OpEd: America First Energy Plan Puts Global Environment at Risk

Dustin Zahm

“Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish has been caught, and the last stream poisoned, will we realize that we can’t eat money” – Cree Indian Proverb

For individuals that are concerned about the health and future sustainability of planet Earth we are living through troubling times. As scientists continually work to collect, analyze, and share data on important environmental issues it is becoming increasingly clear that a large majority of the population refuse to listen, or are unwilling to accept the conclusions that are drawn from leading scientific institutions. One of the most controversial environmental issues being faced is the effect human activities are having on climate change and global warming. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is made up of 1,300 scientific experts in the field, there is over a 95% likelihood that human activity is directly linked to the increase in global temperature the Earth is currently experiencing. This increase in global temperature is likely the largest threat currently facing the human population due to the wide ranging consequences that will result from it. Some of the expected consequences of climate change include an increase in the number and severity of droughts, an increase in global sea levels of approximately 1-4 feet by the year 2100, an increase in the intensity and number of hurricanes, and a reduction in the ability to grow food in certain areas of the planet (http://climate.nasa.gov/effects/).

In order to reduce or slow down the possible effects of climate change the entire world must work together to come up with solutions and implement these measures as soon as possible. Unfortunately the United States, which has been a leader in the global fight against climate change has recently reversed course, and it seems is now attempting to hinder the ability of scientists to collect data and communicate the findings to the general public without receiving approval from the new presidential administration. As one of the first acts of the new administration the White House website removed any mention of climate change and instead replaced it with an America First Energy Plan that will instead focus on “eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan” and “reviving America’s coal industry”. By removing these critical regulations and committing to an outdated and harmful form of energy production the United States will guarantee that it is no longer seen as a world leader on this issue, but is instead seen as a threat to the long-term viability of our planet. In another publication from Scientific American, one of the leading scientific journals available, there are reports from multiple employees at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that they have been ordered by the new presidential administration to remove their Climate Change webpage. This selective filtering, or scrubbing, of scientific data that contradicts a politician’s viewpoints must not be allowed to proceed if we would like to remain a society that is based on free speech and open access to factual information.

Opponents of policies such as the Climate Action Plan, will be quick to point out that the regulations that are included in the plan are costly and limit the amount of profit that can be made by corporations. However, when profit alone becomes the driving factor for all of our decisions the result will surely favor the few at the expense of the many. It is the responsibility of the entire human population to do our part and take responsibility to protect the environment not only for ourselves, but for all of the future generations that will come after us. I’ll finish by leaving you with a quote from The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”  

Dustin Zahm, A scientist that refuses to have his voice and facts taken away.