It’s hard for an environmentalist to not feel despair right now. I’ve been counseling people to wait and watch. When someone has been as much as a liar and changed what he says as often as Trump does, it’s easy to believe that he won’t move forward with some of the things he has promised to do, right now, I’m not sure if I am being rationale or in denial. Typically, I counsel action as there are so many things you can do to protect our planet.
However, first we have to mourn. We have to mourn for what we have lost. I believed that we were on the verge of having leadership that understood what most other world leaders truly understand – that burning fossil fuels has been causing significant and major harm to our planet and that we need to stop burning fossil fuels as quickly as possible, and we need to prepare for our changing climate. I work on these issues every day through my actions, my words, the projects I run for my community and the policies I advocate for at state and federal levels.
Today, I am not just disappointed that our country didn’t elect the person who I believe could lead the United States in this complicated time of climate change, but also I feel the acute loss of having firmly believed that we would have that leadership which has now been snatched away, as certainly and suddenly as if someone had died. I, and many people I know, have been moving through the past few days as if a very close friend or a family member had died. We all have our own ways of dealing with mourning and death and we have to help each other through that. My way is crying, and then slowly talking with people who understand the depth of my pain and fear. I truly appreciate the people who have been aware and respectful of how profound this loss is for me.
I was starting to accept that the easy road to protecting our planet was gone, yet I had hope that Trump, having recently been liberal, might still realize that he can’t have clean air and clean water unless we stop burning fossil fuels and do the right things in this area. I’ve been seeing rumors about who he might appoint to head the EPA, but I keep telling myself that they are just rumors. Yesterday I came across his new transition website. I don’t want to legitimize it or him by using his name (really, he’s not magical like Voldemort) or pointing people to his website. However, I believe in citing my sources.
[I will note here though, that in acknowledgement that the web is easily changed and that since Trump (there I did it again) has changed his words so often, I have felt it necessary to include a screenshot of what I saw tonight in case it changes again. I’m not crazy and I’m not wrong if this is not what his site says when you go to see for yourself, he just can’t keep his story straight.]
I am heartened to see that he he acknowledges “the country’s most important resources – our clean air, clean water and natural habitats.” However, Donald Trump honestly seems to believe that he can allow coal mining, encourage fossil fuel production on American land and still keep the air and water clean. Burning fossil fuels – gasoline, oil, coal, natural gas – is the leading cause of air pollution in the world. Even China has figured this out and when they wanted the air clean for the Olympics, “The country shut down all nearby factories and ordered half the cars off the road, creating tangible improvements, scientists say.” – National Geographic, August 2008. It was tangible. When they stopped the combustion, it was easier for people to breathe in China. The Chinese people understand this, which is why their country is making a faster transition to renewable energy than anyone thought possible.
Usually I have advice for what people can do. Right now there’s a lot of speculation, waiting and watching. However, the US Senate has to approve all of his nominations to the US Cabinet and many other nominations, including the EPA Administrator. Write to your Senators and ask them, for the sake of your children’s health, to not vote to confirm someone as Energy Secretary or as EPA Administrator, who doesn’t understand that burning fossil fuels pollutes the air and makes it harder to breathe. Ask them only to confirm someone who believes in climate change being manmade. Even if you believe your Senator already agrees with you, write to them anyhow, so that they know their constituents are with them.
And watch this space. When we know who he has nominated for confirmation, then we will ask you to send specific letters about specific people – and who knows, I still have hope, maybe he won’t pick any of the names being tossed around right now, maybe he’ll choose someone who does believe the science.
In the meantime, I’m reading email from the Sierra Club and support in my state Sierra Club chapter to make changes here in my state. I’m following the World Wildlife Fund and the National Resources Defense Council. I’m watching what Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders say. I’m ready to support the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
I’m waiting, I’m watching, I’m listening, I’m talking. I’m standing with people who are bullied and talking to my children how important it is to stand up when they witness discrimination, intimidation and bullying. We have to stand up for our values and support those that are terrified and vulnerable. Here’s an excellent illustration created by the artist Maeril on how to help someone being harassed in a public space.
Watch with me.
P.S. Watch Leonard DiCaprio’s Before the Flood. You won’t be disappointed.
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