Letter to the Editor: Who Will Be Muzzled Next?

It is well known and easily observable that the current administration in Washington D.C. does not believe climate change is primarily human-caused. It is also well known that many administration officials have long-standing ties to the fossil fuel industry. For many of us those facts are both irrefutable and unfortunate.

But now recent behavior has gone far beyond simple disagreement.

  1. The EPA has barred two scientists and one contractor from speaking at a scientific conference in Providence, Rhode Island. This conference marked the culmination of a three-year study on the status of Narragansett Bay, New England’s largest estuary. For six years the EPA has provided about $600,000 annually to study more than two-dozen estuaries. Narragansett Bay has warmed three degrees Fahrenheit. Its water level has risen seven inches in the past century. And this can not be discussed? We don’t care? We don’t intend to do anything to alleviate the changing conditions or at least take some remedial action? How much sense does it make to pay for a study and then not let the EPA scientists or anyone else discuss it?
  2. It’s one thing to question whether human activity is a main driver of climate change despite overwhelming evidence that affirms the role of human activity. That’s discouraging enough. It’s a very different and ominous situation to muzzle scientists from discussing facts gleaned from federally supported research. Who is next to be silenced? Perhaps anyone who disagrees with any politically-motivated position?
  3. Fires, floods, and hurricanes are already costing the federal government tens of billions of dollars a year and climate change will continue to drive those costs higher and higher. Yet, the EPA has scrubbed dozens of links from its website to materials that helped local officials deal with the effects of climate change.
  4. Our own military has for years described climate change as a threat multiplier. And a recent book, The Water Will Come describes how rising seas will reshape our world.

Wouldn’t it be prudent to take responsible action now? What will it take for our elected officials to start acting responsibly?


Richard Smythe, retired U.S. Forest Service

Sister Bay, Wis.

Article Comments