Today is Earth Day, when all of us focus on saving the planet. The day got its start in 1969 by environment and peace activists and then in 1970 Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson (Democrat) founded the actual “Earth Day” on April 22, 1970, as a teach-in to educate the United States — and the world — about the ill effects humankind was having on the planet. It has expanded in this 47 years and draws attention to things like the islands of floating trash and plastic in the oceans, the effects of oil, gas and other mineral mining on the air, land and water. And global warming — climate change if you will. Most Americans believe we should work to slow down global warming.
Some don’t, like President Donald J. Trump. He and his lackey at the EPA, Scott Pruitt, have been busy making it easier for fossil fuel companies to foul the land, air and water with mining, oil and gas drilling and pipelines. Treaties with the native people be damned. Paris climate accords be damned. The life of the planet be damned.
We will see nice commercials about going out to pick up garbage off the beaches, out of the streams and off the side of the road. Oh wait, that’s the DUI squad picking up roadside trash, as per their sentences. It’s Saturday you know, the day folks convicted of DUI do their community service: cleaning the roadsides across the land.
The news just showed an Earth Festival in Oceanside, CA. The big thing there, according to the news: learning a DYI compost process. Good idea of course, if you own a home with a yard. Just like cleaning up the beaches and reducing plastic consumption. But how about a booth signing people up to oppose Trump’s assault on the environment? Nope, they didn’t show any of that on the news. Maybe there isn’t a booth at the Earth Festival encouraging people to oppose Trump’s destructive policies.
Taking place around the country today is the March for Science. Scientists and those interested in the sciences are marching on Washington, D.C. and hundreds of other cities around the world. Some people fear the march will politicize science — umm, the GOP politicized science years ago when they used “alternative facts” to oppose abortion, clean air, land and water regulations, the space program; alternative facts to try and give away our national parks and public lands to developers that want to strip the earth of its resources and leave a scarred earth behind. Or maybe an oil-blackened beach.
The most prevalent sign at the March for Science: “science is not an alternative fact.”
A sign in Sydney, Australia said, “What do we want? Evidence-based science! When do we want it? After peer review!” Those darn scientists! You wonder why more of them aren’t stand up comedians.
Most Americans don’t know what “peer review” means. If they did Donald Trump wouldn’t be president and we would have had solid climate change legislation in the 1990s and full ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.
As some may recall one of the first things artist and former President George W. Bush did when he took office in 2001 was pull the United States out of the Kyoto Protocol because, well you know, the jury was still out when it came to the science of global warming. It actually wasn’t (isn’t). Global warming is very real and man-made Green House Gas emissions are demonstrably a primary cause.
Remember that nut bag senator from “Oklahoma where the wind comes blowin’ down the plain …” He held up a snowball in the well of the U.S. Senate and said, “See? No global warming!” What he actually said, “It’s very, very cold out, unseasonably [cold]. Catch this Mr. President.”
That was in February 2015. Winter in Washington during what is characteristically one of the coldest months of the year. Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma left out that little fact — and a few other key facts — when declaring global warming a “hoax.” Sadly, Inhofe was chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee at the time. As any credible scientist will confirm: you don’t measure climate change with the local weather. That little factoid is lost on — or buried by — the science deniers.
So, science has been politicized for decades, long before these lab coat marches.
The GOP wants to cut $56 billion from science research; they’re trying to stop NASA scientists from measuring climate change, as if that will somehow magically halt global warming, but the scientists at NASA have been going rogue, like the parkies in our national parks setting up alternative Twitter and Facebook accounts to combat the science denying forces that have taken control of the National Park Service.
Florida has a nut bag governor with a state government run by an equally nutty GOP that is in a full flight from science and reality. They have barred the state’s Department of Environmental Protection from using the terms “global warming,” “climate change” and “sustainability” in official reports and other documents. Despite the fact that Florida is the state most affected by global warming and will lose over 30 percent of its beaches to the rising sea level in the next 85 years.
Professor Hal Wanless, the Chair of the Department of Geological Studies at the University of Miami (Go Canes!) predicts a 4.5-foot rise in the sea level by 2100. He says it will rise about four inches before 2030. This is a nice documentary about how global warming is affecting South Florida today. The ocean is coming up out of the sewers in Miami Beach, flooding the streets. Considering it’s just 3.9 feet above sea level, Miami Beach doesn’t have a lot of leeway when it comes to sea level rise.
But, Governor Rick Scott doesn’t want to hear about it.
About three years ago I posted something about sea level rise and global warming and how it is affecting Southern California. Granted, it was spurred by my observations at San Diego’s annual Over-the-Line tournament and written with a humorous bent, but the science was nevertheless real.
Now, with a climate denier in the Oval Office who believes it’s a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese and a GOP-controlled Congress all too eager to go along with his planet killing policies, we have to do more than just “celebrate” Earth Day. We have to join the scientists and become activists.
As Cara Santa Maria, one of the speakers at the Washington, D.C. March For Science said, “We are at a critical juncture. Science is under attack. The very idea of evidence and logic and reason is being threatened by individuals and interests with the power to do real harm. We’re gathered here today to fight for science. We’re gathered to fight for education, to fight for knowledge and to fight for Planet Earth.”
It’s Earth Day, after all.
Top photo by NASA
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the elected government officials and business were so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that.