The gulf between Trump's administration policies and reality is most evident in his open war against illegal immigration and his furtive campaign against climate science.
Climate change is one of the most potent engines of illegal immigration, both directly (to escape floods, droughts and other climate-related disasters) and indirectly (flee violent conflicts caused by desperate competition for water, food and increasingly scarce arable land)
However, President Trump promises to contain the wave of illegal immigrants to the US. a "beautiful southern wall" while promoting anti-environmental policies that threaten to turn the wave into a tsunami with the power to crash on any wall it builds.
Last month, originally from Maine and former director of the US Department of the Interior. UU Office of Policy Analysis Joel Clement, speaking at Bates College, told the unsettling story of his futile battle against climate change deniers during his term. n the Trump administration.
Clement, an environmentalist with nearly seven years of service in the Department, examined and publicized the effects of climate change on more than 30 coastal communities native to Alaska, located on narrow tracts of land flooded by increased land use. levels of the ocean, the thawing of permafrost and the fusion of protective sea ice.
But in June 2017, Clement was reassigned by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, a Trump nominee, from a job that oversees 25 analysts and economists to a position without any staff in an office accounting oil and gas royalties in Oklahoma.
Clement maintains that the reassignment was intended to pressure him to resign, which he did in October. He has filed a complaint with the Office of the US Special Advisor. UU., Affirming that his reassignment violated federal whistleblower protections.
Clement is just one of the top interior executives who have received similar treatment. In the Environmental Protection Agency, which has overlapping responsibilities for climate change issues, Administrator Scott Pruitt banned scientists whose research was being funded by the EPA to be part of its scientific advisory boards, which stripped the Agency of much of the of your best scientific talent.
Clement has been direct in his criticism of the Trump administration and the Republican Party. In his speech at Bates, he accused them of becoming a "volunteer host" of climate change deniers and a shill for the oil and gas industries. Climate change, he said, "is real, it's dangerous and we're causing it." Maine, he said, was "at the forefront of the climate impact in the lower 48 states."
Even those who stubbornly refuse to accept the almost universal scientific consensus that current climate trends are driven mainly by the burning of fossil fuels can not ignore that the planet is warming, polar and glacial ice is melting, sea levels rise, coasts are eroded, deserts are widening and extreme weather events are more severe. These changes are making large tracts of land uninhabitable and expelling its inhabitants.
In "Rising Tides: Climate Refugees in the 21st Century" (available from the Auburn Public Library), authors John R. Wennersten and Denise Robbins present the case that these phenomena are already responsible for a mass movement of refugees , both internally and across international borders, which are overwhelming resources and accentuate political and social systems in many countries. They advocate sustained international efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions (such as the Paris Climate Treaty 2015, which Trump repudiated) and to strengthen organizations, such as the United Nations, whose mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and possibly resettle climate refugees in (19659002) Researchers have estimated that currently around 25 million people have been forced to leave their homes due to climate change, and the UN estimates that number will increase to 50 million by 2020. Even those who apparently fleeing from political conflict are often, in the final analysis, climate refugees.
Beginning in 2014, for example, a wave of refugees trying to escape the Syrian Civil War expanded dramatically in Middle Eastern countries and Europe, sparking a backlash against immigration. However, this migration, according to Wennersten and Robbins, was an indirect result of a drought in Russia and China in 2009-2010, which led to a global increase in wheat prices, food shortages in the Middle East and Africa. North, and ultimately, the popular uprisings known as Arab Spring.
In Somalia, the drought induced by drought and flash floods, together with political violence, have displaced more than 1 million people, thousands of whom have reached communities in the US. UU as Lewiston.
Closer to home, in areas affected by drought in the so-called Dry Corridor of Central America, west of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica, poor harvests have driven hundreds of thousands of refugees north from Mexico to the United States. Threat of starvation, instead of (as Trump's narrative would have it) motives of murder, rape and drug trafficking, has caused caravans of men, women and children to attempt the dangerous journey.
However, Trump persists in the creation of a border wall with Mexico (whose cost is estimated between $ 10 and $ 15 billion), while promoting policies that exacerbate the climatic causes of mass migrations, such as the increase in offshore drilling areas; relaxation of mining regulations; and not participating in international efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Instead of seeking funding for a costly wall that will inevitably be bypassed, Trump should promote spending to prevent climate change and work with other governments and international agencies to remedy its impact.
But it is unlikely to happen in an administration that deals with scientific research on climate change, such as conventional journalism, as "false news".
Elliott Epstein is a litigator with Andrucki & King in Lewiston. His column Rearview Mirror, which appeared in the Sun Journal for 10 years, analyzes current events in a historical context. He is also the author of "Lucifer & # 39; s Child", a book about the notorious child murder in 1984 of Angela Palmer. He can be contacted at email@example.com