Sundin column: Arch criminals
There are two arch criminals at large who should be tried and convicted of calamitous crimes against humanity. Their actions are setting the stage for the suffering and death of billions of people throughout the world, including the United States.
The worst of these offenders is Jair Boldanaro, the President of Brazil, who has embarked on a program of deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, which is absorbing seven billion tons of carbon dioxide every year — acting as a brake on global warming — and replacing it with oxygen, which supports all forms of animal life, including humanity.
This “forest-cleansing” is being driven by a desire for more wealth, primarily by converting forest land into pasture land for beef production, but also to produce palm oil. There is also money to be made from timber harvesting, much of it illegal and largely ignored by the government. This Brazilian government, led by Boldanaro, is encouraging this penetration of the rainforest by widening and paving 480 miles of a neglected dirt road that had become virtually impassible, opening more than 200 million acres of forest to destruction. Tractors, trailers, excavators and ten saw mills have followed.
In a recent 12-month period, 3,800 square miles of Brazilian rainforest were destroyed, a 30 percent increase over the previous 12 months. Currently 15–17 percent of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed. Forestry experts warn that if rainforest destruction reaches 20–25 percent, the rains on which the rainforest depends for its survival will be reduced, resulting in hotter temperatures and more fires. The ability of the Amazon to absorb CO2 will diminish and could disappear, with devastating consequences.
The other criminal offender is our own president, Donald Trump. His environmental offenses include denial of scientific warnings of global warming and the evidence which is already confirming those warnings, promoting coal mining and weakening or eliminating environmental protection regulations, including rolling back automobile and truck emission standards and fuel consumption requirements. In addition, he has withdrawn the U.S. from the Paris Accord, claiming it is just a hoax and a foreign conspiracy to undermine the U.S. petroleum and natural gas industries.
Our president’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak is equally deficient. His first response was to label it a hoax perpetrated by China to harm our economy and panic the stock market. He assured us that everything was under control, and “the U.S. is in great shape.” Instead, he had stripped or eliminated funding for government health and environmental agencies like the global health team established by the Obama administration, and replaced their management and staffs with political hacks and incompetents. He even went so far as putting Vice President Mike Pence (who is totally unqualified) in charge of combating the coronavirus outbreak, and imposing censorship on the CDC medical specialists, requiring that only information cleared through him may be released to the public. The result of all of this incompetence is a serious delay in developing a plan for dealing with a pandemic that may cost an untold number of American lives, and a complete failure in keeping the American public properly informed.
Amy Goodwin summed it up perfectly when she said, “Currently, no coherent structure exists in the U.S. to address a rapidly spreading deadly pandemic. Instead, a hodgepodge of unqualified Trump loyalists are on the front line, with thankfully, career professionals at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Health trying to do their best to protect the public despite a dysfunctional White House,” and, “One of the most critical actions of a government is to clearly communicate accurate information to as wide a population as possible.”
Trump’s March 11 message to the American public was a disaster. He announced that a travel ban between Europe and the U.S. would apply to “the tremendous amount of trade and cargo” entering our country. A statement that implied that U.S. citizens would be prevented from reentering the country, was later clarified to say that they would be exempted from any such restrictions. He also claimed that he met with leaders of the health industry and they had agreed to wave co-payments for coronavirus “treatments,” when it should have been only for testing.
In a meeting with pharmaceutical company representatives, Trump demonstrated his disregard and abysmal lack of scientific knowledge by asking why they couldn’t just use one of the flu vaccines they already have. He has also assured the American people not to worry, a vaccine will soon be available, when the pharmaceutical companies tell us it will take 12-13 months.
“As I See It” appears on occasion in the Post Independent and at postindependent.com. Hal Sundin lives in Glenwood Springs and is a retired environmental and structural engineer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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I’m not often given to public displays of affection, but on the morning of Monday, July 19, I felt it necessary to give an old and dear friend a proper send off.