Ignoring climate facts, undermining science & attacking media hurts democracy

Intro

This week’s attempts by the Trump administration to hide the reality of climate change reveals the undemocratic, self-serving motivations held by the new US Commander-in-Chief and the party he leads. In a matter of days the inexperienced US President and his team have deleted climate change from the White House website, placed a gagging order on the Environmental Protection Agency, ordered the censorship of government employed scientists, lied about the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, and presented “alternative facts” to the press when challenged on outlandish and demonstrably wrong claims – prompting a surge in sales of George Orwell’s dystopian novel ‘1984’. These moves have already generated a massive reaction from scientists and democratic champions in the USA and abroad, as they are already having dire ramifications on two major pillars of democracy – science and a free press which are under siege by the already aggressively regressive administration.

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Key Points

  • Access to accurate climate science is a democratic necessity because only people armed with evidence and reason can make wise decisions to promote public health, safety and well-being. Taking away information that explains exactly how and why 2016 was the hottest year on record, that communities are being forced to relocate due to climate impacts, that harvests will suffer as weather patterns shift, and that the poor will become 70% poorer because of climate change puts people at a massive disadvantage – preventing them from developing plans to tackle this major threat to their prosperity and security.
  • Trump and his team are damaging the future health, safety and prosperity of the American people by undermining climate scientists and promoting ‘alternative facts’. This week’s efforts to control, alter and delete US climate science and policies put the spotlight on the well-covered links between this government administration, personal profit and the fossil fuel industry. Encouraging dirty energy development when renewables are growing faster, producing more jobs, and have a real future can only be justified by distorting the truth – we saw a similar distortion of the facts this this week from BP who attempted to paint a rosy future for oil and coal while downplaying the impact of the electric vehicle revolution.
  • Alt-facts are not facts. An agreed set of facts and a free press to hold the powerful to account are essential to a healthy democracy, and with the entire world threatened by climate change this has never been more important. Trump’s attacks on scientific institutions in the US have provoked a major reaction with scientists preparing a march on Washington D.C., another major climate march scheduled for April, State park’s joining the fray against a rogue administration, veterans, ranchers and indigenous groups preparing to defend against pipeline expansion, and a swathe of international objections including British MP’s instructing their leader to take President Trump to task on climate denial when they meet this Friday.

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QUOTES

  • “President Trump and his team are pursuing what I call a ‘control-alt-delete’ strategy: control the scientists in the federal agencies, alter science-based policies to fit their narrow ideological agenda, and delete scientific information from government websites.” – Alden Meyer, Director of Strategy and Policy at Union of Concerned Scientists
  • “Climate change is real. Its effects are visible today, and its causes are known. Trying to hide that information from the public doesn’t change it—it just makes it harder to work towards solutions, putting communities and generations to come at risk. – Ken Kimmell, President, Union of Concerned Scientists
  • “Every year BP has predicted a slowdown in renewable energy growth, and every year it has been wrong – but it’s done so again today. And BP says electric cars are going nowhere in the next 20 years, a view not shared by the car industry.” – Greg Muttitt, senior adviser at Oil Change International

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