Earth Day and the know-nothings

This year, we’re celebrating Earth Day with a march to support the very existence of science. How did we get to the point where know-nothingism is winning?

It’s easy to forget that first Earth Day, in 1970, wasn’t a basket of roses. It was the culmination of a bitter fight for clean air and water that was just beginning to gain traction. Environmentalists were commonly called “Communists,” and calls for clean air were considered an attack on American workers. From the beginning, we were swimming upstream.

Now the stakes are higher – despite 47 Earth Days, the planet is overheating and the future is in doubt. And a cadre of greedy idiots have seized power.

But just as a broken clock is right twice a day, the Trump forces are right about one important thing: There are people being hurt by the transition from a carbon-intensive economy to a clean-energy world. The problem is that Trump is more concerned with the owners of the coal companies than with coal miners. Did you see the photo of him with the “miners”? They were coal executives. The miners were behind them, out of the picture. That’s Trump’s energy policy in a nutshell.

Coal miners deserve better. They could be building wind farms on top of the mountains that the coal companies have flattened. The miners could be making electric vehicles. Instead, we’re going to subsidize more coal production.

The miners are, well, the canary in the coal mine. We need to work with them, not against them. They are not attacking science – they’re being lied to about the role of science by Fox “news” and craven politicians like our new Energy Secretary.

Earth Day is about ecology – the interrelationship of living things and their environment. That means all living things, including miners and other victims of the carbon economy. The best hope for those most at risk from a changing economy and deteriorating environment lies with…science.

So let’s march today. Let’s show the know-nothings that we outnumber them – bigly – and we’ll sweep them away if they persist. In the name of science.


In 1970, I began Earth Day in a courtroom, and finished it in a school encounter that opened some minds – including my own. Read about it in Some Way Outa Here.

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