Where’s the outrage opinions fairfaxtimes.com static electricity in the body


A recent (3/30/18) Vox.com article titled, “Why the campaign to force Scott Pruitt out of the EPA could backfire” was subtitled, “Outrage from environmentalists will only boost Pruitt’s standing in Trump’s orbit.” So you have to be an environmentalist to be outraged at someone who’s using his position as leader of the Environmental Protection Agency to promote fossil fuel sales to other countries? Which made me think: What is a non-environmentalist? Someone who doesn’t care that overwhelming evidence unequivocally proves that climate change and sea level rise are accelerating? Who doesn’t care that a February 13th NASA article conservatively projected a doubling of the previous rate of sea level rise, so that seas would rise 26 to 47 inches—or more!—by 2100, even if emissions stopped today? Do non-environmentalists not care about the other impacts of climate change: increased incidence and intensity of floods, storms, drought, pests, and diseases; as well as ocean acidification, mass extinction, and an ice-free arctic in 20-25 years? Do they not care that a 2/5/18 scientific study showing that global warming will release some or all of the 15 million gallons of mercury trapped in the arctic permafrost into the food chain? Could they care less about all the studies linking the consequences of breathing car exhaust next to a busy road to Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, and cancer, or about the destruction of parks, forests, and wildlife?

It’s our government’s duty to heed the dire warning of scientists and their conclusions (based on overwhelming, unequivocal scientific data), despite the ignorance and/or indifference of “non-environmentalists.” Our government should have long ago enacted legislation to fight climate change and the destruction of Nature. Yet, Trump and his appointees are doing everything they can to ruin the environment for years to come. And Trump is winning because environmental news is overshadowed by all his other misdeeds (and because the stock market is rising?), so that environmental apathy is rampant. For instance, in a recent “The Car Connection” review of the 2019 Honda Insight, whose promised fuel efficiency is 50 mpg or better, one of the dislikes is, “Does gas mileage matter any more?” Meanwhile, sales of gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks are stronger than ever. As a recently retired environmental engineer who first learned of climate change in 1988, and as someone who walks outdoors a lot (instead of driving), this ignorance and apathy is crazy and maddening. Just like doctors smoking in cigarette ads was maddening after numerous studies showed that smoking causes cancer. If those owners of gas guzzlers were born in the first half of the 20th century, they would have undoubtedly died of smoking, just like almost all of my relatives. Because make no mistake, climate change will eventually have many more dire consequences than cigarette smoking once did.

So here I sit, feeling helpless and frustrated, because my government callously promotes environmental ignorance, climate change, and the destruction of Nature. Even Virginia’s new democratic governor caters to Dominion Power’s greedy desire to construct unnecessary natural gas pipelines (existing pipelines have plenty of excess capacity), instead of demanding the stream-by-stream analysis of their water crossings he promised during his campaign. No one, except the homeowners whose property along the pipeline’s route was expropriated or devalued, cares about the pipelines’ impacts: the resultant methane and CO2 that will go into the atmosphere; the destruction of vegetation, wildlife habitat, and wetlands; the groundwater contamination; and the risk of pipeline explosions. No one cares that the efficiency of commercially available rooftop solar panels has increased to 17-22.5% (up from 11-12% a few years ago), with a corresponding decrease in the cost per kilowatt hour generated (so that cheap, ubiquitous solar energy would make existing gas pipelines obsolete). And finally, I feel that very few political candidates have the integrity and backbone to stand up against the fossil fuel lobby and proclaim (yes, along with Al Gore!) that climate change is an urgent crisis and that the destruction of Nature must be stopped. I wonder: How many other Americans feel as frustrated as I do?