Our Pledge To You

News

Letters: Lift the gag orders on climate change information

A woman, takes photos of the flooded banks of the Seine river in Paris last June. An international team of scientists found that man-made climate change nearly doubled the likelihood of devastating French flooding. On Wednesday, the European Environment Agency said that the continent is facing rising sea levels and more extreme weather, such as more frequent and more intense heat waves, flooding, droughts and storms, because of climate change. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

Small children learn quickly that their peekaboo partners don’t fail to exist when their eyes are closed. Yet our nation’s new leadership, with Donald Trump writing out the orders, seems to think climate change — a globally agreed-upon, evidence-based fact — will cease to matter if the government no longer discusses it. Wrong.

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.

Every inch of this planet is affected by climate change. Pollution, ocean acidification, increasing storm frequency and strength, annually rising temperatures, and sea level change are all measurable and real phenomena. Trump spent his fourth day in office making sure the American public won’t know about climate change from its own, taxpayer-funded scientists when he placed gag orders on climate scientists in the EPA, USDA, Department of the Interior, Department of Commerce, Health and Human Services, and the National Park Service, among others. They are no longer allowed to publish their work to the public. They cannot share research or findings without fear of recrimination. This will not magically erase the problem; it will multiply the crisis.

Americans, whether they understand climate science or not, need to know the patterns that affect crop losses, the devastation of hunting and fishing grounds, and the collapse of our food system. We need to know more about the floods and storms that carry away our homes and lives. We will be victims of cataclysms that the government could not warn us to prepare for, and will not rescue us from — just look at the federal non-response to the tornado victims in the Southeast from this weekend.

This muzzling of climate science affects us all, regardless of party affiliation. Everyone — citizens and the press alike — must demand a reversal of these gag orders by the executive branch or suffer real consequences, no matter if they “believe in science” or not.

Victoria Landau, Evanston

Starting point

I was one of approximately a quarter million people who marched in Chicago last Saturday. I consider it a starting point to fight for what we believe in and I am hoping that this turns into a movement, not just a moment in history. I will be doing my part, but I am calling on all the people to continue what we have started.

I marched and will continue to fight for all women, including those not born with female anatomy. I marched and will continue to fight for all individuals with disabilities, including those with “invisible” disabilities, such as individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders. I marched and will continue to fight for individuals affected by racism, sexism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia, including those affected on a daily basis because of microaggression in everyday language. I marched and will continue to fight for those who will be affect by a wall, including individuals who experience a wall because of violations of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. I marched and will continue to fight for reproductive rights, including those who will die because of lack of cancer screenings, those infected by deadly diseases because of lack of condoms, and illegal abortions.

The list could go on forever, but my point is I marched and will continue to fight because this is a movement, not a moment. We, the people, can make it a very powerful movement if we continue to fight for what we believe in.

Rosemary Callahan, Gold Coast

Political rhetoric

Although workers compensation remains a key component in the state budget debate (Sun-Times Editorial: “Workers’ comp reforms must be fair to workers”) it is important not to get sidetracked from advancing true reform with calls for counterproductive ideas like 1970s style insurance rate regulation.

This type of political rhetoric will not change the underlying costs in the workers compensation system. However, unnecessary rate regulation will add costs to our already bankrupt state. The focus of reform should be on helping injured workers get healthy and advancing effective reforms that address underlying costs for Illinois businesses. Even the business community has debunked the myth perpetuated by the editorial that the problem lies with insurers.

Reforms such as a specific drug formulary with evidence-based treatment guidelines, a longer claim evaluation period and a Medicare-based fee schedule will control costs while being fair to workers.

Jeffrey Junkas,
assistant cice president, State Government Relations
Property Casualty Insurers Association of America