May 2018 is officially the hottest month ever recorded in the contiguous United States, an announcement which comes at the same time as the EPA signs off on scaling back health and safety risk regulations for toxic chemicals.
According to climate scientists, temperatures were consistently 5 degrees or more above 20th century averages and wiped out the previous 1934 record set at the peak of the Dust Bowl.
As 2018 gears up to be the fourth-hottest year on record, the Environmental Protection Agency has rolled back regulatory restrictions on healthy and safety standards for dangerous and toxic chemicals.
Not only were temperatures consistently up across the nation, so too were the rates of out-of-the-ordinary climate events.
Alaska had its fourth wettest May on record, and the Northern Rockies’ snowpack melted at record rates due to warm and wet conditions causing widespread flooding throughout the region, while the mid-Atlantic and Southeast seaboard experienced record rainfall, flooding, and mudslides.
Panama City, Florida was battered by subtropical storm Alberto with wind conditions consistently topping 65 miles per hour.
Yet, almost paradoxically, 26.4% of the contiguous U.S. experienced drought conditions; the islands of Hawaii experienced especially arid conditions on its leeward shores, while the Southwest and Midwest experienced record highs with wildfire season kicking off early in California.
The EPA under Scott Pruitt has been working to undermine its own efficacy by appointing department heads whose interests are in direct conflict with the responsibilities of the departments which they oversee.
Just last month, Pruitt barred journalists from sitting on a hearing regarding nationwide water contamination resulting from the military and civil use of fire retardant foams and materials which contain toxic, cancer-causing chemicals.
At nearly the same time, we discovered that Pruitt’s former right-hand woman, Samantha Dravis, scheduled meetings exclusively with the very industry officials whom she was tasked with regulating.
The list of scandals at the EPA is increasing as the Freedom of Information Act filed by the Sierra Club continues to reveal even more questionable behavior.
On top of the revelations that Pruitt violated federal ethics standards by requiring two top aides to carry out personal tasks on Pruitt’s behalf, such as apartment hunting and tracking down a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel, it has recently been discovered that Pruitt had one of his former schedulers reach out to the CEO of the fast-food chain Chik-fil-A on behalf of his wife, Marilyn, who sought to open her own franchise.
This is Pruitt’s response to the blatant example of abuse of power:
“With great change comes, you know, I think, opposition. I mean, there’s significant change that’s happening across—not only at the EPA, but across this administration. And it’s needed. And, look, my wife is an entrepreneur herself. I love, she loves, we love—we—Chick-fil-A is a franchise of faith, and it’s one of the best in the country. And so, that’s something we were very excited about. So—and we need more of them in Tulsa. We need more of them across the country. So, anyway, it’s an exciting time.”
We have reached a point not only as a society but as a species where we are staring down the barrel of a very real gun — climate change and its repercussions are the greatest threat we have ever faced, and it is a threat of our own creation.
As we continue to be distracted by our president’s reality-TV approach to politics, the time on the clock is ticking out.
We only have so much time, so many more chances, to turn this around before it’s too late.