Photograph by Chris Jordan-Bloch/EarthJustice
Dear Mr. President,
As an “early adopter,” you know the power of technology. Yet you signed an executive order supporting a dying industry. Overturning critical climate regulations to support the coal industry is like promising good jobs to buggy makers or pyramid builders.
A multiple tragedy faces the miners. They won’t return to their old jobs; those jobs are gone. Technology has replaced pick axes. Instead, the mountain tops will be blown to rubble and toxic ash, which will get dumped in their rivers. They will miss the opportunities in emerging energy industries: energy literally falling on our heads from the sun; wind blowing steadily across the mountains; and geothermal heat from beneath the earth. This energy could provide exciting, well-paying, “good” jobs. Someone needs to build and maintain the wind turbines, solar panels, and geothermal pipes. Someone needs to invent the ways to make America (and the world) energy independent. We no longer must extract minerals from the ground. Your executive order is written to enrich the coal industry owners, not to get the miners back to work.
You are soon to have a new grandson. I’m saddened when thinking about the world he will inherit as a result of your action. Will you ban him from reading a National Geographic? Will he be forbidden from singing America the Beautiful? What will you say when he asks why? Why the sky is no longer blue? Why he can’t play outside without a respirator? Why millions of people are dying of starvation and thirst? Why the mountains are bald and scarred? Why the coral reefs are dead?
As he gets older, how will you answer his questions about your role? After all, he will know you were the most powerful person on the planet at a critical moment in climate history. What will you say as he realizes you didn’t try to stop the damage, you actually led the assault on the environment? He will never see a living polar bear, stand under an ancient cedar tree, or splash his face in a spring rain. The mammals will be gone, the trees dead, the rain turned to acid. When he stands at the Grand Canyon he won’t gasp in awe at the beauty and wonder of America, he will see a Koch Brother’s uranium mine.
When he asks you about trout fishing, what will you tell him? You’ve served up the clear streams of the mountains as easy, cheap dumps for coal ash. The rivers feeding the mighty Mississippi are being written off as convenient oil spill troughs.
…And then, when he is old enough, what will you say when he tells you that he is changing his name? To be a “Trump” is an embarrassment. To be a “Trump” means to embrace anachronistic, dangerous, dirty, environmentally destructive jobs in order to further enrich a few coal mine operators. To be a “Trump” is to assure America is left behind in the next big energy innovation. To be a “Trump” means your grandfather, the President, made the decision to destroy the earth – rather than to rescue it. Your grandson will find it hard to come to terms with his family name.
You could lead the world to a healthy future; instead you chose to destroy his future.
All the grand buildings, gold-plated faucets, fancy parties and designer clothes in the world will not make up for the humiliation of being a “Trump.” That will be your legacy.
Please change your mind. Pause on one of your lovely golf courses. Breathe in the smell of newly mown grass. Look at the blue sky. Feel the sunshine. Listen to the sprinklers nourishing the grass. You could lead the world in protecting the “only home we have.” Change course. Use your tremendous powers of persuasion to lead the world in adopting new energy technologies. Position the United States and the coal workers to embrace a healthy and productive future.
Be the person your grandson will admire when he reads the National Geographic. Teach him to sing America the Beautiful. Make him proud of this grandfather, President Donald Trump, who quite literally saved the world.
I’m asking you to reconsider your actions – because I have grandchildren too.