A Billion Reasons Why She Really Needs It
Last month we learned that 2019 was the second hottest year on record. We ended the decade with a new record of being the hottest decade ever.
The oceans also set a record for temperatures last year. Excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions is absorbed by the oceans of our planet, putting coral reefs on the brink and leading to loss of biodiversity of marine species. A million species could be gone by 2050 due to climate change.
On the other side of the globe, a billion animals are estimated to have died in Australia’s devastating fires, accelerating extinction for some species. A major collapse in global fauna is threatening more than 26,000 species, and insects are dying off at record rates.
We are wrecking our only home.
Meanwhile, the Trump Administration has rolled back 95 environmental rules. The New York Times reports that of these environmental rollbacks, 58 have been completed and 37 are in progress. The administration’s actions are in direct opposition to the evidence.
In early January, the Trump Administration proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which evaluates the environmental impacts of proposed major federal projects, including pipelines, highways and oil and gas development and the effects on nearby communities. In a response to these changes to NEPA, which many consider the “Magna Carta” of federal environmental law, Republican Rep. Francis Rooney and our own Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette thankfully sent a letter to the entire House urging colleagues to oppose Trump’s changes.
“Streamlining” environmental rules seems to be the president’s modus operandi. He has proposed such “streamlining” for the approval process for drilling in national forests – which involves simplifying the permit system and leading to a decrease in public input.
Last May the Trump Administration lifted a summertime ban on the use of E15, which is a gasoline blend made of 15 percent ethanol. Burning ethanol during warm months leads to increased smog. While farmers cheered this decision as it helped lessen their burden of tariffs on corn and soybeans – tariffs that were, notably, implemented by President Trump – environmentalists and even oil companies criticized the move.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has declared Colorado a serious violator of air quality. The violations illustrate that ozone levels continue to be a problem along the Front Range. Ozone contributes to smog. Just take a look westward. It is hard to miss the hazy brown cloud blocking the view of the mountains.
With many species on the brink of extinction, Trump has still managed to successfully change the Endangered Species Act by making it harder to protect wildlife from the multiple threats of climate change. The change will make it easier for new mining, oil and gas drilling and development.
As if targeting endangered species wasn’t enough, Trump has rejected a ban on chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to developmental disabilities in children. A ban on this pesticide will take effect in the European Union this year – but not in the U.S. In October, the president doubled the time of allowance to remove lead pipes from water systems. Children under six are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can cause damage to mental and physical development.
During the course of the impeachment hearings the president made a campaign stop in Michigan. There, Trump actually lamented about the number of times that people have to flush the toilet and have to run the dishwasher. Some of his supporters echoed his comments. But, not all members of the GOP bought the president’s line.
Said Christine Todd Whitman, a former governor of New Jersey and the EPA Administrator under George W. Bush, “I don’t know what product they’re using but I don’t have to run it two or three times. My dishwashers do just fine, thank you. I do it once. My dishes are clean and everybody’s healthy. I don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Back in Colorado, I can safely report that I do not have to flush my water-efficient toilet 10 times after use. I agree with former Gov. Whitman that my water-efficient dishwasher does just fine. I am not sure what the president is putting in the toilets in the White House, but it’s clear they are overflowing.
If this grim climate reports appears to be overwhelming, it is. We are in trouble and we must rise to the occasion.
This Valentine’s Day give Mother Earth a lot of love. She needs it.
Tracey MacDermott is chair of the board of Greater Park Hill Community, Inc. She was trained as a Climate Reality Leader in 2017, and is currently the Statewide Co-Chair of the Climate Reality Project for the 100% Committed Campaign.