Back in 1992, when I became Executive Director of Indiana’s ACLU, I made it a rule to avoid using the word “outrageous” (a term which had evidently been a favorite of my predecessor), because I believed–and still believe– that when you label every policy or court decision with which you disagree outrageous, pretty soon no one pays any attention to you. You become the crank who cries wolf.
On the other hand, sometimes “outrageous” fits. It was the very first word that came to mind when I read this recent news item from PBS.
GENEVA (AP) — Almost every country in the world has agreed on a legally binding framework for reducing polluting plastic waste, with the United States a notable exception, United Nations environmental officials said Friday.
An agreement on tracking thousands of types of plastic waste emerged at the end of a two-week meeting of U.N.-backed conventions on plastic waste and toxic, hazardous chemicals. Discarded plastic clutters pristine land, floats in huge masses in oceans and entangles wildlife, sometimes with deadly results.
The framework will affect a broad range of products and industries, including health care, technology, aerospace, fashion, and the food and beverage industry. Refusing to get on board won’t allow the few non-signatory countries, like the United States, to escape its impact, because most of them ship plastic waste to countries that have signed on.
Norway led the initiative, which was first unveiled in September. As the report noted, the relatively short period of time from introduction to approval was a blistering pace by traditional U.N. standards–especially for an agreement that is legally binding.
The refusal of the Trump Administration to sign on to yet another global agreement–one that we will necessarily obey anyway–is simply a way of giving the middle finger to science, the United Nations, and our allies. It’s of a piece with Trump’s constant efforts to roll back domestic environmental protections. The President sneers when the threat of climate change is raised, and when it comes to protecting citizens from environmental hazards, his EPA demonstrates weekly that it is firmly in the pocket of chemical and fossil fuel companies.
The Trump Administration’s entire approach to environmental policy deserves to be labeled “outrageous.”
Contrast this fast and loose approach by people who evidently don’t care about the world their grandchildren will inhabit to the campaigns of the Democrats running for President, all of whom give evidence of taking environmental issues seriously.
Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA), candidate for the Democratic nomination for POTUS is near the back of the pack, polling at 1%. But his new Evergreen Economy Initiative is so very bold, matching the size of the response to the huge size of our climate crisis, that he has now moved into 2nd place in my own 2020 preferences. Warren is still first, but I hope she adopts a climate plan as bold as this. It dwarfs the Green New Deal. The details are here.
It is not socialist, and does not rely entirely on governmental central planning, but it is a WWII sized effort based on the original New Deal. It aims to revitalize Labor by repealing all “right to work” laws.It invests $9 Trillion in infrastructure (super high speed rail, better/smarter power grids, zero emission vehicles, green buildings, water conservation, etc.) and green energy production. It aims to get to a zero emission economy by 2030. The plan includes a carbon tax and plans to cap methane emissions and HFCs.
There is a “G.I. Bill” component aimed at coal communities to help them transition to new technologies and not be simply left behind (as they are now with all the coal plant closings).I think there needs to be a similar effort for places Alaska and the Gulf Coast to be quickly weaned off oil & natural gas.
Governor Inslee is highly unlikely to secure the Democratic nomination, but a number of the provisions of his bold initiative are likely to find their way into the platform of whoever does become the nominee.
Sometimes, the consequences of our choices in the voting booth aren’t terribly clear. That won’t be a problem in 2020. No one who cares about the environment, or the future of the planet (or, for that matter, human decency) can justify a vote for Trump or his enablers.
That word I tried so hard to avoid–outrageous– accurately describes both this utterly corrupt administration and the voters who continue to support it.