Republicans were not always Neanderthals when it came to science and climate. In 1901, the Theodore Roosevelt administration established the USFS, the United States Forestry Service. Along with that came the establishment of 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, 4 national game preserves, 5 national parks, and 18 national monuments by enabling the 1906 American Antiquities Act, all done during his presidency. Richard Milhous Nixon, as ‘tricky a Dick’ as could be found, notched a check-mark in his intellect column by creating the EPA, [Environmental Protection Agency]. President James Earl Carter Jr. kept the innovation going.
In 1979 long before man acknowledged the current and dire need to find alternative fuel sources, to not only preserve energy but save the planet, Democratic President Jimmy Carter installed 32 solar panels on the roof of the White House. Mr. Carter’s point was to show that water could be heated efficiently, effectively and inexpensively. “In the year 2000 this solar water heater behind me, which is being dedicated today, will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy…. A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people,” Carter said during the unveiling.
Then came the knuckle draggers, determined to make fire with tinder and flint.
Enter Ronald Wilson Reagan, swaggering, full of bravado and Clint Eastwood paraphrases. Five years into his tenure Mr. Reagan removed those liberal panels from the White House roof. There were reports that President Reagan thought the panels were unsightly and unnecessary. According to George Charles Szego, the engineer who convinced Carter to install the solar heater system claimed the then WH Chief of Staff Don Regan said, [he] “felt that the equipment was just a joke and he had it taken down.”
Republicans had their revisionist hero, and they have moved the country in reverse ever since. Denying that humans are contributing to the warming of the planet and bringing snowballs to the floor of the Senate as proof. Nominating a neophyte Alaskan mayor for Vice President, whose biggest contribution to America is the phrase “drill baby drill.” The culmination of their years of terrible global leadership is Donald John Trump. The president who just yesterday refused to wear a mask mandated by the manufacturing plant he visited because he thought the press would make fun of him.
So, in the middle of one of the world’s biggest pandemics, costing as of this writing over 90,000 American lives, instead of setting an example, the sun-gazer decided his pride was worth more than potentially another 90,000 lives. Mr. Trump has taken the anti-science wing of the GOP to new lows. Withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord; marketing fossil fuels as the world burns, polluting our lakes and streams once again, by easing regulations on coal slurry runoff. Now he is playing mad scientist with our lives. For years genius was comically defined using the compound word “egghead.” What the COVID-19 virus has done is reveal to the world that the American President and self-proclaimed stable genius is not only soft boiled but scrambled.