There is a new Big Man on Campus, and this past week, hailing from the utmost position of global power, President Trump, surrounded by unemployed coal miners, demonstrated his skill at seizing the mantle of supreme leader. Ensconced in the Oval Office, holding court behind his desk, the Resolute, (yes, all desks in The White House have names) Trump reviewed his order demanding the Environmental Protection Agency dismantle, without haste, the Clean Power Plan. With a swipe of a pen, another policy implemented by former President Obama disappeared into the perpetually depleting ozone as Ralph Nader wept.
As you may recall, Nader has been on the front lines of the war to save the planet for five decades. A brilliant thinker, in the rumpled style of the high school science teacher, the octogenarian has been the go-to-guy for soundbites on all matters geared toward saving the planet. His style is not one to attract the mainstream, and frankly, most people just tune his rhetoric out.
But the lack of popularity is not why global warming, or the root of the problem, climate change, is losing ground. It’s not the scarcity of educated Americans, as many scientists championing the environmental cause believe. (And don’t Liberals love to paint Trump supporters as all white, mouth-breathing, middle-aged, confederate flag waving men with colossal beer bellies?) Most Americans believe in the scientific findings of climate change. It’s the degree of immediacy that skews the curve on the subject.
Animals, with man self-proclaimed as the preeminent beast in the food chain, are hard-wired with fight or flight instincts when imminent threats are clear. Climate change has not conjured up a looming just around the corner timeline for Americans to engage the pep squad into rallying the troops for battle.
And part and parcel, Americans fall victim to the belief that ‘it only happens to other people’—until it does happen and affects them in a dramatic way.
With all threatening tribulations, someone must be blamed, called out as a bully, and beaten in the schoolyard after the last bell. All wars need a sworn enemy–the poster-child for the cause. That, dear friends, is another reason for the apathetic response to climate change. Just whom or what is to blame—Mother Nature, man or God?
There have been five significant ice ages recorded by the scientific community. An ice age is a period of cooling temperatures of the earth’s atmosphere and surfaces. The first, according to the beakers and Bunsen-burner crowd, began 2.6 billion years ago—it happened all by itself, without the aid of man. Just a few hundred million years later, it gradually warmed up enough for the Homo Sapiens, with their bone needles and knuckle-dragging clans, to become the dominant planet animal. Considering the billions of years to become this gas guzzling, earth fracking, environmental disaster, many people deem both our abuses and our attempts to correct our greedy ways, have little to zero impact on climate change.
Even the canniest of chess players can’t anticipate moves 2.6 million years in advance.
For decades, the scientific community has issued dire warnings on aerosol sprays, insecticides, Freon and especially energy production and use. Regulations have mushroomed, and some will claim they have crippled the economies that have relied on coal, natural gas and oil for over a century. Grudgingly, Americans swapped out their Aquanet aerosol canned hair lacquer for the pump bottle. Auto manufacturers got busy fussing with distribution systems for their cooling systems to slow the consumption of Freon, and the ever industrious and pioneering nature of those long-ago immigrants and pioneers, have developed alternative fuels and energies. That’s what good global citizens do—rise to the occasion.
However, in their zeal to be crowned the savior of the earth, the last administration and the Democratic presidential frontrunner, vowed to eradicate several energy economies they deemed unnecessary. The backlash from Americans was palpable, as they scratched their heads, and wondered why the baby was being tossed out with the bathwater. Why indeed? Would it not make more sense to have alternative sources—solar, wind, hamsters on a giant wheel–pumping out enough juices to fuel our homes, our vehicles and our economic needs before we whack coal and gas enterprises?
America’s immediate priorities do not include climate change. What has been listed are the economy, jobs, terrorism, human rights, and government corruption. Oh, and Russia. Putin is definitely on the list. (Am I the only one when saying Putin sings ‘on the Ritz’ immediately after? He seems less menacing in song.)
But have heart, my blue state warriors, with the dismantling of the Clean Power Plan, comes a loophole that legally requires Trump and the EPA to come up with another plan. Although a bit murky in the details and timeframe, the new plan is required to follow the Office of the Federal Register’s rulemaking guidelines. This should make the unpopular crowd cheer and give Nader’s new raiders a reason to staunch their tears.
The Big Man on Campus is shaking up our elite social cliques, and although not welcomed by everyone, he does have a way of motivating the people on the sidelines to get into the game. We may be doomed, but environmental Armageddon is not at the top of America’s course outline for success this year.