Climate Control: Trump’s Suppression of Climate Change Information Bodes Ill
How long before books by George Orwell or Aldous Huxley are removed from US public libraries? That’s an extreme thought. It seems extremely unlikely, doesn’t it? How about books about climate change?
Yet, the deletion of the Badlands National Park’s tweets of climate change facts, if indeed ordered from above, looks an awful lot like authoritarianism. At the very least, an atmosphere now prevails in which the parks service felt the need to delete statements of established fact. It has also emerged that the administration has ordered the removal of climate change information from the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. Trump’s administration looks an awful lot like an authoritarian one. So where’s the line? Where and when do the attempts at control end?
You may say “Hey, a few tweets got deleted, a webpage, no big deal”. It is a big deal. Climate change is fact. It is the most pressing issue for the planet to deal with. It poses a serious threat to human habitats and to biodiversity. Unchecked, it will almost certainly also contribute to civil unrest and war. Wars for water and food are a real prospect. Well, now the executive of the world’s most powerful country appears to be actively and openly meddling in the statement of facts. Facts relevant to the work done by the national park. Facts that are freely available and irrefutable. Facts that don’t pose a risk to national security or relative economic well-being by virtue of their distribution. The sum total of our knowledge about climate change undermines Trump et al.’s proposed efforts to roll back the clock on the ever-so-limited climate-related achievements to date.
America has recent form in this area. For example, the terms climate change and global warming were banned from use by officials of Florida’s state environmental agency last year. Yes, Florida, a high risk part of the world where climate change is concerned. Trump also has form. Trump, and his campaign staff, and now his administration, have set out to literally undermine the very reality in which we live. They have set out to present an alternative, false reality as the true state of affairs. Use of the term ‘alternative facts’ recently has brought this into sharper relief, but it has long been the case. As I’ve said before, this is more than just a politician’s standard, defensive lies or obscuring of the truth. It’s an offensive move. It is Trump’s core strategy.
That strategy is an authoritarian one. The results are potentially Orwellian. It sounds like an exaggeration to evoke Orwell’s writings, but we’ve been here before. Now, many democratic countries are already leaning toward authoritarianism. Erdoğan is busy firing civil servants in Turkey. Duterte has urged the murder of people who are addicted to drugs in the Philippines. Temer is pushing Brazil toward authoritarianism. Ethno-nationalism is being stoked right across Europe, as well as the US. Need another example? Under G.W. Bush, the USA subverted the Geneva Convention. The administration found a way to justify waterboarding. It was sold as “enhanced interrogation”. It is not. It is torture. People suffered because anger and fear entered the equation, facts got trampled in the scrum, and morality went out the window.
Orwell once wrote “from the totalitarian point of view, history is something to be created rather than learned.” I think that’s worth remembering.
TL;DR: Denying the distribution of facts relating to climate change is a tool of authoritarianism. What’s happening is redolent of Orwell’s 1984. Actually, it’s redolent of many, many other times authoritarianism has taken root.