I happen to believe that history will judge kindly those who continued to shout, from the rooftops, through their own weariness and against the corrosive drift of conformity: This is not normal!” – Charles M. Blow, New York Times, December 19, 2016
The Grand Rapids Community Sustainability Partnership (CSP), of which I am a part, has been committed to the practice of sustainability since our inception in 2005. We hold that no community—or business, or institution—can long be sustained if it does not pay attention to sensible economic growth, fair play and social equity, and the preservation of the natural environment.
We rely on science and proven practice even as we remain open to new approaches and innovations. We demand transparency of ourselves and others. We know that only in an environment of trusting relationships can innovation take deep root and advance a people.
With this in mind, I say to the incoming Trump Administration:
IT IS NOT NORMAL FOR YOU TO IGNORE THE SCIENCE BEHIND CLIMATE CHANGE AND PRACTICE BUSINESS AS USUAL THINKING. Make no mistake, this cannot be sustained.
The 45th President of the United States has openly stated, during the campaign, that climate change is a hoax; even attributing this so-called hoax to the Chinese. Even though he has said little more on the subject since his election, Mr. Trump has used his appointments to assemble a bevy of climate deniers poised to roll back the enormous progress of the past eight years.
I served with 23 other mayors, governors, and tribal leaders on President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Resiliency and Community Preparedness. I saw—and shared—the passion of these men and women for protecting our communities against the ravages of climate change.
WE SHARED STORIES OF DROUGHT AND FLOOD, OF RISING OCEANS AND VANISHING COASTLINES, OF HEAT WAVES AND EXTREME STORMS.
The best scientists of our day hold that climate change is real and that it is largely the result of human activity.
It is not normal to deny this reality.
And yet, that is exactly what the incoming Trump Administration is poised to do in the coming years.
Let’s start with Scott Pruitt who, as EPA Administrator, would have, perhaps, the most influence on climate policy. Mr. Pruitt, Oklahoma’s Attorney General with deep ties to the fossil fuel industry, has long sought to restrict what he calls “the regulatory overreach” of the EPA. He has publicly stated that the science behind climate change is not convincing.
Ryan Zinke has been tapped for Department of Interior. A freshman representative from Montana, Mr. Zinke is expected to reverse outgoing Interior Secretary Jewell’s commitment to blocking oil and gas drilling and freezing leases for logging and mining on federal lands.
Chosen to head the Department of Energy is Rick Perry, former Texas Governor who famously said that were he elected President he would close the Department of Energy. Under Perry the focus of the Department will shift from renewables to fossil fuels.
Finally, as Secretary of State Mr. Trump has chosen Rex Tillerson, Exxon Mobil CEO. Putting the internationally-brokered Paris Climate Accords in Mr. Tillerson’s hands would suggest that Mr. Trump intends—as he stated as a candidate—to cancel this agreement, notwithstanding Mr. Tillerson’s testimony to the contrary.
In December 2015, I joined 37 other US Mayors in Paris for the United Nations Climate Conference.
We stood with 600 other Mayors of the world in urging the diplomats to adopt the most rigorous standards.
Why? Because we have studied the science of climate change and we have experienced its impacts first-hand. Our voices were heard and the diplomats adopted a strong, science-based agreement signed by 192 nations.
It is not normal to cancel good-faith agreements among nations.
Everyone committed to sustainability, every clear-thinking American who wants to protect our world and each other, everyone—regardless of political ideology—who wants to pass on a better world to their children should now be shouting from the rooftops:
“THIS IS NOT NORMAL!”
It is not normal to ignore science. It is not normal to put the EPA and the Departments of Interior and Energy in the hands of men sworn to neuter these important regulators. It is not normal to load a Cabinet with picks who are deep in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry…unless your intention is to accelerate fossil fuel development at the expense of clean, renewable energy. It is not normal to do away with an agreement based on clear-headed science and reached through a thoughtful international process. It is not normal, and it is not sustainable.
I’m ready to join Mr. Blow on the rooftop and shout until I’m hoarse of the serious consequences of the anticipated Trump Administration assault on the environment. I fear I’ll have much to shout about but I know I won’t be alone. Millions of Americans are dedicated to leaving a sustainable planet for the generations that will follow us.
IF YOU HAVEN’T CLAIMED YOUR ROOFTOP SPACE YET, NOW IS THE TIME.
You could start very simply by responding to this post. Tell me what roof you’ll be shouting from. Then pass this along through your networks and let’s put up such a holler that it will be heard from sea to shining sea. THIS IS NOT NORMAL!
Written by George K. Heartwell on January 19, 2016. George served as Mayor of Grand Rapids, MI for twelve years from 2004-2015. In his retirement, George remains active within the West Michigan community and serves on the Michigan LCV Board of Directors.
Cover photo via Flickr.com: http://bit.ly/2k7SSEu