The Green Movement Is Our planet’s Last Best Hope


This article was written by Communications Director for the DC Statehood Green Party Justin McCarthy and originally appeared in The Hill.

Earlier this month, former head of President Donald Trump’s EPA transition team Myron Ebell made the bold claim that the environmental movement is "the greatest threat to freedom and prosperity in the modern world.”

We’ll call that “alternative fact number one.”

The truth? Generously funded by the likes of Exxon-Mobil and other dark-money donors, Myron Ebell has a decades-long history of pushing climate denial, trumpeting dirty fossil fuels and flat out lying.

Of the 17 hottest years on record, 16 have occurred in the 21st century and projections by dozens of government agencies, including NASA, say that annual median temperatures could rise by as much as 5.3 degrees by the end of the century if countries across the world don't take action.

Exxon knew in the 1980s and President Trump and Myron Ebell know today: climate change is real, it’s happening and there is no “Planet B.” Those are not alternative facts but sobering truths.

In the 30 years Gallup Poll has asked the question, Americans have almost always chosen the environment over economic growth as a priority by a 50 percent-to-41 percent margin.

President Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Republicans (and even some Democrats) have called for a need to carefully balance environmental regulation with the precepts of economic growth (“alternative fact number two”).

The economic benefits derived from tackling climate change strongly justify early action. A “Green New Deal” is the future of economic and job growth in this country and around the world, not dirty fossil fuels. In 2015, one out of every 78 new jobs created in the U.S. was in the solar industry. That is a staggering number. SolarCity, one of the largest installer of residential solar systems in the U.S., nearly doubled its own workforce alone last year, hiring over 4,000 workers in fields from system design and site surveys to engineering and traditional installation.

With the foresight to recognize that we live on a finite planet with finite resources, the 21st century economy can be one driven by green technologies. Revenue-neutral carbon taxes could kick start investment in such initiatives as geo-engineering and reforestation. But time is running out.

Donald Trump campaigned on one of the most reactionary and anti-environmental platforms in history and has already made clear of his intent to eliminate the Clean Power Plan, which uses the Clean Air Act to regulate power plants. Trump has also indicated his plans to push forward with hydraulic fracking across vast swaths of the country, and, perhaps most dishearteningly, to withdraw from the landmark Paris climate change deal to which 196 nations agreed in 2015.

“I expect President Trump to be very assiduous in keeping his promises,” Ebell said in December 2015, in reference to the Paris Agreement. 

Although the Paris Agreement dictates that any member country wishing to withdraw must wait four years from the date of ratification, the speed and blatant, unconstitutional disregard of legal proceedings that characterized President Trump’s first week in office give us no reason not to take Ebell and President Trump at their word.

Unfortunately, the disaster does not stop there. Lying in wait is Trump’s pick for EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, whose track record on climate change would make even Myron Ebell blush with envy. As Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt had a habit of taking press releases from local oil and gas companies, stamping his letterhead across the top and passing them on to the EPA verbatim as the official position of Oklahoma.

The American public cannot and will not stand idly by and watch a Trump administration packed with fossil fuel lobbyists and billionaires like Rex Tillerson, Scott Pruitt and Rick Perry systematically demolish every environmental regulation since World War II in the span of fewer than four years.

In order to resist, we have to recognize how we got here in the first place. The election of Donald Trump was not a Republican victory; rather, it was a failure of our broken bipartisan system. Our bipartisan system is the very reason why so many people in this country feel so justifiably left behind – black and white, young and old, urban and rural alike.

Step two is to organize. Call your local, state and congressional representatives early and often. 

Occupy Inauguration and the Women’s Marches that took place across the country and across the world were nearly unprecedented in scale, but we cannot risk losing that momentum. For many people, it may have been their first ever protest. In these challenging times, participation at the local and state level is more important than ever. We must work to turn this momentum into real action and build alternative structures of power.

Last but not least, if you think you could do a better job, run for office. Any official who still denies the very real dangers of climate change lacks the requisite intelligence to hold public office or is actively involved in a scheme to defraud the American public.

Justin McCarthy is Spokesperson and Communications Director for the DC Statehood Green Party. 

The article originally appeared in The Hill.

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