Willson: Marching for science means little in the age of alternative facts

Lauren Willson

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

On April 22, over 600 rallies were held globally in a movement referred to as the “March for Science.” The intent behind the marches was simple: to express the public’s desire for government policy that reflects scientific consensus. However, actually implementing such alterations will be quite difficult due to the Trump Administration’s flagrant disregard for progressive scientific and technological policy, especially when it comes to climate change. But it’s fruitless to wait for the government to save the planet, because with men like Donald Trump in the White House, it’s simply never going to happen.

Coloradans are fortunate to live in a state where protecting nature’s beauty is a priority. Fort Collins serves as shining example, as our humble town recently adopted rigorous goals to minimize greenhouse gas emissions.

Even on a national level, most Americans support government policy that aims to mitigate global warming. A 2016 Yale study found that 82 percent of citizens believe we should fund research in renewable energy and an impressive 69 percent are in favor of regulating CO2 limits of coal-fueled power plants (both statistics are national averages).

Despite roaring consensus that action for protecting the planet should be taken, the policies of the Trump Administration thus far do not reflect these popular sentiments.

President Trump has been vocal in the past about his denial of the real causes of climate change. Most scientists agree that climate change is the result of a combination of natural atmospheric trends and human behavior (e.g. production of greenhouse gases). Yet Trump strays disconcertingly far from this popular opinion. In a Tweet, he blamed global warming on China, asserting the People’s Republic had fabricated the worldwide effect as a hoax to deter American manufacturing.

So it’s clear that Trump is not a subscriber to scientific consensus. But that’s why he has reliable advisors to help him on these technical matters, right? Wrong.

In a move that precipitated much backlash from environmentalists, Democrats and even laypeople, President Trump appointed Scott Pruitt, an attorney general of Oklahoma, to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

Pruitt is known for pushing 14 lawsuits against the EPA in an effort to block their regulations. He has bluntly stated he does not believe manmade carbon dioxide emissions contribute to global warming. As attorney general, Pruitt used state stationary to send letters of objection to federal agencies in protest of environmental protection guidelines. In a journalistic investigation by the New York Times, it was determined that these correspondences were largely crafted and influenced by oil and gas companies.

Why on earth (pun half-intended) would Trump appoint a climate change-denying lawyer with personal interests in the oil and gas industries to be the head of an agency that strives to decrease environmental destruction? Because scientific consensus (i.e. that the earth is changing) contradicts his own beliefs and he therefore believes he should discount it.

This is the problem with having an egotistical, borderline narcissist in the Oval Office. When making policy decisions, if a piece of information goes against what Trump has deemed best, he will brush it aside, thinking he is the only one with the right answers.

Trump has asserted that cutting 31 percent of current EPA funds and decreasing regulations on the fuel industry will somehow make our nation a better place. In particular, Trump has promised to revive the dying coal industry by relaxing regulatory restrictions. This requires dismantling the guidelines put in place by Obama’s Clean Power Plan, an admirable effort to curb carbon emissions by power-producing sectors. It seems that even as climate change continues to worsen, the only “science” our Prez heeds is that of economics.

Unfortunately, Trump’s promise to create jobs in a fast-fading business is not even fulfillable. Demand for coal has been declining for years and neglecting protection of the environment won’t affect that downward trend.

This blind optimism is yet another example of Trump’s disregard for science in favor of his own irrational beliefs.

I wish I could believe that the demonstrations of last Saturday will have a positive effect. I really do. I fear that every breath of fresh air, embodied in movements like the Women’s March and the March for Science, will quickly be tainted by the pollution of guys like Trump and Pruitt.

We cannot wait for the feds to save Mother Earth. With a self-deified egomaniac in the White House and a cabinet of ignorant acolytes, it seems we have two options remaining: a) place environmental protection into the hands of local governments and corporations or b) pack up our shit and move to Mars.

Lauren Willson can be reached at letters@collegian and online at @LaurenKealani