This is Pipette, a recurring video series that explores big science by women.
When I first spoke with Dr. Sonali McDermid, an environmental scientist at New York University, about the fate of the world, it was a few days before the inauguration in January. It was around 30 degrees and rained nonstop, but she was excessively patient with me. She explained the oft-invoked metaphor coined by Gerald Meehl that climate change is like a baseball player on steroids, and what the worst-case scenario might be with Donald Trump in office. But she was also hopeful, and stressed that it was actually extremely difficult for Trump to pull out of our various climate agreements, and that we had more reason to fight for climate justice than ever. I left our talk freezing, but at least not totally filled with dread.
But then Trump was elected, and showed he had neither respect for nor interest in abiding by any kind of social or moral contract. He has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to stop all contracts, grants, and interagency agreements, and to immediately stop providing updates on research or anything else on social media or to press. He also told the EPA to remove the climate page from its website, and signed orders to help advance the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, after their construction had been halted. Recently, his EPA transition adviser Myron Ebell said that the “greatest threat to freedom” was the Green movement. And that’s not close to all.
I emailed Dr. McDermid a few days before we were scheduled to post our interview to see if her opinion had changed. They had, and rather horrifyingly:
So much to say here, and not much of it good unfortunately—things are worse that I’d imagined and I’m tired of being caught “off guard”.
I think what’s on my mind right now is action—how do we act to fight back. I’ll itemize my thoughts here for ease:
1) We all need to remain fully engaged and vigilant and ramp up our civic participation. Getting out there to demonstrate and protest against what we feel to be unconstitutional—and making sure our elected representatives hear us—is paramount.
2) Gag orders on federal, tax-payer funded organizations such as the EPA, NPS, etc. is NOT acceptable. While this seems to have varying levels of enforcement, everyone should be writing their representatives to express their outrage at this.
3) We need to renew our protest efforts for Keystone and the DAP—these infringe on environmental justice, native American rights, and goes against the will of the people.
4) Everyone should attend the Climate March on April 29th and the Scientists March, when that is announced. We need all hands on deck to fight for truth.
5) While the last week has been extremely difficult—if not devastating—what the Women’s March proved is that there are millions of eyes watching, anticipating and ready to fight back. We must take heart in our collective actions and push forward, making sure to put ourselves between Trump and true liberty.
While I am fearful, anxious, and outraged, I also—perhaps for the first time—do not feel alone. America cares about making sure we have a true democracy and the civil disobedience of my fellow citizens is empowering.
I suppose I can sum it up by saying what seems to be the mantra of this movement: Resist.
Good luck to all,
Produced by Melissa Murray and Joanna Rothkopf
DP: Lara Aqel
Additional Camera: Phoenixx Flixx
Sound: Sarah Brady Voll
Opening GFX: Elisa Solinas
Animation GFX: Devin Clark
Editor: Melissa Murray