Climate Change Activists Rally Against Trump’s Cabinet Picks
Local climate change activists gathered Downtown today for a quiet rally at Trinity Episcopal Church. The organized effort called on Senator Rob Portman to reject President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet appointments, several of whom could help eliminate environmental protections and unravel the progress that has been made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Trump picked Scott Pruitt, known climate change denier, to run the EPA; Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobile Chairman, to lead the State Department; and ex-Governor of Texas Rick Perry to head the Energy Department, one of three departments he’s said he’d like to dissolve.
“Can these men understand that their jobs are about a whole lot more than oil and gas? Will they be able to recognize that, when it comes to climate change, we’re at critical mass? Do they have the ability to make the best decisions for all of us?” Mike Holm, from Citizens Climate Lobby, asked the room. “Nah.”
Each appointment could backtrack on the departing Obama administration’s progress, which has worked to cut the nation’s carbon pollution, lead international conversation around the issue, and prepare for the already unavoidable impacts of climate change.
What has long seemed to be an abstract, distant threat is showing — through extreme weather changes like droughts, wildfires, and floods — that it’s right here, right now. Holm pointed to large-scale environmental shifts, like global warming, ocean acidification, and food and water insecurity to articulate the urgency. But, the impact can be felt here in New York’s rising sea levels and California’s nonstop wildfires, which totaled almost 7,000 in 2016 alone.
“We understand that we cannot continue the current assault on every planetary boundary we have and expect the earth to continue to sustain us, not to mention all the other species with whom we share this planet,” Holm said. “We understand that we can’t allow the president-elect to succeed in his attempt to pack his administration with climate change deniers and fossil fuel special interests. It’s just not practical.”
Federal partners are few, said City Council member Elizabeth Brown, but the city and county have made their own commitments, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020. The Smart City grant won last year through the Department of Transportation could allow the city to surpass that goal when they convert their entire fleet — snow trucks, refuse vehicles, etc. — to electric vehicles.
On an even smaller scale, residents can make their households, businesses or community organizations green through the city’s GreenSpot program. The online program offers tips for conserving energy and water and living sustainably.
Although individual efforts can be made, rally speakers encouraged attendees to remain involved in the political process.
“The solution is not to think happy thoughts and hope for the best, but to demand action,” Holm said. “To demand that Washington remembers that it represents us first and political parties and special interests second.”