The long battle ahead
The key to opposing President Trump’s anti-science policies is sustaining the newly galvanized environmental movement
Considering what the first three months of Donald Trump’s presidency have meant for the planet, we would argue that Earth Day (Saturday, April 22) and Earth Month (April) are more important in 2017 than ever before in the 47-year history of the annual celebration.
Never have we seen such contempt for the efforts to sustain the world. From Trump’s proposal to gut the Environmental Protection Agency to his plans to repeal the years-in-the-making Clean Power Plan, the president and his cabinet of corporate profiteers are poised to reverse course on wide-ranging policies that have mitigated air and water pollution and protected the health of the public.
Perhaps POTUS’ most pathetic anti-environment policy is the attempt to revive the coal industry, which includes the repeal of regulations that protect waterways from mining waste. Thing is, coal-fired power plants have long been unsustainable not only due to their environmental consequences but also because of automation in the industry and the fact that companies have already turned to cheaper and cleaner energy sources, such as solar power and natural gas. In short, the market has left coal behind.
Instead of a futile attempt to prop up this antiquated segment of the energy sector, Trump should invest in efforts to transition miners to the expanding renewables market. You’d think that a president who brags about his business savvy would realize this. You’d also think he wouldn’t want to drag the United States into the Stone Age, thereby jeopardizing our standing as a trailblazer. Indeed, our legacy as an innovator and, as a result, our economic power are at stake under the new anti-science regime.
The good news is that the citizenry is fighting back. We’re seeing this in myriad grassroots efforts, including rallies and marches and burgeoning activist groups—internationally, nationally and locally. We’re also seeing it from major leaders, including the governors of California and New York, Jerry Brown and Andrew M. Cuomo, who recently issued a joint statement reaffirming their commitment to combatting climate change. It’s not just lip service—the Golden and Empire states comprise the first and third highest gross domestic products in the nation, respectively, and are economic powers on the international stage.
The fallout from Trump’s assault on the environment poses major financial consequences on top of quality-of-life issues for all Americans. We’re heartened by the newly galvanized movement to resist his draconian policies and to pressure Congress to do the same, but the key here is sustaining the opposition. One thing is certain: It’s going to be a long four years.