap, great for passive solar design, covenants and NO HOA. Listed by Beckie at Keller...
  • The Native American Fish and Wildlife Society (NAFWS) is seeking qualified applicants to fill a vacant Executive Director position in Denver, CO. The position serves...
  • The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with a 25-year legacy of success using the power of the...
  • 383 Acres with trails, private road, trees, stream and fabulous views. Earth Sheltered, passive solar home provides 2785 sf of comfort and a "top of...
  • certified, 51 acres, small cottage, outbuildings, equipment and tools. Contact: [email protected]
  • 2bd/2bath green home on 2 acres on the Ojo Caliente River, NM. MLS #101605. Contact [email protected]
  • of mountains, 22+ acres. Close to Arroyo Seco and the Taos Ski Valley, NM. MLS #102585, [email protected]
  • 2br-2ba, acreage. Birders, writers. 1000.
  • 1400 sf of habitable space in a custom-designed eco-home created and completed by a published L.A. architect in 1997-99. Nestled within its own 80-acre mountain...
  • The Wilderness Society is currently recruiting for a Communications Manager for our Northwest Region. This position can be located in Seattle or Oakland. For more...
  • 1912 Orchard House completely rebuilt 2002. 4000 sq ft home and private guest cottage on .53 acres. Reclaimed maple and Doug Fir. Two garages. CathyMooney.com,...
  • with home on one acre in Pocatello, ID. For information and photos visit www.blackrockforgeproperty.com.
  • Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) seeks a new Executive Director to guide this dynamic national advocacy, watchdog, and service organization. The successful candidate requires...
  • The California Program Manager will work closely with California-based program staff and other NFF staff to provide project management and program development support. The incumbent...
  • Founded in 1989, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is dedicated to protecting the Wests land, air, and water to ensure that vibrant communities exist in balance...
  • Founded in 1989, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is dedicated to protecting the Wests land, air, and water to ensure that vibrant communities exist in balance...
  • Founded in 1989, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is dedicated to protecting the Wests land, air, and water to ensure that vibrant communities exist in balance...
  • Founded in 1989, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is dedicated to protecting the Wests land, air, and water to ensure that vibrant communities exist in balance...
  • Sierra Club is looking for a community organizer who can help us protect grizzly bears and other wildlife species in the Northern Rockies region. This...
  • Join HCN and Black Sheep Adventures on an expedition through the national parks and monuments of Utah and Southwest Colorado, September 7 - 15, 2019....