A story broke today in the Guardian today that underlines the enormous damage the Trump administration is having on all aspects of the American government. Not only is Trump going to war with the intelligence agencies, he is also undermining American climate scientists attempting to study the biggest threat to the survival of mankind.
The story is predictably crazy -- climate scientists are having their research funding held up because the Trump administration is insisting on having project proposals reviewed by the high school football teammate of the US interior secretary, Ryan Zinke.
And who exactly is this person? Steve Howke, a veteran of the credit union industry with a bachelors degree in business administration, is Zinke's buddy who apparently has enough experience to oversee the most important research on the most pressing issue facing humanity. Howke, it should be mentioned, has no experience in land management, environmental or natural resource policy, climate research, or any other related field. Reported the Guardian:
The US interior department administers over $5.5bn in funding to external organizations, mostly for research, conservation and land acquisition. At the beginning of 2018, interior secretary Ryan Zinke instated a new requirement that scientific funding above $50,000 must undergo an additional review to ensure expenditures “better align with the administration’s priorities”.
Zinke has signaled that climate change is not one of those priorities: this week, he told Breitbart News that “environmental terrorist groups” were responsible for the ongoing wildfires in northern California and, ignoring scientific research on the issue, dismissed the role of climate change.
Steve Howke, one of Zinke’s high-school football teammates, oversees this review. Howke’s highest degree is a bachelor’s in business administration. Until Zinke appointed him as an interior department senior adviser to the acting assistant secretary of policy, management and budget, Howke had spent his entire career working in credit unions....
The policy, which has been in place for six months, is already crippling some research. One of the largest programs affected is the Climate Adaptation Science Centers, a network of eight regionally focused research centers located at “host” universities across the country.
This is, for lack of a better word, completely insane. Why a man who has worked for the credit union industry for the majority of his life gets to review proposals for extremely complex scientific studies is completely ridiculous. It would almost be like putting a TV reality star and failed real estate conman in the White House and expecting them to perform as president.
The story also highlights the corrosive effect Trump's appalling leadership is having on the US government -- employees are leaving in droves, entire departments severely understaffed, and literally no one wants to work with the administration -- and for one glaring reason: Donald Trump. Fourth rate hacks can only attract other fourth rate hacks, and even then the supply is limited. Howke would have been laughed out of every other administration in US history (outside of maybe the George W. Bush White House). But yet here he is, a credit union hack and high school football jock rubber stamping the most important science on the planet.
Trump administration's war on science and our living environment is going to have serious consequences for not only Americans, but the rest of the planet to. According to the vast, vast majority of scientists, we have a very short amount of time to radically de-carbonize the global economy and slash emissions before we escalate temperatures to the point of no return. In fact, we may already be at the point of no return -- a sobering fact that should have all governments around the world working frantically to at least dampen the worst effects of it.
Instead, the Trump administration is forcing the top scientists in the world studying the phenomenon to submit their proposals from some guy who the US Interior Secretary used to play football with in high school.
This is not just madness, it is an act of deliberate self sabotage. Trump is entitled to his hatred for our living environment, but he is not entitled to force the rest of the world to deal with the consequences of it.