April 24, 2017 greenhoper 3Comment

The environment is about to take center stage in American politics — a rare but potentially transformative moment in the brief, brown history of the Trump administration.

On 22nd April and again next weekend, tens of thousands of people are expected to participate in March for Science, environment-oriented marches at the Washington Mall and around the country. First, they’ll protest President Donald Trump’s proposed science budget cuts and urge Trump to take science into account when making policy decisions on the environment and research. Next week, the goal is to raise awareness about global warming in the wake of Trump’s move to erase environmental rules on coal power and as Trump ponders the United States’ future in the Paris Climate Accord.

Though the marches are being led by scientists and their closest supporters, the cause — the environment — could become a key driver for a much broader cohort of people who oppose the Trump administration and GOP’s efforts to promote carbon-oriented economics over environmental progress. While global warming and the environment in general have become wedge issues over the past two decades, polling and election results show environment often generates more argument than actual votes.

Cindy Calisher of Fullerton begins to color in her sign as she prepares for the April 22 “March for Science” during a sign making party at the Hibbleton Art Gallery in Fullerton on Wednesday, April 19, 2017. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Jeannie Gillette made a sign for an upcoming March for Science. About a dozen demonstrators were holding a sign-making party at the Irvine Ranch Water District in Irvine, CA on Friday, April 14, 2017. (Photo by Bill Alkofer,Orange County Register/SCNG))

Jessy LaTour, co-owner of the the Hibbleton Art Gallery makes a sign in preparation for the April 22 “March for Science” at a sign making party gallery in Fullerton on Wednesday, April 19, 2017. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Tens of thousands of people are expected to participate this weekend in environment-oriented marches at the Washington Mall and around the country. Above, members of the scientific community, environmental advocates, and supporters demonstrate Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017, in Boston, to call attention to what they say are the increasing threats to science and scientific research under the administration of President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Pro-science activists prepare for the April 22 “March for Science” at a sign making party at the Hibbleton Art Gallery in Fullerton on Wednesday, April 19, 2017. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Andy Lewandowski starts work on his fourth sign. About a dozen demonstrators were holding a sign-making party at the Irvine Ranch Water District in Irvine, CA on Friday, April 14, 2017. (Photo by Bill Alkofer,Orange County Register/SCNG)

Andy Lewandowski starts work the first of his four signs. About a dozen demonstrators were holding a sign-making party at the Irvine Ranch Water District in Irvine, CA on Friday, April 14, 2017. (Photo by Bill Alkofer,Orange County Register/SCNG)

Cindy Calisher of Fullerton begins to color in her sign as she prepares for the April 22 “March for Science” during a sign making party at the Hibbleton Art Gallery in Fullerton on Wednesday, April 19, 2017. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Jeannie Gillette made a sign for an upcoming March for Science. About a dozen demonstrators were holding a sign-making party at the Irvine Ranch Water District in Irvine, CA on Friday, April 14, 2017. (Photo by Bill Alkofer,Orange County Register/SCNG))

Jeannie Gillette made a sign for an upcoming March for Science. About a dozen demonstrators were holding a sign-making party at the Irvine Ranch Water District in Irvine, CA on Friday, April 14, 2017. (Photo by Bill Alkofer,Orange County Register/SCNG))

Now, that could be changing. Just as two generations of Christian conservatives have been politically animated by the issue of abortion, a similar number of progressives view global warming as an existential threat and, when combined with Trump’s policies and attitudes, they could be ready to mobilize in a similar fashion.

“Bottom line, when you say the word ‘environment’ and ask people if they care about the environment you get an 80 percent answer they do,” said former U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer who served on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. “I think it’s a very important issue in the political world.”

Environment could be a particularly strong driver for new voters and those just now entering the political process.

“Young people really understand this,” Boxer said.

The role of environment as a political catalyst has been bumpy. Once considered largely apolitical, scientists, as a potential voting bloc, only began wading into politics after Trump’s surprise election and some key events that followed his inauguration.

