Warming Waters: Part 2

Elected Officials

The CRO Flies crew strongly believes that we have a moral obligation to promote conservation and to protect our resources for generations to come.  We want to hand down a planet that is in better shape than the shape in which we received it.  We need to set aside our differences and come together in order to achieve this goal.  We need to observe, we need to educate, and most of all we need to be stewards of the land.  This post will certainly ruffle some feathers, but we can no longer let that silence us.  We may disagree about the political end of things, but we can agree on the importance of protecting the playground that we all know and love… our environment.

Ryan Adcock, our media man, for the photo credit.

We live in an era of ever rising partisanship.  A wedge has been driven between both sides of the aisle, and it is splitting the country apart.  I’m a fan of President Obama and strongly believe that he has done a lot of good in regards to conservation.  He has taken several strides forward in protecting our environment, and the sport that we love.  During his two terms, President Obama has designated many new national monuments, which essentially has protected millions of acres of critical animal habitat, water and of course our recreational areas.  In my opinion his most notable step in protecting our environment has been the passage of the Clean Power Plan.  However, President Obama fell short on his campaign promise of bringing bipartisanship back to Washington, and arguably made the divide even greater.   This is obviously detrimental, and was certainly a major player in creating the freak show that was the 2016 presidential election.

A lot of factors are at play, but I believe a big part of this election was about “flipping the bird” at the establishment.  I get it…  we all do.   However, I’m disheartened that this is what it has come to, and here is why I fear for our future.

My Fears

President Trump has been very clear about his position on climate change for some time now.  We can look all the way back to 2012 when he tweeted that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to make US manufacturing non-competitive.  I know that it was just that… a tweet, and none of us should be finding our facts on Twitter.  However, President Trump has reiterated this sentiment time and time again throughout his campaign.  In an interview that aired December 11, 2016 he stated that, “Nobody really knows” whether climate change is real.  He goes on to say, “Look. I’m somebody that gets it, and nobody really knows. It’s not something that is hard and fast…”.  President Trump also believes that the US should not waste financial resources on climate change.

You will be hard-pressed to find a scientist out there that will agree with any of those statements. In fact, multiple studies have shown that more than 97% of publishing climate scientists agree that climate change is occurring and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gasses emitted by human activity are the primary cause.

Friends and family keep trying to reassure me that once President Trump is “behind the curtain” his attitude will change.  I hope and pray this to be true, but it would be irresponsible of us to not be concerned, and even worse, to look the other way as this unravels.  President Trump already started some minor back peddling by saying, “I think there is some connectivity. Some, something. It depends on how much.”  However, almost in the same breath he says he is considering pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement on reducing greenhouse gases.  During President Trump’s first week in office, he instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to freeze all grants and contracts.  What scares me more is the blackout that his administration instituted on the EPA.  This blackout bans all press releases, blog and social media posts essentially withholding all scientific evidence and environmental concerns from the American people.  I strongly believe that banning such information, no matter the reason, is a very slippery slope.

In addition to President Trump’s thoughts on climate change, we should also be concerned about his campaign promises to help rebirth the coal industry.  I’m from the coal region of Pennsylvania, and I’m all for bringing more jobs back to our struggling area.  However, there is nothing clean about the coal industry.  Forget about all the emissions, coal mining has literally raped our land.  We can see its very visual impact from the massive strip mining pits, to the coal town of Centralia that has literally been on fire since 1962, to streams that run orange.  The world renowned fine art photographer, Edward Burtynsky, is known for his stunning landscape photography that documents our negative impact on the world.  He was actually inspired to create this breathtaking body of work when he took a wrong turn while driving through Pennsylvania.  Lost, Burtynsky pulled to the side of the road in Frackville, stepped out of his vehicle and looked all around.  He saw a landscape that had been severely altered by our strip mines. This “wrong turn” was a pivotal moment in Burtynsky’s career.  He felt compelled to create a global conversation on sustainability through his work.  How much longer can our world keep giving and giving before it is too late to undo the destruction?

