Going Green: Trump's Climate Change War, and Why You Should Pay Attention

Going Green: Trump's Climate Change War, and Why You Should Pay Attention

From gag orders to executive decrees, Trump has served up a litany of attacks on the environment in his first week in office.

From gag orders to executive decrees, Trump has served up a litany of attacks on the environment in his first week in office.

Text: William Defebaugh

It's only Donald Trump's first week in the White House and he's already racked up an increasingly concerning list of assaults against the environment, beginning with the erasure of the climate change page on the White House's official website just moments after his inauguration on Friday.

Just yesterday, the recently-instated President signed an executive order reversing Obama's decisions to halt the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines—two methods of transporting crude oil that have been vehemently opposed by environmental activists on the grounds that they may contaminate local water supplies, and will perpetuate the highly unsustainable oil industry by widely increasing its profit margins. (It's worth noting that Trump also has a controversial stake in the DAPL.)

More troubling, though, are the gag orders that Trump has issued against environmental agencies. On Friday, after retweeting posts that did not reflect well on the President's minuscule inauguration attendance, the main National Parks Service account was temporarily halted (the retweets were later deleted and apologized for). As if that weren't bad enough, on Monday, it was announced that Trump had issued orders preventing employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency from releasing information on social media and to reporters. Then, on Tuesday, the EPA was reportedly ordered to follow in the White House's footsteps and remove its information about climate change online. This move has EPA employees concerned about the loss of valuable data. One employee told Reuters, "If the website goes dark, years of work we have done on climate change will disappear."

Thankfully, the National Parks Service, ever our heroes, doesn't seem to be willing to go down without a fight. Following the decrees of censorship, the twitter account for the South Dakota Badlands began posting climate change facts. (They were later deleted, but still!). Today, the account for Death Valley started posting not-so-subtle historical facts about the Japanese internment camps held there during WWII.

To put these tweets in context, they come after this morning's reports that Trump will be issuing executive orders that follow through on his threats to build a wall on the Mexican border and slow down immigration. It's a subtle jab, but an effective one, pointing out the similarities between the President's stances on immigration and the internment camps of the 1940s (and they're not the first to do so). Basically, the resistance against Trump's war on climate change is being led by the National Park Service. Welcome to 2017.

The reasons you should be paying attention to Trump's actions are many, but it really boils down to these two key points. The first: it's a hallmark of dictators to not only silence those who disagree with them, but also prevent the public from being informed, and cut off their access to facts that prove their falsehoods. The right to education is a cornerstone of democracy, one that Trump seeks to wash away.

President Donald Trump signs one of five executive orders related to the oil pipeline industry in the oval office of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 24 January 2017. (Shawn Thew via CNP/MediaPunch)

Which brings us to the second point: The Trump administration's claims about climate change—namely that it doesn't exist—are false. For the third year in a row, the Earth has been the hottest in recorded history. And, for the first time in history, the carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere were at 400 parts per million on average for an entire year, which scientists have called a "symbolic threshold." And the list goes on. (NASA has a great breakdown of scientific evidence, which you should probably read before they're forced to remove it.)

Unfortunately, unlike social rights issues, it's more difficult to get people to care about climate change—a particularly discomforting reality, considering the damage Trump is capable of doing to the environment is irreversible (laws can be repealed, but sullied land can rarely be restored). The solution, then, is to actively educate yourself and those around you about issues relating to the environment, and how they can make their own personal steps toward helping the cause. Take to social media to voice your concerns. As new laws and edicts are introduced, question the motivations behind those who support them. Find a charity to donate money to—every little bit helps. And don't forget to screenshot!

Going Green is a column about issues relating to the environment and sustainability written by Digital Editor William Defebaugh, who studied journalism, creative writing, and environmental sciences as the University of Michigan. Follow him on Twitter here @willwrights

UP NEXT

Lily Aldridge and Andres Velencoso Take a Trip to Sicily for Salvatore Ferragamo