Sohn: Bring some voices to support science and Earth Day

Sohn: Bring some voices to support science and Earth Day

April 22nd, 2017 by Pam Sohn in Opinion Times

With the Trump administration's rape and murder of science, climate and environmental programs, we all may be doomed to the most frightening projections for climate change.

Bill McKibben, a founder of 350.org and scholar in residence in environmental studies at Vermont's Middlebury College, posits in the New York Times' Sunday Review that with Trump in charge at this critical moment for keeping climate change in check "we may never recover" in time to avoid catastrophic rising temperatures and sea levels.

Why? Because Trump is cheating us of valuable time, and our partisan Congress is allowing it.

We have only a short window to deal with the climate crisis or lose forever the chance to slow and stop truly catastrophic heating, according to scientists.

The Paris Climate Accord, reached in 2015, is an international pledge by most of the world's countries to do all they can to hold the rise in Earth's temperature to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Right now we're still below that number, but already ice at the earth's poles is melting at horrifyingly fast rates, and sea levels already are rising.

McKibben says that at current rates of burning coal, gas and oil, we could put enough carbon in the atmosphere in the next four years to eventually push us past that temperature limit.

"The planet's hope, coming out of those Paris talks, was that we'd see such growth in renewable energy that we'd begin to close the gap between what physics demands and what our political systems have so far allowed in terms of action," McKibben writes.

Instead, virtually every action Trump has taken in the fields of energy, science and environment is an action that will slow that renewable energy momentum.

He's trying to give gas-guzzlers new life, and he's slashing the money to help poor nations move toward clean energy.

He's talking about pulling out of the Paris accords.

He speaks of bringing the coal mines back, even as The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum in Benham, Ky., switches to solar energy to save money.

His budget plan, released in mid-March, would slash more than half of the funding for NOAA's ocean and atmospheric research, eliminating scores of research projects, including the agency's long-running, $73 million Sea Grant program. In short, anything having to do with climate study is being axed.

That same Trump budget plan would slash away a third of EPA's funding and a fifth of environmental agencies' staff.

Even if other nations step up and make up for what we see as Trump's misguided actions to prop up oil investments, our new president at this critical time can hamper not only U.S. entrepreneurialism in alternative energy, but the planet as a whole.

That makes this Earth Day — and today's March for Science protest on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., — and the more than 609 satellite marches around the world, including one in Chattanooga — all the more important.

The Chattanooga March for Science begins at 1 p.m. at Main Terrain Art Park off West Main Street. It is scheduled to end at 3 p.m. Similar marches are set in Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis, as well as in Atlanta.

Science serves all of us. It protects our air and water, preserves our planet, saves lives with weather forecasts and medical treatments, creates new industries, puts food on our tables, educates the next generation, and safeguards our future.

Science isn't Democratic or Republican, nor is it liberal or conservative. Science is as natural as breathing — and in fact it is vital to breathing.

The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement.

Let's help make Earth Day even bigger this year!

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