By now, I’m sure, you all know what Donald Trump makes of climate change. We all know because, thanks to his Twitter, we have access to his thoughts in the form of a drip feed. Trump doesn’t just deny climate change is real, but he is actively, and quite vigorously, pushing against environmental action in the United States.
So far, he has approved and prepared the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, appointed Rex Tillerson, Exxon Mobil CEO, as secretary of state and Scott Pruitt as EPA Chief, reopened streams to mining waste pollutants, cut the budget to EPA, altered fuel efficiency standards, signed an executive order to dismantle action on the climate, which included the Clean Power Plan, and has called for the US exit of the first-step achievement, the Paris climate deal.
These, and more, have been completed in his first 100 days. To say that Trump is a threat to the climate is a severe understatement.
However, these actions that his administration have taken are all rather predictable if you consider the fact it is being led by a man that deals with facts and evidence as if they were laid on his desk upon a toy Etch A Sketch. We all knew it was going to be a tough administration for the climate; it was going to be ignored and simply put aside for a few years. Progress, at worst, would be halted until the next election.
Unfortunately, Trump is all about action, and what we have seen in his first 100 days goes far beyond what any of us had imagined. Take, for example, the first day of his presidency. As the dawn was breaking on an ever changing planet, actions, albeit small, were being taken to censor the environment as a topic of discussion in the public arena. On the White House website itself, a yellow corden which read “Off limits to the public” was being rolled out around this topic as all references to climate change were removed.
Since then, we have had national park Twitter accounts going rogue so that they can continue to share information about climate change without interference from the Trump administration. And, only recently, the Environmental Protection Agency’s website has been purged in the same manner, where now sections on environmental protection simply boil down to ‘engaging with partners’ and ‘sensible regulations’.
The EPA’s site used to be one of the largest public resources for data, facts and evidence, alongside NASA, with one of its sole purposes to engage the public in discussion on climate change. It has been heavily relied upon for decades, and was left unmarked even after Bush’s administration.
If you’re a member of the public and you want to do some research of your own on the topic of climate change, you will naturally head to EPA’s website for some unbiased and reliable information. However, now, where the climate change page used to be, what you will find is a ‘page being updated’. And, if you go on to the main pages, you will find that all mention of climate change has been removed.
In an attempt to defend itself against the brute force of the Trump train, even some months before the election, we had environmental scientists and academics all across the US talking about data as if it was a refugee. Unlike the rest of us, they predicted the data purge and so set up events to lay the groundwork that would protect, encrypt and archive the swathes of climate science data the US has accumulated over the last few decades. Data, evidence that is required in Government hearings on climate regulation, was being saved from the President.
When factual information and evidence about our world, science and the climate has never been easier to access, we have a President that doesn’t have the courage to even Google “climate change”, click on the first result, which is Nasa’s very own damning climate change report, and read it to see what he is up against. Instead, what we have is a President that not only wants to stick his own head in the warming sand, but is also pretty adamant in forcing our heads into it too.
It is not uncommon for administrations to want to ‘control the message’, so to speak. What’s terrifying about Trump’s approach though is that he also wants to destroy the evidence and remove, where possible, all traces that climate change even existed in the US. On top of that, the current administration, as we have seen, are trying their very best to silence scientists through gagging orders, bureaucracy and limitations to where they can make speeches and cross borders.
The questions is, how far will Trump go?