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
  • 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 National Parks Conservation Association, the nations leading national park advocacy organization, seeks a Regional Director to lead and manage staff for the Southwest Regional...
  • available in Gothic, CO for 2019 summer season - Manager, Lead Cooks, Prep-Cooks, Dishwasher - at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL). The Dining Hall...
  • Suitable for planting hay, hemp, fruit. Excellent water rights. 1800 square foot farmhouse, outbuildings, worker housing.
  • More information: jobs.wisc.edu. Search 96076
  • Friends of the Verde River is looking for someone to join our team who has a keen investigative mind and is an excellent communicator and...
  • - Thriving Indie bookstore in Durango, CO. 1800 sf of busy retail space in a 3100 sf historic building. Long term lease or option to...
  • with home on one acre in Pocatello, ID. For information and photos visit www.blackrockforgeproperty.com.
  • The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition is seeking a technical partner to develop a land management plan for the 1.9 million-acre Bears Ears Landscape in southeastern...
  • Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • on 3 acres near Moxon. 3 bd/1.5 bath, apt. Views/access to hiking, fishing, wildlife.1-207-593-6312. $165,900.
  • Senior position responsible for the development of all marketing and fundraising strategies to grow the base of philanthropic support and awareness of GSEP.
  • This newly created position with The Nature Conservancy's Colorado River Program will play a key role in the development and implementation of strategies to achieve...
  • The Wilderness Society works to protect Wildlands and inspire Americans to care for our public lands. We seek to hire a strategic, experienced leader who...
  • Organic grocery/cafe at Glacier Bay needs a vibrant leader. Love good food, community, and Alaska? Join us!
  • Collector's Item! The story of barley, the field crop. 50 years of non-fiction research. www.barleybook.com
  • near Ennis, MT. Artist designed, 1900 SF, 2BR/2BA home on 11.6 acres with creek, tree, views, privacy. 406-570-9233 or [email protected] www.arrowreal.com (Country Homes).
  • Colorado Farm to Table is looking for a full-time energetic, creative Executive Director to lead our team in Salida.
  • Join HCN and Black Sheep Adventures on an expedition through the national parks and monuments of Utah and Southwest Colorado, September 7 - 15, 2019....
  • 25 acre in native grasses. Cedar draw. Year-round spring. At foot of Moscow Mnt, ID, 7 miles from town.