Explaining the Trump EPA to a Confused Martian


So, a couple of years ago I introduced readers to my friend, the Confused Martian. The Confused Martian is a friend I bring into my sociology classes often when I’m trying to confront common sense notions or highlight some of the strangeness of some of the everyday rituals that we all take for granted.

Of late, the Confused Martian is overworked and certainly underpaid.

But he made an appearance today while I was scanning (only scanning, mind you) the New York Times Home Page.

I saw this.

Confused Martian

Of course, the headline is the devastating fires sweeping across California and burning in many western states.

In October of last year, I read this.

A little over a year before I read this.

I could go on and on. And I’m only pointing out fires. These catastrophic fires of increasing intensity have become yearly events. Everyone in the world with even fractional understanding and respect for science knows that this phenomenon is caused, or at the very least exacerbated, by global warming resulting from greenhouse gas emissions. This is a no-brainer. More heat, my dryness, more fire. A six-year-old can figure this out with little effort.

And as my Martian friend might point out, if the science is clear that deadly fires are made worse by global warming, and greenhouse gas emissions make global warming worse, then maybe, just maybe, something should be done about greenhouse gas emissions.

He has a point.

But what is confusing to my Martian friend is that lower left-hand headline.

Confused Martian 2

The article in question is referring to the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan, an attempt by the Obama Administration to bypass an obstructionist Congress and actually do something about regulating greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, the Trump Administration is doing exactly the opposite of what needs to be done.

So my Martian friend is confused as to why the very earthling institutional structure tasked with the job of “Protecting the Environment”–a structure that has Environmental Protection in two-thirds of its very name–would pursue policies that actually harm the environment.

Furthermore, having paid acute attention to the 2016 election, much to his psychological detriment, he wonders how a candidate who was very honest about his intentions to let the world burn for the sake of his buddies in the greenhouse gas industry could get elected by voters who were, presumably, above the age of six.

I don’t have any good answers for my Martian friend.

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