January 22, 2021

The President’s Cabinet looks quite Different from Trump’s (Here is Why that’s so Important).

Cabinet nominations and the environment: compare and contrast.

“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” ~ Bob Marley

What makes someone or something great?

To me, it starts with core values and is followed by living with integrity. None of that matters if your word is not good and your actions are inconsistent with your words.

Great people care for all the creatures on Earth, give their time, talent, and treasury to make the world a better place—now and for future generations. They treat all people with respect, and they respect our planet for being the source of all life.

If the Earth is the source of life and all that sustains us, why do we treat it so poorly?

We created global warming. We pollute. We are addicted to fossil fuels, which are literally killing our environment and planet.

Earth is estimated by scientists to be 4.5 billion years old. They also estimate that we will run out of fossil fuels in only 200 hundred more years. We have only been consuming them since the inception of the industrial age (about 100 years).

Fossil fuels are one of the principal causes of global warming. Fossil fuels are a non-renewable source of energy. They draw on finite resources that will eventually dwindle, becoming too expensive or too environmentally damaging to retrieve.

Because of the worldwide reliance, fossil fuels are extremely valuable; they cause conflict among its consumers. Countries fight for control of it. People deployed by their governments are literally killing each other over it.

In contrast, because renewable energy is infinite, it is sustainable and can be shared by all. It can be exported by the country that develops the technology that harnesses the power. It can be an economic driver and create millions of new jobs. It can lead to peace and harmony by nations that work together in using it.

We cannot continue to destroy our planet and simultaneously pretend that we care for our kids or their kids. The options are binary and directly opposed to each other.

Do we want to be led by people and associate with people who ascribe to our same values?

President Trump uses vague terms like “huge” and “great” when talking of people he appointed to cabinet-level positions. These appointments shaped policies that were harmful to the environment.

He chose Rex Tillerson as his nominee for secretary of state. Tillerson is the CEO of Exxon Mobil and had close ties to the Russian government. The (ex) president called him a “great man.” He had a 500-billion-dollar oil deal pending with Vladimir Putin.

He chose former Texas governor Rick Perry as his nominee for energy secretary. Perry proposed eliminating the Energy Department, which is responsible for the country’s energy policies, during his unsuccessful bid for president in 2011. In a debate during his recent presidential run, Mr. Perry said he doesn’t think “the science is settled” on climate change, criticizing “the idea that we would put Americans’ economy at jeopardy based on a scientific theory that is not settled yet.”

He chose Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency, which is charged with protecting the nation’s air and water from big polluters. Pruitt‘s known for the many lawsuits he has filed against the very agency he is now supposed to lead, as well as orchestrating the Republican attack on the Clean Power Plan.

He chose Ryan Zinke to head the Department of the Interior. He would oversee 500 million acres of land concentrated in the west and manage 1.7 billion acres of ocean along the coast. He also would oversee the development of nearly a quarter of the United States’ energy supplies. In the Senate, he has a long record of votes against environmentalists on issues ranging from coal extraction to oil and gas drilling.

Collectively, they represented special interests like the oil lobby. Their attitude can be summarized as follows: oil rules! Our environment doesn’t matter as long as we are creating more jobs.

Comparatively speaking, let’s look at the cabinet nominations from President Joe Biden.

First, he nominated John Kerry, the former secretary of state who helped orchestrate the Paris Agreement and will get us re-engaged in it.

Second, he nominated Gina McCarthy, who was Barack Obama’s EPA administrator.

Third, he nominated Brian Deese, a champion of Mr. Obama’s climate program.

Fourth, Jennifer Granholm, who supports renewable energy, was selected to run the Energy Department.

Fifth, he nominated Pete Buttigieg to lead a Transportation Department with an important role in developing climate-friendly mass transit.

Sixth, he nominated Deb Haaland to be the interior secretary to oversee 500 million acres of federal land, including national parks and wilderness and mixed-use land.

Seventh, he nominated Michael Regan to run the EPA, he will be charged with restoring the Obama Emissions Rules and the Clean Water Act.

He is not done. He is just about to begin to Make America Great. These nominations are meant to help achieve the great goals he has set for America as leaders in saving our environment and our planet, “Net zero emissions by 2050 and eliminate fossil fuel emissions from the power sector by 2035.”

“Greatness” in this case can be the collective action of citizens to support our new president and stand up for our planet. The stakes are as high as can be for all of us.

Saving our environment is more significant than hot button issues like immigration reform, race relations, freedom of speech, and the economy. Those are all important issues. However, they assume a sustainable environment. Without a sustainable environment, social and economic issues are irrelevant.

So, which “greatness” do you support?

One that looks backward and relies on nonrenewable resources or one that looks forward to a new, sustainable economy?

Let’s make America great again. But in this case, let’s understand what greatness is and the necessary actions and implications of how we achieve it.

Let’s do it by leading with integrity, in harmony with others, and in harmony with this great planet that sustains all life.

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