In the first debate of the Democratic Primary, Bernie Sanders, when asked what the greatest threat to our national security is, unequivocally said “Climate Change.” This opinion is true for a number of reasons and supported by security experts including the Pentagon. Climate change is already causing massive droughts in the Middle East, creating clashes over water rights, starving communities and displacing whole populations as climate refugees. The Syrian civil war can largely be attributed to climate change, when farmers were forced to flea to cities like Damascus and Aleppo. The Pentagon, as well as Sanders, concludes that as climate change worsens, this trend will spread across the globe, creating conflict and sparking war. These are immediate dangers.
More broadly, it is not mass warfare that will destroy our species and the majority of all others, but an uninhabitable planet, laid waste like Venus and Mars before us, but by an industrial pyrexia of greed stenched greenhouse gas. There is absolutely no disputing the fact that human activity is the cause of climate change, that greenhouse gasses trapped in our atmosphere will warm the planet to perilous temperatures and feedback loops will accelerate this trend to prevent any recovery. And yet, with thousands of climate scientists, nearly every living one, rattling the chains of Jacob Marley, the global institutions of money and power are driving this planet into the ground like an old Honda, content with the satisfaction that they will not see the end times, and a delusion that by the time they occur, we’ll have the technology to not save this planet but cruise forty light years to the dealership and get a new ride.
Among the worst greenhouse gasses, thirty times more potent to capture heat than CO2, is methane, a gas released in the production, transportation and storage of natural gas. With the US amidst an unprecedented boom in natural gas production since the advent and advancement of fracking, methane is poised to be the most detrimental gas for our planet. On Wednesday, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt halted an Obama era request that oil and gas producers provide information on their operations, including methane emissions.
“By taking this step, EPA is signaling that we take these concerns seriously and are committed to strengthening our partnership with the states,” Pruitt said. “Today’s action will reduce burdens on businesses while we take a closer look at the need for additional information from this industry.”
This should alarm everyone on the planet. Methane is an invisible, odorless gas and for communities to understand the environmental and health risks attributed to natural gas production, we need reporting. In 2015, a gas leak in Aliso Canyon, California, a wealthy community north of Los Angeles, leaked more than 97,000 tons of methane in the course of five months, a disaster of par with Exxon Valdez without any physical evidence to show for it, only data.
More than Russia hysteria, more than inhumane deportations, more than asinine and politically unwise travel bans, for the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to sympathize with the industries destroying the planet, to allow them to operate in secrecy, free of accountability, personal or public, to suggest that this isn’t just a major concession, but a signal of more to come, is truly terrifying.
Fracking must be banned, Obama era exports must be culled, greenhouse gasses must be taxed, our energy system needs to be completely overhauled with sustainable sources and we must learn to consume less. These are imperatives. None of this is possible with an EPA administrator who acts as if he represents the US Chamber of Commerce and not the agency protecting the environemnt. Scott Pruitt is dangerous and must be fought tirelessly until he’s gone.