Andy Rowell: “Tell me Donald. Exactly how much is a human life being sold for?”

January 29, 2019 – Two years into his Presidency, the fullblown cost of Donald Trump’s assault on human health, the environment and on science is becoming brutally and painfully clear.

The cost in lives lost and pollution emitted from his rollback of regulations has been calculated too. The numbers do not lie: Trump is killing his voters. Trump is making our kids sick. Trump is killing the planet, at the same time as giving his polluting friends in the fossil fuel industry billions of dollars in handouts. And all the while, he carries on obfuscating the truth about climate change in a deliberate attempt to confuse and distort the debate.

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First let’s look at science. To mark the two year anniversary of Trump’s presidency, the Union of Concerned Scientists has just issued a report into the Administration’s attack on science.

It concludes: “The Trump administration over its first two years has shown a pervasive pattern of sidelining science in critical decisionmaking, compromising our nation’s ability to meet current and future public health and environmental challenges.”

According to the UCS, the ten major features of the Trump administration’s anti-science agenda include:

  • “Circumventing guidance from scientific experts by shutting out scientists from the decisionmaking process, leaving science positions vacant, disbanding or compromising advisory committees, or sidelining independent expertise.
  • Suppressing scientific studies when their findings undercut the administration’s political agenda.
  • Politicizing scientific grants by allowing political appointees to review them, which undercuts the scientific process and deters progress of the wider scientific enterprise.
  • Eliminating climate change from policy development. The administration has repeatedly ignored, dismissed, or suppressed climate science, limiting the ability of federal scientists to study it or speak about it and removing mentions of climate change from official agency documents and websites.
  • Undermining protections from hazards at work and home. The administration has undercut the vital role of government science in protecting people from environmental hazards, including chemical safety and air pollution rules, limiting public access to information on fracking, and rolling back collection of data on workplace injuries.
  • Endangering the environment. The administration has pushed science out of environmental protection for national parks and other protected areas, curtailed or canceled environmental impact reviews, and undermined the Endangered Species Act.
  • Restricting scientists’ communications. Agencies have restricted the language scientists can use in public communications, instituted new barriers to scientists’ interactions with reporters, and omitted important scientific information from news releases.
  • Creating a chilling environment. The administration has created a ‘culture of fear’ among scientists at federal agencies, resulting in self-censorship and reduced effectiveness.
  • Restricting federal science at scientific conferences. The administration has blocked or created political barriers to conference attendance for many federal scientists.
  • Changing data use and availability. Reducing access to data undermines scientists’ ability to inform decisions on critical topics.”

To give you an example of what Trump’s rollback looks like in terms of pollution and impact on health, yesterday, the Associated Press also analyzed 11 major rules targeted for repeal or relaxation by the Trump Administration.

According to the AP, these rules – such as cutting coal pollution, expanding offshore drilling, relaxing rules on fracking, mercury pollution and refinery pollution, and repealing vehicle emission standards, amongst others, “will come at a steep cost: more premature deaths and illnesses from air pollution, a jump in climate-warming emissions and more severe derailments of trains carrying explosive fuels.”

Whereas fossil fuel companies could potentially save some $11.6 billion, the rollback would cause up to 1,400 additional premature deaths and increase greenhouse gas emissions by about 1 billion tons (907 million metric tons) from vehicles produced over the next decade. This is equivalent to annual emissions of almost 200 million vehicles.

Paul Billings, of the American Lung Association told the AP: “I don’t think it’s well understood what the death toll of these policies will be for the American people.”

The AP report sparked outrage online yesterday after it was published. One Twitter user asked: “Tell me Donald. Exactly how much is a human life being sold for?”

But the AP’s analysis is only as small fraction of what is at stake: According to a blog on Scientific American yesterday, it has been estimated that air pollution rollbacks by the Trump administration will increase premature deaths in the US by up to “40,000 people annually along with tens of thousands of lost work and school days because of illness.”

As people die in their thousands, our kids get sick from dirty air, Trump’s devious climate denial continues. Yesterday, he tweeted:

“In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!”