Few people see and feel the impacts of climate change more directly than the park rangers, scientists, and foresters who serve as stewards of America’s public lands.
From the rangers who are witnessing glaciers disappear from Glacier National Park, to the firefighters who are battling increasingly intense and frequent fires on our forests, to the water managers who are grappling with diminishing flows on the Colorado River, natural resource professionals are on the front lines in confronting the impacts of climate change.
And so it should have been no surprise Wednesday when Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell highlighted the Department of the Interior’s role in combatting climate change, and voiced her encouragement for the work of the agency’s natural resource professionals. According to Energy and Environment News, she said: “You and I can actually do something about [climate change]… That’s a privilege, and I would argue it’s a moral imperative.”
With this statement, Secretary Jewell echoed President Obama’s call for action in the face of head-in-the-sand opposition from right-wing climate deniers (“We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat-earth society,” the President said last month). She also called on climate deniers to come visit America’s public lands if they want to see the impacts of climate change for themselves. “I hope there are no climate change deniers in the Department of Interior,” Jewell said. “If you don’t believe in it, come out into the resources.”
Jewell’s invitation to climate change deniers to visit the lands and waters that are being damaged by climate change is akin to inviting the members of the Flat Earth Society to take an around-the-world trip.
Despite the fact that carbon pollution is causes climate change, a small cadre of Koch-supported, right-wing groups pounced on Jewell’s comments. “Scientific Cleansing,” screamed the headline of a post about Jewell’s comments in the oft-debunked junkscience.com (run by a former American Petroleum Institute PR strategist). Jewell is a “self-righteous bully,” ranted Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Heartland Institute (both Koch-funded).
To these climate deniers, of course, it doesn’t matter that 97 percent of peer-reviewed, scientific papers agree not only that climate change is occurring but that humans are causing it.
What’s worse, according to a Climate Progress analysis of the U.S. Congress, 55 percent of House Republicans, 65 percent of Senate Republicans, and 77 percent of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology deny the existence of climate change or that humans are playing a role in it.
So the real question is not about Secretary Jewell invitation that climate deniers come visit America’s public lands: it’s whether she has enough junior ranger badges for all the climate deniers in Congress.