While our nation has made progress in reducing the suffering of animals (see last month’s column here), there’s more work that needs to be done. While many of us are concerned about the policies already being pushed out by the Trump Administration, we all need to remember that, as a society, history will judge us by how we take care of our weakest. And animal advocates are very worried about putting the fate of our animals in President Trump’s hands.
First off, animal welfare advocates are worried about the future of our wildlife. According to National Geographic, President Donald Trump campaigned on a platform of undoing President Obama’s legacy. Obama helped wildlife by setting aside new swaths of land and ocean, putting in place new regulations on big game hunting of at-risk African species, and implemented numerous other environmental policies protecting humans and animals alike from climate change and pollution.
Obama also banned oil exploration on the 12 million acres of land in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Trump has stated that he will reverse that ban. The area is a sensitive ecosystem, home to millions of migratory birds, polar bears, caribou and other animals. National Geographic states that President Trump has called for new oil and gas drilling on public lands and in waters, which could degrade habitats and disrupt migratory pathways of native species.
And there’s always the risk of oil spills. President Trump and his fossil fuel industry allies could potentially destroy our cherished public lands and coastal waters with oil drilling, fracking, and coal mining. The Trump administration could roll back our most basic environmental protections that safeguard our air, water, environment and health.
Scientific American states that President Trump has called global warming “bullshit.” Trump has also vowed to “cancel” the Paris accord committing nearly every nation to taking action to fight climate change.
According to scientists, global warming is real and it poses a significant threat, not just to humans but also to animals. Experts say that animals are already feeling the effects of global warming. olar bears are starving because of rapidly melting sea ice, the reproduction of sea turtles is undermined by changing temperature at nesting sites and African elephants are suffering from climate change-induced droughts.
Global warming is a non-partisan issue. I recently read that scientists are planning their own march on Washington. On the cover of the article a scientist was holding a sign that read: “Ice has no agenda. It just melts.”
Sadly, President Trump has selected a climate change skeptic to lead his U.S. Environmental Protection Agency team. That would be Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general and a close ally of the fossil fuel industry, to run the EPA. According to the New York Times,, “Mr. Pruitt, a Republican, has been a key architect of the legal battle against Mr. Obama’s climate change policies, actions that fit with the president-elect’s comments during the campaign.”
Aside from having a long history of fighting against legislation that protects water and air quality, Pruitt is no friend to animals on factory farms. Pruitt recently supported State Question 777, known as “right to farm” law, which was designed to thwart any new regulations of factory farms. Thankfully, this law was defeated. But Pruitt’s support for factory farming and his open disregard for environmental protection should scare everyone.
Last, but certainly not least, is President Trump’s proposal of a U.S.-Mexico border wall. Aside from the utter ridiculousness of this idea, it will also have a negative effect on animals. Wildlife experts believe that the U.S.-Mexico border area is a sensitive desert ecosystem, home to diverse wild animals, from the roadrunner and bighorn sheep to El Jefe, the last known jaguar in the U.S.
National Geographic states: “A wall has the potential to choke off migratory routes, destroy habitat, and make it nearly impossible for rare animals like El Jefe and the North American ocelot to hunt for food and find mates. A Fish and Wildlife Service analysis estimated that a wall running the entire length of the border could threaten 111 endangered species.”
Any good person, be it a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, should support an agenda that opposes animal cruelty and helps protect endangered animals. We, as a nation, must show compassion for our most vulnerable, for those who lack the voices to speak for themselves.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”