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As the Trump administration continues to play its game of Chicken with reality itself, the rest of the world is waiting to see what results, if any, the recent climate change report will bring. National priorities all across the globe are being re-written from the ground up, including from some of America’s own states that are polluted beyond reason or are already seeing their coastline disappear to rising sea levels.
We will have to wait and see how the long-term implications play out, but coalitions of Democratic and further-left politicians in California and elsewhere are hitting the ground running with lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency and the Trump administration itself. California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra, alongside several other Attorneys General, has delivered 20 or more lawsuits against Trump’s Republican government in the hopes of showing other leaders around the country, as well as the public, just how much legal ammunition they have at their disposal.
Reacting to the “Fourth National Climate Assessment”
Rather little of the Republican party’s assault on the environment has escaped AG Becerra’s notice, nor the multi-state coalition he now represents. Among other priorities, Becerra is suing Trump’s EPA for aggressively rolling back vehicle emissions standards. The drafters of the lawsuit maintain that tampering with emissions standards at such a precarious moment will have a demonstrable and deleterious effect on the lives and health of Americans. California’s governor said of the lawsuit: “The states joining today’s lawsuit represent 140 million people who simply want cleaner and more efficient cars.”
And this is just the tip of the legally fraught iceberg the Trump administration is barreling toward as it pursues a corporate-friendly but globally catastrophic political and business agenda. Having already delivered 20 lawsuits to Trump and Republicans, Becerra intends to hit the ground running and continue leading by example from his position in California civics.
California is a hugely populous state that already, at times, struggles with the costs of maintaining public health. The idea that conservative politicians are willing to watch these problems be further compounded by worsening air and water quality is beyond reprehensible. That’s what makes the FNCA such useful political and legal ammunition, even if that’s not the purpose its authors had in mind.
Said Becerra: “Absolutely — we will use every bit of that report,” he said during an interview in Washington, where he bumped shoulders with Andrew Wheeler, the EPA’s new administrator.
Wheeler, for his part, has staked out a position that’s typical for Trumpian as well as Republican philosophy. Having found himself faced with a mountain of pressure from the public to act decisively on the Fourth National Climate Assessment, Wheeler has instead retreated behind familiar rhetorical and political arguments:
- The climate report dates back to the Obama era, which means it’s a tyrannical threat to democracy itself
- The climate report was penned by “career politicians”
- The climate report is not consistent with Trump’s economic agenda of growth at all costs
Putting aside that “growth at all costs” is the philosophy of cancer cells, Wheeler also mistakes the provenance of this document — the “Obama years” — with proof that it is “politically motivated.”
It is not.
Obama-era bureaucrats may have been the ones who made sure this report eventually saw the light of day, but it has been scientists, from day one, who’ve been doing the due diligence and assembling these reports in straightforward, plain English. The scientific community has been as exhaustive as anybody could wish when it comes to explaining the science behind global anthropogenic climate change.
One might even suspect they had a particular “visual learner” from the executive branch in mind when some of these documents were being prepared for public consumption. What’s contained within is equal parts compelling, straightforward and incredibly dire. And if existential dread does not move corruptible and politicians to action, or else drive them from office, then the last option left to us, as Becerra and others believe, is to sue the government until public fury brings the story to a satisfactory denouement or until our leaders relent to reason — and the threat of human extinction.
Consciousness-Raising About Climate Change, Through Litigation
California is perhaps the United States’ most proudly “blue” state, but its leaders are hardly alone in wishing for more sensible economic and environmental policies at the federal level. Among other things, the many lawsuits brought against the Trump administration by at-risk liberal states include efforts to:
- Challenge the rollback of methane emissions limits
- Curtail or end the use of hydraulic fracking
- Fight the systematic elimination of fuel efficiency standards
Even the Clean Power Plan is under active attack from Wheeler’s EPA. The CPP was another Obama-era environmental rule that sought to limit the pollution of our communities and our breathable air from the burning of coal. Scientists observed burning coal to have a detrimental impact on the atmosphere as far back as 1912.
In other words, the propagandists who now control each branch of America’s government want the public to believe that the idea of global warming is a new development and that it is politically motivated. On both counts, they’re not just wrong — they’re deliberately and misleadingly wrong. That 1912 article from Popular Mechanics, like the Fourth National Climate Assessment, was assembled, by active scientists, for the general public. It could have been a catalyst.
Instead, we’ve spent the last century allowing corporate polluters to dictate the terms and then letting corporate news outlets apologize and cover for them. That’s bad enough. But now, our government is under the control of an organization, the GOP, who some of the world’s most celebrated thinkers have identified as a credible threat to human survival.
We’ve wasted a lot of time already, but it looks like many of our state leaders are done waiting around for the inevitable. The legal assault on the Trump administration by blue states isn’t about something as petty as American politics — it’s about justice and survival.
There’s no reason to believe our current president will be any more moved by this fusillade of legal challenges than he’s been at any other point in his adult life, but maybe that’s not the point. Perhaps the mission here is to raise consciousness like crazy until a critical mass of Americans, if not our elected leaders, come to their senses and demand real action toward a stable, healthy and livable future for all of us.