As seasons fade from spring to summer, temperatures are rising, water is evaporating, and ice is melting. Californians must all face the devastating effects that floods, droughts, wildfires, oil spills, and species’ extinction have had on our home, as global warming and climate change concurrently spur their anecdotes in our rear view mirrors. If hindsight bias hasn’t already forced you to confront the reality of human error, these incidents sure do serve as proof to the testimony of our belted and battered planet. Now, this inundated, outlying hypothesis, highlights the responsibility Americans have in upholding sustainable practices, as climate change’s catastrophic consequences haunt and taunt Mother Nature’s most mesmerizing monuments, threatening the grandeur of our most cherished playgrounds—as well as the rights and livelihoods of all creatures whom inhabit them.
Controversial debates over land development have now carved a place into the center stage of environmentalist discourse, as fossil fuels continue to pollute our politics. Environmentalists, scientists, eco-feminists, and the outdoor recreation industry are all reaping backlash against Trump’s new executive order requiring Secretary Ryan Zinke to review over 100,000 acres of federal land, once protected under the focal point of President Roosevelt’s environmentalist legislature—the Antiquities Act.
While Trump claims these designations may “create barriers to achieving energy independence,” environmental agencies argue that these revisions will expose formerly safeguarded land to exploitation. Considering recent action under Trump’s administration, that targets both Earth’s crust and her atmosphere, it may not come as a surprise that environmentalists see past the empty promises of our “leaders,” and recognize these actions as a ploy to make nationally sanctioned land legally available and vulnerable to oil and gas drilling.
As reported by CBS San Fransisco, the seven national monuments in California that could be threatened are Giant Sequoia, Berryessa Snow Mountain, Carrizo Plain, Sand to Snow, San Gabriel Mountains, Mojave Trails, Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains; and in Arizona, a section of the Grand Canyon may additionally be under attack. Special attention has also been drawn to the latest designation at Bear’s Ears National Monument in Utah, where 1.3 million-acres were sanctioned under the Obama Administration. Republican Governor Gary Herbert requested that Trump rescinds the protection of Bears Ears as a national monument, which has sparked controversy because this legal action will have a “chilling effect on tribal federal relations when it comes to protecting landscapes,” reported by the New York Times.
Secretary Zinke has consistently fed the public with his claim to “love” thy wilderness, and fill our hearts with other vacant promises to protect the planet; however, the old phrase “actions speak louder than words” makes light of our Interior Secretary’s faulty, hypocritical history. Since his time in office, former Montanan Senator Zinke has failed to follow through repeatedly on his standpoint, delivering deception and opposition in the political ring of fire on pertinent environmental issues like wildlife conservation, public lands transfer, and forest management—choosing to benefit those in favor of development and drilling. He has continuously failed to uphold the state’s environmental values, and his unreliability to take a stand for Montana’s great outdoors in this critical time of need leads politicians, business leaders, and citizens into a war for Nature’s liberty.
The real danger that lies in repealing these national monument designations is the susceptibility to hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” that is entailed in the land’s legal exposure. Under the misnomer, Protecting Agriculture, Conservation, and Recreation, and Empowering States (ACRES) Act, this proposal will revoke the historic Antiquities Act, and place the power and control over land development and oil drilling into the hands of state governors, adjacent counties, and adjacent property owners, making it just one step easier to “frack” with these surrounding sites. Despite attempts from Secretary Zinke to brand himself as the ultimate “Theodore Roosevelt conservationist,” his corporeal behavior realistically undermines Roosevelt’s environmentalist activism and the entire legacy of his presidency.
Message to Secretary Zinke: You cannot repeal climate change; the good thing about science is that it is true whether or not you believe in it. Our planet, Earth, is not a mirror reflecting reality, she is a tool to be propagated in the initiation of proactive and preventative change. This news is more than a travesty—it is an atrocity, an abomination, and an assault on the very land we take refuge on.
What you can do: Chanel your anger into action, get loud, and do your part. I don’t mean knotting yourself to a Giant Sequoia Tree—sign petitions, go to protests, volunteer your time to environmentalist groups, send letters and postcards, make phone calls, donate to non-profit organizations, support leaders who stand by our planet—the Earth can’t wait four years.
Kaitlin Davis is a senior psychology student at Cal Poly who believes in the importance of prioritizing the subsistence of the environment and all of her species above corporate interest.