Climate Issues on the DC Front

Dominick DellaSala, Ph.D – Chief Scientist at the Geos Institute

I recently met with Congressional aides in the U.S. House and Senate to do my part at blocking the Trump Administration’s draconian budgetary cuts to science, popular wildlife and recreation programs. My message was simple – we need science and planning to reduce the consequences of climate change more now than ever given how rapidly the global climate is changing. I discussed the need to support homeowners living in fire-prone areas in taking steps to reduce fire risks to homes so that more fires can burn safely in the backcountry to replenish wildlife habitat. And I talked about how climate change is not just an environmental problem, but has alarming human health consequences.

The health issues are personally important, as I have a 12-year old daughter who, for the past five years, has been suffering from chronic Lyme disease, which is rapidly spreading throughout the nation as more ticks and their hosts (e.g., mice, deer) are surviving the warmer winters. Some 400,000 new cases are estimated each year with health costs skyrocketing to over $1 billion. Without proper planning and increased attention to how climate change is affecting people and nature, these risks will only worsen.

Tonya Graham – Executive Director at the Geos Institute

It didn’t take long for the campaign rhetoric to be translated into action with the Trump administration purging all things climate related in our federal agencies. Case in point is the EPA, which disbanded its Climate Adaptation Program, a program that was implementing ten important actions to improve climate resilience within the federal government. All that work and capacity gone – just like that. The sad truth is that this program in particular was designed to build and strengthen not just the federal government’s adaptive capacity to respond to changing conditions but also that of states, tribes, and local communities.

Communities across the U.S. are in desperate need of help building climate resilience and now one of the primary nation-wide support structures for this critically important work has been shuttered. This rash move by an irresponsible administration will cause unnecessary hardship for local leaders as they work to protect their people from climate change impacts. Worse yet, it has stalled the momentum built within the EPA at a time when we need to be doing more, not less, to ensure a safe climate. The loss of federal leadership has left a big hole – a hole that we are now looking to the states, particularly Oregon, to fill by taking aggressive action on climate.