Over these last few days since President Trump pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord, he and his aides-most prominently, EPA chief Scott Pruitt-have been unwilling to answer a simple question: “Does the President think that climate change is a hoax?”
However, for as important as this question is, it is unnecessary. Why? Because we already know the answer. And the answer is that Trump and Pruitt do not believe in global warming. In fact, it’s even worse than that. These guys do not believe in science. They do not accept that science has any role to play in environmental decision-making.
We know this because their contempt for science has been at the root of every decision they have made: from pulling out of the Paris deal; to insisting that the EPA’s budget be slashed by a third; to firing EPA scientists and pulling scientific information off the EPA’s website; to wanting to cut almost half the resources currently being used to clean up the country’s most dangerously contaminated (“Superfund”) sites; to putting back on the market a pesticide already proven (by EPA scientists, no less) to damage children’s brains.
What they have done is to replace science with politics and a reckless disdain of facts as a basis for making environmental decisions.
This ought to alarm every American. It also should offend everyone who voted for Trump, because it assumes that these voters are too stupid to understand that science is necessary to protect us from those things in our environment that can harm us.
The extraordinary role that science has played in making our country and the world safer really should not require a defense. Simply put, because of science and scientists, we know, for example, that:
- Many chemicals in our world-like TCE and vinyl chloride-are carcinogens, which, in smaller concentrations than we believed even just 10 years ago, can do great damage to our health.
- These chemicals harm children even more than adults. Because science has taught us that a child’s immune system is immature, and so it does not expel toxins as efficiently as an adult does.
- The incidence of serious and chronic disease-like cancers and respiratory ailments-is significantly higher in people who live near factory smokestacks, and among certain populations exposed to these chemicals, like farmworkers.
- Certain toxic chemicals (“Volatile organic compounds”) in groundwater– which once were believed to pose no threat to humans who were not dependent on the groundwater as a drinking source-are now known to “vaporize”, or easily migrate upwards from the groundwater, and slip into the breathing space of a home or office located above the contaminated groundwater, and threaten human health.
This list could go on for thousands of pages. And it would include our knowing that the earth is round and rotates around the sun after the science-deniers of his time punished Galileo for saying otherwise.
Are we going back there? Are we going to allow that?