I’ve had a hobby for the last couple months. I just finished my PhD in Earth Science, but on the side I’ve been making a to-do list. For the last two years, I’ve been watching the ways that President Trump is attacking the environment I study and my colleagues that study the environment. It was becoming difficult to keep track of all the ways that his policies have hurt the planet, so I started a list of things he’s done, with dates, sources, and agencies responsible included. As environmental voters, need need to cross items off this list as soon as we can.
I have categorized 120 actions as “ugly.” These are malevolent actions which I, an environmental professional, conclude will cause permanent damage to our planet’s lifeforms, both human and non-human. Some ugly actions are intended to purge the government of environmental professionals and scientists who cannot be easily brought back when Trump is gone. Their loss will take decades to undo.
119 actions are classified as “bad.” These are actions we can likely reverse when we vote in representatives who are responsible stewards of the environment. Unfortunately, Trump’s administration has likely moved the window of what was acceptable to Republicans in terms of environmental damage. I am worried that this is the new normal if we as voters to not register our displeasure.
12 actions are “neutral,” with implications that are unclear.
A sadly small 22 actions of the Trump administration can be classified as helpful to the environment. I am happy to add more if they are pointed out. These are glimmers of hope to me. They are a sign that some aspects of the machinery protecting our environment are still working despite attempts from Andrew Wheeler, Ryan Zinke, Scott Pruitt, Rick Perry and others who seek to permanently lobotomize the government’s ability to regulate harm against the environment.
I would note I probably would have several dozen more entries on this list if I included Mick Mulvaney’s proposed budgets here. Every year, he basically proposes firing all environmental scientists from the government and defunding most of the means we have to regulate pollution from corporations. So far, Congress has resisted 99% of his crazy proposals, but talking heads on Fox News and other conservative commentators have become increasingly vocal that they will not tolerate a budget next year which doesn’t include significant cuts to research and environmental protection. So next year, we may witness irreplaceable programs get put on the chopping block. Researchers may get laid off. And these educated professionals will leave the work force never to return if that happens.
I believe that as a whole, this list represents a crime against our world by an administration that was not elected with a popular mandate. The voters who elected them will be hurt by many of these actions. As soon as we have the means to, environmentally conscious voters must begin pressuring our representatives to undo these crimes against the planet. Our children are depending on us to reconstruct the mechanisms needed to rein in pollution, stop climate change and study humanity’s place in the environment. I will be keeping this list in mind when I vote in the future, so I thought I’d share it and update it. Please feel free to comment with any items I may have missed and I will update the spreadsheet.