Remember when Trump’s people sent a 74-item questionnaire to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking, among other things, which employees had participated in conferences on climate change? Boy, that was scary, wasn’t it?
Since then we’ve had more scares involving the EPA and nasa and the National Park Service, agencies where none of the favorite ideologies of either Republicans or Democrats should dominate.
In particular, it does us no good as a nation to have the EPA run according to the teachings of the Bible. It is the U.S. equivalent of Lysenkoism.
Lysenkoism was a crackpot theory of natural evolution that rejected Darwinian natural selection as well as Mendel’s genetic theory in favor of a theory (of Trofim Lysenko) that seemed more in line with communist ideology. Stalin supported it, and the Soviets suppressed nearly all research counter to Lysenkoism under Stalin’s rule.
Late last month, EPA head Scott Pruitt wanted to explain a new policy at the agency. The policy makes it difficult for scientists to advise the EPA. On the face of it, it looks reasonable. You can’t advise the EPA if your research is funded by the EPA. Only one little problem: Almost all environmental research is currently funded by the EPA to some extent. So they might as well say, “Scientists need not apply.”
To explain this, Pruitt could have just said those three words: “conflict of interest.” And said, “talk to the hand” to anyone who said “yes, but ...”
Instead Pruitt called attention to Joshua 24:14-15, a passage in which Joshua calls for the Israelis to choose between the gods they recently left behind in Egypt and the (heathen) gods of the Amorites nearby. Joshua, of course, dramatically announces that he and his house choose the Lord.
That’s a really great passage, but how does Pruitt expect anyone to read that in the context of this policy decision?
One possible interpretation: The Israelites are supposed to represent the scientists, who have to choose between getting money from the EPA and advising the EPA. This interpretation would seem to require that I regard getting money from the EPA to do research as the moral equivalent of worshipping Osiris or Thoth. Whereas advising the EPA is the equivalent of cherishing the Lord of Abraham. Or the other way around.
That interpretation sucks toad knuckles.
The other interpretation is the dog-whistle interpretation. It is, I’m positive, the message that Pruitt is sending to the people whose support he cares about. Who are decidedly not scientists.
Recall that before February Pruitt was Oklahoma’s attorney general. Besides suing the EPA 14 times in that role, he also opposed abortion rights and same-sex marriage, and favored the dissemination of religious literature in public schools (guess which religion he had in mind).
Given who he is, it’s clear. He wants it understood that the scientists who support the hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming are turning their backs on the Lord. That’s the signal really being sent. Who advises the EPA is a red herring. Really, the EPA doesn’t need scientists advising it, they can get by just fine with an influx of biblical scholars.
Meanwhile, our planet is screwed. We are living on our planet. We are screwed.
It was a year ago that I mentioned that Arctic Ocean temperatures were scary high. There was a point there in fall of 2016 that the temperature around the North Pole was 36 degrees Fahrenheit above the previous 60-year average.
Apart from summers when the Arctic temperatures return to normal each year, the temperatures are still running consistently between 5 and 15 degrees Fahrenheit above the 60-year average (according to the Danish Meteorological Institute) throughout the other three seasons.
The higher temperatures predict an early end to the summer Arctic ice cap. As recently as 2013 the consensus was that would happen as soon as 2050. If the temperatures stay high I’m going to guess it will happen in my lifetime. I’m 68, so that’s saying something.
You millennials who want to see a polar bear, hurry up.
Or wait for Pruitt’s EPA to take action and check out the pair they get for the new ark.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor and three times homeless. He has been involved with Real Change since he supplied the art for the first cover in November of 1994. This is his weekly column Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd.
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