A Weekly Roundup of Politics: EPA Rollbacks, Greta Thunberg, and Hurricane Dorian

08.30.2019 Arts & Culture
Ann Lewis
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EPA Guts the Environment Again

This week, the Trump Administration continued to roll back environmental regulations put in place by former Presidents and members of Congress, unraveling a rule that required oil and gas companies to report methane emissions. Since taking office, Trump has deregulated or scraped over 80 different ecological protections that have taken decades to pass. He has implemented jaw-dropping moves like ending water pollution guidelines for fracking on state and Native lands, revoking a law that banned mining companies from dumping mining waste into local streams, and repealing an Obama-era regulation that required federal infrastructure projects to take climate change issues such as sea-level rise into account when building roads and bridges. This list is just a small sampling of moves that set back our collective wellbeing. 

Surprisingly, some oil and gas companies are countering the move saying they have no interest in making the environment less safe. 

Companies like BP and Exxon have urged the Trump Administration to keep the regulations in place — which makes one wonder if we have turned such a significant corner that environmental advocates and Exxon actually agree on disagreeing with the President?

Meanwhile, the Amazon is still ablaze from clearing fires set by people encouraged by Brazil’s President Jair Bolsanaro to develop the region for farming. The fires continue to blaze after Bolsanaro refused aid from several of the G7 nations after a public tantrum and spat with French President Emmanuel Macron. Trump attended the G7 summit this week and was notably absent from the climate crisis meetings after pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord on June 1, 2017. 

Greta Thunberg Lands in NYC

Meanwhile, Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden landed at Coney Island in New York City after crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a carbon-neutral boat. The two-week journey across the ocean was to draw attention to the excessive carbon emissions that air travel creates. Estimated at 11% of America’s carbon emissions, air travel is something people can trim or counter with carbon offsets

Thunberg is set to address the UN Climate Summit next week. When she landed in New York, she made this statement:

“The climate and ecological crisis is a global crisis and the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced. If we don’t manage to cooperate and work together despite our differences, we will fail. We need to stand together and support each other and take action or it might be too late. Let’s not wait any longer — let’s do it now.”

As national leaders like Trump and Bolsanaro ignore the climate crisis, it’s literally taking a teenager to lead the world from imminent climate disaster. Let’s hope the adults in the room start acting like adults.  

Hurricane Dorian

To add insult to environmental injury, Hurricane Dorian, which spared Puerto Rico, is estimated to make landfall near Port Lucie, Florida on Monday afternoon as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane. Warming waters in the Carribean Sea and favorable upper-level winds are fueling this early storm. Peak winds are estimated at 120 mph which are expected to create catastrophic damage. While predicting the path of hurricanes is notoriously tricky, Dorian has all the ingredients to be a powerful storm. (Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and its surrounding areas in 2005, made landfall as a Category 3 Hurricane and caused over $100 billion in damage and claimed over 1500 lives.)

If Dorian does hit Florida, it will be the fourth hurricane in four years to make landfall in Florida, which hasn’t happened since 1944-1950, when seven consecutive years of hurricanes made landfall along the Florida coast. 

While the storm’s trajectory is currently unknown, Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency. He did so “to ensure local governments and emergency management agencies have ample time, resources, and flexibility to get prepared.” Let’s hope Florida dodges another climate crisis bullet — there seems to be a lot of them these days. 

Ann Lewis is an artist, activist, and writer based in Detroit. Her artwork reflects upon social and environmental justice issues.

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