Edward Burtynsky, Nickel Tailings #34-35 (as diptych) – Sudbury, Ontario 1996
Courtesy of Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto

Edward Burtynsky, Oil Fields #19ab Belridge, California, USA, 2003
Courtesy of Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto

{Follow links at the bottom of this post to see more of Burtynsky’s inspirational work}

What worries me more than President Trump’s uncertainty of climate change and our hand in it, is his choice to lead the EPA.  Scott Pruitt is a critic of the EPA, he has sued the EPA over its regulations of power plants, he is currently involved in 8 of those ongoing lawsuits and he is also a climate change denier.  To make things worse, Scott Pruitt is an ally of the fossil fuel industry and has worked to make America more dependent on fossil fuels instead of less.  To add fuel to the fire, the oil and gas industry is one of the most influential industries in Washington.  This is a scary scenario as the evidence is clear that we need to be moving away from fossil fuels while working towards cleaner energy.  Think of all the jobs that this transition would create.

It is unknown how this will all play out, but President Trump and Scott Pruitt’s current position and recent actions in regards to climate change are reason for concern.  It certainly seems like the regulations and legislation we have in place to protect the environment will be loosened if not cut all together.  I hope and pray that my family and friends are correct, and President Trump’s and Scott Pruitt’s eyes will be opened to the seriousness of the problem of climate change.  I hope and pray that they are guided towards making environmentally friendly decisions.  I hope and pray that we all can become more aware of our impact on our beautiful land, and most importantly that we can make this enough of a concern of the people that all of our politicians follow suit.

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

Ryan Adcock, our media man, for the photo credit.

Below is a link to part one of this series which discusses the science behind this issue.

Warming Waters: Part 1  A Front Row Seat

Follow the link below to take a look at Edward Burtynsky’s breathtaking work.  Beware, as you will be sucked into the beauty of these aesthetically pleasing artworks before you realize the severity of the destruction you are looking at.

Edward Burtynksy

Click on the link below to watch Burtynsky’s powerful Ted Talk.

My Wish: Manufactured Landscapes and Green Education

Sources:

“Edward Burtynsky – Artist Statement.” Edward Burtynsky – Artist Statement. www.EdwardBurtynsky.com N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

Burtynsky, Edward. “My wish: Manufactured landscapes and green education.” Edward Burtynsky: My wish: Manufactured landscapes and green education | TED Talk | TED.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

Davenport, Coral, and Eric Lipton. “Trump Picks Scott Pruitt, Climate Change Denialist, to Lead E.P.A.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 07 Dec. 2016. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.

Dennis, Braddy, and Juliet Eilperin. “Trump administration tells EPA to freeze all grants, contracts.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 24 Jan. 2017. Web. 26 Jan. 2017.

Eilperin, Juliet. “Trump says ‘nobody really knows’ if climate change is real.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 11 Dec. 2016. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.

“FACT SHEET: President Obama to Designate New National Monuments Protecting Significant Natural and Cultural Resources in Utah and Nevada.” The White House. The United States Government, 28 Dec. 2016. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

Gaby, Keith. “This EPA candidate brags about suing the agency, calls climate science “unsettled”.” Environmental Defense Fund. N.p., 30 Nov. 2016. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.

Gomez, Serafin. “Trump admin institutes media blackout for EPA, suspends social media activity.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 25 Jan. 2017. Web. 26 Jan. 2017.

Harrington, Rebecca. “President-elect Donald Trump doesn’t believe in climate change. Here’s his platform on the environment.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 09 Nov. 2016. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.

Kenny, Caronline. “Trump: ‘Nobody really knows’ if climate change is real.” CNN. Cable News Network, 12 Dec. 2016. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.

Lee, Jasmine C., and Adam Pearce. “How Trump Can Influence Climate Change.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 08 Dec. 2016. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.

Lempert, Robert, and Debra Knopman. “With Trump in the White House, states could step up on climate change.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 25 Nov. 2016. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.

NASA. NASA, n.d. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.

 

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