Shelter Island Reporter Editorial: From the top down

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Record heat waves followed by extreme storms, biblical rainfalls driven by destructive winds, sea levels rising several feet by the end of the century, Wades and Crescent beaches gone, marshes and creeks only memories, infrastructure collapsing, freshwater wells salted out and surrounding bays flooded with poisons.

Not a dystopian movie treatment, but predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from four years ago.

Want something more recent? In Tara Smith’s report in the Reporter this week of a flyover of our region, she writes of seawater that “flowed past its usual boundaries, spilling across low-lying areas” and Orient sitting perilously low in the bay.

Some facts to reckon with: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has a conservative projection that sea level rise in our area will be 16 inches by 2050.

But there is time — just — to reverse these trends. Ideas such as creating “living shorelines,” as opposed to man-made barriers, employing vegetation, wetlands and planned rock formations will halt the destruction of our shores. The state has provided a website — dec.ny.gov/lands/4940.html — with extensive information on creating living shorelines.

The other method to halt environmental disasters, of course, is to put in place policies that will curb human-driven global warming. But that’s not happening in the United States. President Trump doesn’t believe in global warming. In fact, the president doesn’t believe in science.

Recently, the Union of Concerned Scientists reported that Mr. Trump and his administration had launched 80 attacks on science in just two years, such as censoring scientific findings, deep-sixing studies and halting the collection of data.

The Trump administration also went after certain words for ideological reasons. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a mob hit on “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

The person Mr. Trump chose to run the Environmental Protection Agency thought it was his duty to steal with both hands; protecting the environment was laughable. He resigned when even the president couldn’t take the daily exposure of his sleazeball maneuverings.

The crackpot he named to run the Department of the Interior — someone who couldn’t manage a hot dog stand, forget a federal department — was also slimed with scandals, and slunk away from his work rolling back protection of our ownership of public lands to aid oil, gas and coal conglomerates.

The Trump administration scrapped the Clean Power Plan, which had a mandate to reduce carbon emissions from coal-burning plants, and detonated other regulations that would begin reclaiming clean air and water for Americans.

Global warming, according to Mr. Trump and the grim crew of millionaires and billionaires who have his ear, is a hoax. Last November, Mr. Trump said he didn’t believe in human responsibility for climate change after his administration’s National Climate Assessment reported the opposite. Shown a copy of the report, the president dismissed it out of hand, saying he hadn’t read it.

With severe blizzards in the Midwest this week — the frequency of extremely harsh weather is in itself a sign of human-made climate change — Mr. Trump asked for “global warming to come back fast.”

With all the outrages inflicted on the country by Mr. Trump and his band of merry men, from lining pockets at our expense to an assault on institutions, perhaps the systematic war against the environment will be the president’s most lasting legacy.

The president’s policies hurt everyone, including young Islanders, who will have to tell their grandchildren that, believe it or not, there were once beautiful beaches, right here.

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