EPA Plaza, Washington DC
(c) Tom Brennan, NYT
A pretty tumultuous week has thwarted my plans of digging into the Barcelona Animal Communications Symposium. In the wake of senseless attacks on tourists on the Barcelona Ramblas, in importance of scientific inquiry pales. We can only hold the victims in our hearts and prayers – a moment of solace for ourselves; against an eternity of loss for the victims, the survivors, and their families. The depth of the tragedy has eclipsed anything I might want to convey about animal communication.
But this tragedy may not be in your windshield. You might be fixated on the racist upheaval across our nation and in our halls of governance; or the looming nuclear threat with North Korea; or the equivocation of the press that panders to our collective anxiety. But the fact of the matter is that all of these exacerbated situations are concealing many other disasters that are either to arcane, or too technical to capture our attentions (or the press’ thirst for easy, hard-boiled eyes).
Perhaps you may have missed that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “head” Scott Pruitt has locked off the floor of the EPA building that houses his office – and has sequestered the visitor’s logs while he does his dark mastectomies on our environment? And were you aware that the US Dept. of the Interior Ryan Zinke has announced the lease-sales of 79 million offshore acres at fire-sale royalty prices for oil and gas exploration and production? The reduced prices are an accommodation for “current depressed market conditions.” (A deep tax subsidy for the beleaguered oilmen.)
You may well have also missed the proposed reuniting of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). These agencies were separated by prior secretary Ken Salazar after the Deepwater Horizon disaster when he “looked under the covers” of the then Minerals Management Services (MMS) to find the oilmen, the regulators, and the royalties department having drug-dusted, liquor-soaked panty parties while missing some safety shortcuts that let the BP Horizon disaster occur.
These situations are only a few of the shenanigans occurring behind the offensive antics of the Executive Branch. The best advice I can give is to not get too distracted by the jumping monkey with the golden leash. Pay attention to, and advocate for those issues near to your heart. And remember; while everyone is staring aghast at the unimaginable violence, anti-Semitism, and racism on our screens, at least some of us need to focus – and act on the destructive activities going on behind the curtains.
And for your health’s sake, spend a little extra time off-screen, and with those you love.