Commentary: Trump fiddles while the planet burns

In February of last year, Fox News published an opinion piece titled “It’s time to get rid of the EPA,” in which author Bill Wilson asserted that “false data” and “fuzzy science” were used to justify the Clean Air Act and to block construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. In the intervening period, it has become abundantly clear which political party has been peddling “false data” and “fuzzy science” to push their profit-driven, anti-environment agenda. Now the Trump administration wants to make that absurd headline a reality. Imagine the GOP’s delight if they are finally able to realize their dream of “de-fanging the EPA,” leaving our rivers, forests, mountains, and the very air that you and I breathe, at the mercy of corporate polluters as a toothless watchdog lies dead at our feet.

A strong Environmental Protection Agency is critical to maintaining existing standards for safeguarding our environment, as well as recognizing new threats and crafting appropriate responses to those threats. In Warren County, home of the Avtex Superfund site, we are already battling problems with pollution-driven haze on Skyline Drive, and mercury in the Shenandoah River. Impeding or halting the EPA’s ability to perform its duties is a gross misuse of the current administration’s power and a disservice to our region, our country and the entire planet.

We can see the grave dangers posed by man-made climate change with our own eyes: increasingly destructive storms, forests burning out of control, dying reefs, rising sea temperatures, suffocating marine life, melting ice caps, rising carbon dioxide levels, and extinctions of species. Climate change deniers whisper soothing “alternative facts” so that we make no objection as they poison our water in order that a handful of CEOs can pocket bigger bonuses with greater ease. They hypnotize us with “fake news” so that we nod compliantly and accept the trillions of dollars in costs our older selves and our children will pay to deal with the consequences of living on an increasingly volatile planet.

Most Americans recognize and acknowledge the impending danger, but those in power today are willfully blind. Future generations will look very unkindly on us if we refuse to take action to minimize climate change when the danger has been so clearly identified by science. Our generation will live in infamy as the most foolish and selfish in the long history of humanity if we choose convenience and profit over a healthy planet for future generations.

Our window of opportunity is closing. We must act quickly and decisively to head off the devastation bearing down on us. The first step in doing better is to restrain those who would cause us to do worse. The EPA is considering major deregulation now, and citizen have the opportunity to submit comments. Do a web search on “your voice in federal decision-making” and tell the Trump administration that the American people insist on preserving and strengthening the EPA. We expect our leaders to demonstrate a genuine commitment to making the Earth a stronger, healthier planet, starting now.

Laura Kelly works in information technology and lives in Warren County.