Dear Mr Pruitt,
Congratulations on your confirmation as the head of the EPA. I have no doubt that you’ll labor as hard to work your wondrous ways on the environment of the United States as you did in your home state of Oklahoma, the capital of fracking-induced earthquakes. I’m fascinated to hear — as you so pertinently observed during your confirmation hearing — that “the climate is changing, and human activity contributes to that in some manner”. In what manner, precisely? And what are YOU proposing to do about it given your new position as the immensely empowered custodian-in-chief of our environment? Perhaps the further evisceration of clean air and water laws, and the removal of controls on massively polluting fossil fuel industries while the scientists bicker it out? The scientists who, according to you, are widely divided on issues of climate change — a division which happens, by the way, to be a totally discredited fabrication: they’re not divided at all, except perhaps for a handful of scientists who are directly in the pay of the industries to whom serious enforcement and strengthening of environmental laws might prove inconvenient.
Speaking of which, I’m fascinated by the coincidence that over the years you’ve received over $270,000 in campaign contributions from those very industries that you’ve been seeking to liberate. American politics is a beautiful thing.
But cutting to the chase — seriously, sir: do you REALLY want to be remembered for posterity (if you’re remembered at all, that is), as that single, pivotally positioned individual who, at this critical juncture, squandered the opportunity to stanch the tide of environmental destruction, and instead actually accelerated those forces? This isn’t the 19th century: despite what you and your monied cronies might expediently “believe”, many of the causes and culprits of environmental devastation are well known and documented, and their dismal trajectories projected to have increasingly disastrous effects on our world. Are we the main culprits? Possibly not. But unlike the Chinese, and even the Indians, who are trying to wrestle with their own growth imperatives within the context of maintaining populations capable of actually breathing the air in their cities, we are REVERSING course! How incredible, after decades of cleaner air and water, an era in which rivers haven’t actually burst into flames, that you would choose to lead the charge in the opposite direction.
A few simple questions: what are you suggesting that your own grandchildren and great-grandchildren might breathe after you’re gone? Would you like them to enjoy vacations on beaches in places that we currently associate beaches with, like Florida? Or would you be just as happy if those beaches were now lapping at the foothills of the Appalachians? Do you attach any importance to their being able to visit places where elephants, giraffes, lions and tigers roam? And more pointedly: would you be comfortable in the knowledge that the degradation of habitats globally, resulting in the enormous dislocation to vulnerable populations around the world (exacerbated by YOUR policies) will inevitably result in the massive migration of those populations to places perceived to be marginally more inhabitable, thereby creating tensions and pressures that we’re only starting to glimpse with the current, initial waves of climate refugees?
Do any of these things even occur to you? Or are you and your grubby little industrial cronies happy to squander what remains in the quest for greater profits? A wise man (Stewart Brand — go Google him) once said “We are as gods, so we might as well get good at it”. I’m not sure which god you’re modeling yourself after, sir, but it sure isn’t one familiar to any of the religious denominations which YOU spend so much time piously trying to defend.
I’m not much for religion myself these days, but I’ll make an exception in this case: God help us.
(this was originally published in Medium)