It started for some the week Trump took office and government-run websites devoted to fighting climate change vanished from the White House and State Department.

On inauguration day, workers at the National Park Service used Twitter to share an image of the crowd at Trump’s swearing in, contrasting it with the much bigger crowds that gathered for President Barack Obama’s inaugurations. The move was met with hostility from the new administration which, in turn, spurred new “rogue” accounts from scientists and park rangers tweeting information about climate change.

Beyond the symbolic, however, the Trump administration also has taken steps viewed as pushing the country away from fighting global warming. The White House has frozen federal grant spending related to greenhouse gas reductions and halted government workers from sharing related information with the media. Trump also has proposed budget cuts to the Environmental Protect Agency, NASA and other institutions, and threatened to vastly reduce funding for all scientific research.

It’s all served as a spur for scientists to become politically organized.

“For the science march, especially, it’s a reaction to the presidential administration,” said UC Irvine ecology professor Kathleen Treseder who is attending the March for Science and organizing the People’s Climate March slated for April 29 in Irvine.

“We’re running out of time to deal with with climate change,” Treseder added. “We can’t wait on the next administration to take action. We have to do it now.”

The March for Science in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 22 – scheduled to coincide with Earth Day – is expected to be the second biggest outside the national march on Washington, D.C. About 50,000 demonstrators are expected to meet at Perishing Square in Downtown Los Angeles.

“This is ridiculous,” Boxer said. “For me, as an American who grew up in all the years of the greatest years of scientific discoveries, that scientists have to march is shocking. The majority of people don’t see scientists as political. They see them as truth tellers. it’s just sad to me that scientists have to march, but I’m glad they are.”

The marches will serve as a means to spread the word about scientific discoveries happening at institutions around the country, hopefully bringing together politicians and researchers.

“There’s always been a gap between science and policy,” said Rebecca Fuoco, the director of media relations for the March for Science in Los Angeles who works in healthcare research. “We’re hoping this march will be a starting point to bridge that gap.”

Other marches in Southern California are scheduled to be held on the campus of UC Riverside and in front of Fullerton city hall where scientists are expected to share their research with the general public and local politicians.

For some scientists, it’s an uncomfortable role.

“We’re not so much a warrior people,” said Jeff D. Rosenblum, an organizer of the Fullerton march and Cal State Fullerton student studying economics, of the scientific community.

“We value our intellectual abilities. We value science.”

That’s not a value widely shared by the current power brokers in Washington.

“(Science policies) are not high on our Republican Party list of priorities right now,” said Fred Whitaker, the chairman of the Republican Party of Orange County. “There is a debate going on over climate science and what to fund and what not to fund. Jobs and the economy and fixing healthcare are the biggest domestic priorities.”

Another party leader and former chairman of the Orange County Republican Party, Scott Baugh, sees the March for Science and People’s Climate March as thinly veiled excuses to attack the president’s policies.

“Are there more marches?” Baugh said. “I think the Trump detractors are moving from tax issues to climate issues to whatever issues are the flavor of the day. This is more of a protest of Donald Trump than anything else.”

Jack Eidt sees it differently. He’s hoping to raise awareness about the quality of life locally by holding the People’s Climate March at Banning Park in Wilmington, an area that has historically been affected by pollution from nearby oil refineries.

Eidt, a city planner by trade, hopes that holding a march near refineries illustrates the impacts they have on their neighboring communities.

“We need to get out in the streets and show there’s strong support for reducing the use of fossil fuels. Let’s be realistic about what we can do,” Eidt said.

“I think that while street demonstrations can be incredible ways to bring people together and raise awareness and get the message out to a lot of people, I think it’s really important to go to places that embody the issues.”

 

From – Ocregister

3 thoughts on “Environmental Policies of Trump Govt. turn scientists into Political Activists

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