Gina McCarthy, head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President Obama, was recently quoted (in an article by David Abel in the Boston Globe) as saying, “Climate science is more robust than the science that said cigarettes cause lung cancer. You’d laugh at me if I said cigarettes didn’t cause lung cancer. It’s incredibly dangerous that they don’t believe it.”
McCarthy was further quoted, in connection with the Trump administration’s policies, as saying, “The implication that political people would have to review the science before it was articulated is disturbing. If the science changes because of politics, that’s not science.” According to the article, she pointed out that none of the members of the transition team were scientists, saying, “They were calling the EPA’s science — which is considered the gold standard around the world — junk.”
I find this incredibly disturbing. How has our country gone so far off the rails that science has been converted to a matter of opinion? Global warming is an obvious example of this, even though there is a consensus in the scientific community that global warming is real and that humans are contributing to it. I’m sure there are countless other examples of scientific analysis conducted by the EPA Science Advisory Board that are being dismissed just as carelessly.
I’m worried about our EPA in the hands of Scott Pruitt. He has sued the EPA more than a dozen times. Pruitt disbanded his home state’s (Oklahoma) environmental protection unit. He is a climate change denier. Putting him in charge of the EPA is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house. At a time when the EPA needs to be stepping up stronger than ever (such as in Flint, Michigan), we cannot allow Pruitt to dismantle it.
Donald Trump is old enough to remember the U.S. before the EPA was established in 1970. Being from New York, you’d think he would remember when New York City was blanketed in smog so thick Thanksgiving weekend 1966 that 200 people died. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to gut the EPA and allow us to return to that kind of pollution. Why would Trump want to slash the EPA’s budget and staffing?
In the early years of the EPA, there was a photography project called “Documerica” to document environmental problems across the country. According to the EPA website, “Documerica ultimately collected over 15,000 photos that serve the agency and the public as a visual baseline for comparing how our environment looked then, with how it looks now and in the future.” These pictures are a startling reminder of why we need to protect the EPA.