• Ed Flattau

A Different Earth Day

Earth Day in 2019 is different from previous incarnations. Environmental concerns are more a part of the national discourse than ever before, with a boost from the fledgling 2020 presidential campaign.

Couple this political activism with an unprecedented cascade of highly visible climate-related disasters at home and abroad and you have removal of global warming from the realm of academic abstraction. No longer is it treated sporadically and perfunctorily by the majority of the media, and when they do falter, there is always the internet.

In the four previous presidential contests, environmental concerns were barely mentioned. But the environment has been elevated to unrivaled prominence this Earth Day, as Democratic presidential contenders have made it a major focus of their campaigns. One Democratic presidential aspirant, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee, has even designated the environment his primary issue, exerting additional pressure on the nearly score of other declared candidates (as if President Trump’s dismal record was not enough).

Speaking of Trump, his destabilizing actions have been instrumental in catapulting environmental matters out of the publicity doldrums.

The President has heightened Earth Day 2019’s moral resonance by rolling back clean air and clean water regulatory protections while withdrawing the country from the international Paris Climate Change accord. He has attracted unfavorable national attention with preposterous public statements. “Climate change is a hoax”, “Windmills can cause cancer”, drought restrictions on water use are a pain because they interfere with washing his hair, and severe forest fires are the result of failure to cut down and harvest enough trees. These are just a few of his “gems”.

Further unflattering publicity thrusting the environment into the limelight has stemmed from the scandal-ridden ouster of Trump’s top two green officials in his administration, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

The Democrats’ proposed Green New Deal, a compendium of ambitious, aspirational goals, has stirred debate in Congress on environmental matters with intensity not seen in a very long time.

On this Earth Day, more corporations than ever before, tacitly or otherwise, are acknowledging the existence of the climate change threat and taking steps to mitigate its effect.

On this Earth Day, renewable energy is no longer a fringe boutique source of power but has entered the mainstream market and is coming on strong.

One thing is for sure. The issues associated with this particular Earth Day will have much more than a 24 hour life span in the media and beyond.


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