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The National Climate Assessment and National Park Neglect

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Photo by Esther Lee | CC BY 2.0

Every four years the federal government issues its National Climate Assessment, a comprehensive study compiled by 13 federal agencies. This year’s report is the most eventful of all time for two primary reasons: (1) the congressionally mandated report is filled with powerful evidence that climate change is already significantly impacting lives. In short, anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change is really for real; (2) the report requires approval by the office of the president of the United States, which is kinda like asking OJ if he did it.

When Forbes magazine, the bastion of capitalism, runs this headline: “Leaked Government Report Points To Dire Impact Of Climate Change On US,” even conservatives take notice that climate change is real. After all, Forbes magazine is an elementary feature on tabletops in every U.S. corporate foyer. If it is missing from a tabletop, it’s only because somebody lifted it.

The referenced Forbes’ article d/d August 8th includes a photo caption of Trump wearing a very long red tie and standing next to Scott Pruitt of EPA fame, speaking at the presidential podium. Trump looks grouchy, mean-spirited, and acerbic. Pruitt appears elfin and about to whimper under the piercing gaze of his big orange overseer. It’s not presidential in the slightest. Which is probably good because it’s the moment when EPA’er Scott Pruitt announces US withdrawal from the Paris accord of 2015.

From that point forward, the United States of America loses its worldwide leadership role. China has already filled the climate change void. Ersatz Communists, assuming a few thousand multi-millionaires are really/truly Communists leaders, now lead the charge against the destructive forces of global warming.

Meanwhile, America must grapple with a National Climate Assessment Report that is law by Congress pending approvement by the president, leading to an astute hedging of one’s bets by an unknown source that leaked the government report to The New York Times, upstaging backstairs cut and paste parties at the West Wing.

Ultimately, as well as truly unfortunately, the climate assessment report usage turns political. After all, politics, not science, rules America’s posture on climate change/global warming. In that regard, and the reason for concern and the subsequent covert release to the NYT, the current National Climate Assessment Report is a political diatribe of horrible judgment (to put it kindly) by climate deniers aka: Congress. Well, in point of fact, it scathingly hits hard at America’s political posturing of climate change/global warming, right between the eyes, POW!

The upshot of the 600-page report is that only a shortsighted dimwit can ignore powerful conclusive evidence of the harmful effects of anthropogenic or human-caused global warming. Here’s part of the Executive Summary, crystal clear:

Thousands of studies conducted by tens of thousands of scientists around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; disappearing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea level; and an increase in atmospheric water vapor. … The last few years have also seen record-breaking, climate-related weather extremes, as well as the warmest years on record for the globe.

The key to that bold assessment is natural variability missing from the calculations of current climate change. If natural variability was the cause, nothing could be done. However, it is clear that anthropogenic or human-caused CO2 from cars, planes, factories, livestock farming, cement production, and deforestation is the deadly force. The proof is found in paleoclimatology, or the history of climate change, which shows climate change/global warming happening at lightning speed compared to any time in the past. That’s not natural variability.

Repercussions are far and wide. For the first time ever, climate refugees from rising water limits or drought-stricken land populates the world in large numbers, e.g., refugees overwhelm Europe from the southern coast of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, both areas drying out as fast as or faster than anywhere else on the planet. American taxpayers have already paid, via federal grants, to move climate refugees to higher grounds along the Gulf Coast and some urban areas along Florida’s east coast are raising streets by 2-to-3 feet. Climate change is palpable.

Human-caused climate change today is more pronounced than ever before, yet ignored by America’s Congress. That is strike one against America’s shortsighted politicians. Strike two is in the works as National Parks are soon to be added to that same mix of mean-spirited politics. Along the way, hopefully, the American public gets off its fat lazy butt and strikes back with ferocity, hitting the streets. Thankfully, this has already started in America, people striking back at senseless mean-spirited politics.

America’s National Parks Under Attack

The same political nitwit mentality that denies climate change/global warming is preparing to wreck America’s precious national parks, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon. The National Parks are under fire with drastic cutbacks whilst opening land up to speculators, similar to the Wild West days of the 19th century. Say goodbye to America’s national parks because you may not recognize them in a few years.

The Ralph Nader Radio Hour, August 19th, guest Terry Tempest Williams, naturalist author (The Hour of Land, Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2017) explained how over 300 million citizens and foreign tourists visited 417 national park units, including monuments, trails, historical monuments, and points of interest in 2016. But, according to Ms. Williams, paradoxically the Trump administration has a very rudimentary understanding of hospitality.

According to Ms. Williams, the budget for national parks, which is already underfunded, will be slashed by another 17% by Trump. “What that means is it is underemployed; it’s understaffed; to use the word undernourished is an understatement.” There are 22,000 employees in the national park service and 200,000 volunteers. According to Ms. Williams, the Trump budget plan will let our national parks and park service “bleed to death.”

The National Parks’ budget is about $3B per year, but “that is a pittance compared to what we spend on our military, and yet Trump is cutting it… Not only that they are slashing and burning regulations in order to drill baby drill. We now have 40 of our national parks that are poised for oil and gas development; thirty of those national parks are already pending for oil and gas development; 15 of our national park units already have oil and gas development inside them.”

The National Park Service, in an article by Center for Western Priorities entitled “In Their Own Words,” explains the impact of the proposed crippling cuts of President Trump’s budget. According to the article written by Jesse Prentice-Dunn, Advocacy Director/Center for Western Priorities, Denver: “The proposed budget would increase funding for energy development on public lands while cutting virtually everything else, including the National Park Service.”

“This budget makes clear that the Trump administration’s priority is driving the crown jewel of our public lands, the National Park Service, into the ground while freeing up funds for oil, gas and coal development,” Ibid.

It is well beyond upper levels of insanity and mean-spiritedness when, on the one hand, funding is cut for national parks as public lands open up to oil and gas drilling whilst, on the other hand, preaching “Make America Great Again”… again and again and again and again and again, loud, yelling, screaming, yelping, and screeching like a foaming-at-the-mouth maddened dog, Make America Great Again!

Does somebody with authority have a readily available straitjacket?

More articles by:

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at roberthunziker@icloud.com

CounterPunch Magazine


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