Today is June 21st and it is the summer solstice. Acknowledgement of the solstice is often relegated to a blip in the news which often leads to weather predictions and good holiday reads. Weather obsession is a Midwest past time, so I won’t bother adding my thoughts about this to the pile of past, present, and future prognostications. In the place of weather talk and discussions about summer books, let’s consider this solstice as an opportunity to consider a clear contrast.
Quite literally, the solstice is an astronomical contrast. During the summer solstice, the noon sun reaches its highest point in the Northern hemisphere and coincides with the longest period of daylight. Conversely, on December 21st, those living north of the equator will experience the fewest daylight hours. These astronomical contrasts translate into things we see everyday. IN the summer, we live in a green world where song birds serenade us from dawn to dusk, ducklings are eye candy, and mosquitos expand exponentially. While the heat and humidity increases, so does the sense of emotional well-being and desire to seize the day. In direct contrast, the winter solstice is a frigid and icy world. Barren leafless trees are the skeletal reminders of the summer that was, and the wildlife that once seemed plentiful, look to be in survival mode. The emotional highs of summer are replaced by winter afflictions such as light deprivation, depression, and flu.
So it is with recognition of the difference between these two discrete events that I wish to take a parallel analysis of the state of affairs in this post Obama / Trump era. As I began processing the day’s blog I thought I might discuss human rights, education, international disputes, or trade, as there are strong contrasts in policy between the two. However, given that this is a nature photography website where ecological stability is a keystone for my photographic goals, I have chosen to contrast Trump era environmental policies to those prevalent during Obama’s eight years in office. What follows is an abridged list of changes that I find to be significant between the priorities of the Republican Party compared to their Democratic predecessors.
Since the inauguration of Donald J. Trump in January 2017, the White House has cut the Nasa climate monitoring program (1), the status of threatened species is under review (2), car emission standards have been weakened (3), F.E.M.A. has eliminated the impacts of climate change from its strategic plan (4), the administration is looking to cut Department of Energy funding for renewable energy (5), the EPA has reduced regulations on toxic air pollutants (6), most members of the National Parks Advisory Board have resigned in protest to administration policies (7), the climate change website has been censored (8), climate change has been dropped from the list of national security threats (9), the status and size of some western national monuments have been reduced (10), protection of sage grouse is threatened by oil exploration (11), NOAA cancels Obama rules that would protect whales and sea turtles from fishing nets (12), the US pulls out of the Paris Climate Agreement (13), and the EPA dismisses science advisors (14).
Much like the sharp differences between the abiotic and biotic characteristics that define the summer and winter solstice, the environmental priorities of the current Republican president exist in direct opposition to those articulated by Barack Obama. On this day, it seems fitting to reflect on the political decisions we have made as a country. Blinded by the bling of celebrity and false promise, our society has chosen to abandon logic, reason, and science. Sadly, I fear that every day the current administration is in power, we will follow the pattern of exploitation that defined the past rather than support a culture of conservation which might ensure the self preservation we all seek.
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