IT’S THE PLANET, STUPID

In 1973, Richard Nixon, hardly a nature boy, was intelligent enough to know that the balance of nature – animals, plants, ecosystems – needed to be protected from corporate greed and short-sighted people who would put profit over stewardship of this fragile earth.

Donald Trump, who is not an intelligent man, has just added to his very long list of environmental atrocities by gutting the Endangered Species Act. Or, more specifically, the coal mining gurus who he has put in charge of the environment have made the decision. If you look up President Trump’s environmental rollbacks you will find a list of more than 80. Among them, he opened up 9 million acres of Western land to oil and gas drilling by weakening protections for the sage grouse, already imperiled. He’s permitted the use of seismic air guns for oil exploration in the Atlantic; we know this disorients and kills marine life. He is determined to open the Arctic for drilling. Pesticides known to cause cancer are now just fine to use, despite the fact that they might kill our children. Cyanide bombs used to kill wildlife in gruesome ways, which were banned, have just been made legal. By the way, they can kill your kids and pets too, and have.

We just learned that, after Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy boarded Air Force One and met with Trump, the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska, which is opposed by scientists and environmentalists, is now on track to becoming a reality. This is a pristine spawning area for salmon. If it’s destroyed, the environmental impact will be devastating. Naomi Klein, the Canadian author and activist, tweeted, “Salmon carry entire eco-systems on their backs. Gold over life.” The scientists at the EPA who have opposed this mine were told to get out of the way and keep quiet.

All of this is taking place at a time when a United Nations report has stated that we face the extinction of a million species of plants and animals in the next few years if we don’t make dramatic and rapid changes in how we treat this planet.

In Bill Clinton’s campaign, the slogan was, “It’s the economy, stupid.” The slogan for our times is much more dire. “It’s the planet, stupid.”

But we have a president who doesn’t understand science, doesn’t respect it, and has absolutely no concern for the big picture of life on earth. He doesn’t know, he doesn’t learn, and he doesn’t care. Under the control of his present appointees, we have no environmental protection. We only have men who see the devastation of nature as being good for business.

Even if we get Donald Trump out of office, even if he doesn’t chain himself to the Resolute desk and refuse to leave – a distinct possibility – he has caused permanent damage to life as we know it. Once you have destroyed an area like Bristol Bay, or Bears Ears National Monument, you can’t restore it. Once you have driven a species to extinction, it’s gone forever. The sad truth is that we will never be rid of the damage this president has caused.  He has left death and ruin in his wake. That will be a big part of his legacy.

The best we can do is own the fact that we can’t lose any more time or any more of the precious life that was created on this earth in exquisite balance. We are here to be stewards of the earth, not its destroyers. If the man occupying the White House doesn’t care about that, we need to override him, with lawsuits, with activism, with our raised voices. We have to act on what we know to be true even if he will never be intelligent enough to know it – that if you keep killing off species, we won’t survive either.

 

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