I feel like this is a reasonable question since the months that felt like a decade of childish fighting and low blow tweets yielded little to no information on the policies President Donald Trump’s campaign is based on. I mean when it comes to presidential candidates, what is policy anyway? It’s nice to know you can become President of the United States of America without one solid educated reasonable stance on well, anything. All of my friends and I wish we could graduate from engineering school without having to suffer through four years of mind bending mathematics, physics, chemistry, and thermodynamics. But let’s be real, would you trust an engineer who does not have a solid foundation?
I am very close to officially being a materials and metallurgical engineer, something I have worked diligently towards for the past five years. My daily life surrounds myself with other engineers, people who exist in a community based on logic, reason, and science. We speak in experiments run over and over and over again, some failed, some successful. We do not throw nonsense words at one another or try to spin data in a way that better suits our needs. I have yet to meet an engineer (teacher or student alike) at Colorado School of Mines who does not understand science is NOT something we “believe” in, it is something we dedicate our entire lives to learn, master, and accept as being imperfect. What have I learned in my five years? A lot of what doesn’t work which opens the door for that which does.
All that being said, I ended up in engineering school because of my intense love and dedication to protecting the wild places that I adore. There is no other reason. My focus is biomaterials; biodegradable packaging to be more specific. Five years ago my life was directionless, I was co-dependent, unhappy, and insecure. Five years ago I decided to change that. I left everything that dominated my existence and I started over, alone. I enrolled in classes at a community college and I bought a pair of trail runners and taught myself how to navigate mountain terrain. Was it scary? Hell ya. I was terrible at math and the mountains are incredibly intimidating. I cried a lot. I questioned my sanity a lot. But ultimately, I stuck with it and grew into a woman I can be proud of; fiercely independent, happy, secure, and educated through hard work and dedication.
We all have a series of moments that define us and I remember my most important. I had just returned home from a four month solo road trip in which I ran a new mountain, forest, waterfall, national park, etc. etc. every single day. I wanted to finish climbing the mountains over fourteen thousand feet in the Colorado Sawatch Range. I only had Mount Huron left, so I poured over maps and created a beautiful off-trail loop that would allow me to run out a ridge of several thirteen thousand foot peaks. Solo ridge running is one of my favorite things. It also requires high altitude back country navigation skills. I had just summited my third mountain and I set off running for my fourth. As I let gravity sweep me effortlessly down Brown Mountain I picked up my head and looked around. Beautiful stone peaks accentuated by rolling green hillsides. Silence. Big horn sheep grazing one peak over. Delicate alpine flowers struggling in the wind. I was acutely aware of myself moving through this spectacular place like it was my actual home. Not the apartment with the cushy bed or the trunk of my car. Tears began to involuntarily run down my face. The mountains had saved me. The mountains had tested my strengths and weaknesses in a way nothing else could and forced me into the best possible version of myself. I was already in engineering school, I was already interested in renewable energy but it was in that moment I accepted my purpose – to fight for and protect our undeveloped land. It is our responsibility to pass on to future generations a place that will cleanse their soul and give a second, a third, and a fourth chance without asking for anything in return except connection. Do you think Donald Trump who lives in a gold tower and eats pizza with a fork and knife understands this?
I do not claim to be an expert politician. I will openly admit there is a lot I do not understand. The government makes it that way for a reason. What I do know, about half of America is potentially a little bit racist and a little bit sexist. Scary, yes. But the other half of the country realizes Donald Trump is a narcissistic hateful man with no solid plan for this country or its people. Trump a 70 year old man once tweeted Jon Stewart at 1:30 in the morning and called him a “pussy.” Apparently, he really likes that word. Twitter wars, something Trump loves to engage in are for 13 year old girls and The Real House Wives of Orange County….. speaking of reality t.v. shows and orange….like it or not, this is our president now. Scary, yes. He could unify half of the country based on hate, fear, and a lot of words that mean nothing. “Make America Hate Again?”
We do not have to be complacent, we do not need to mute our voices. As a whole, we can speak up for the minority and against things we know are morally wrong. We can fight for everything that does make America great, the diversity, the opportunity, and the beautiful open spaces. For me this election was always about the land and the health of the planet. I voted for Hillary because my environmental policies align with hers. My biggest concern is who Trump will pick to head the Department of the Interior (in charge of national parks and public land), the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency. While I feel our national parks are safe, they could be negatively impacted by the decisions made concerning public land. As a lover of the outdoors, throughout this election, this has been my number one concern.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an agency within the United States Department of the Interior that administers more than 247.3 million acres of public lands in the United States which constitutes one-eighth of the landmass of the country. President Harry S. Truman created the BLM in 1946. The agency manages the federal government’s nearly 700 million acres of subsurface mineral estate located beneath federal, state and private lands severed from their surface rights by the Homestead Act. Most BLM public lands are located in these 12 western states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Aside from Alaska (which I know is amazing), I have spent copious amounts of time in all of these states and they are BEAUTIFUL, in part because of this land. National Parks are a treasure but some of the best forest land, mountains, and back country are located on these public lands. If individual states are given control of these lands they will be sold and developed. This is something the Republicans (who now control the house and senate) have wanted to do for a LONG time.
Donald Trump has thrown around a name or two for who will head up the interior, and it’s not you and it’s not me (the public). It’s Forrest Lucas, the 74-year-old co-founder of oil products company Lucas Oil. Lucas has openly spoke out against animal rights and his wife said this on facebook, “I’m sick and tired of minorities running our country! As far as I’m concerned, I don’t think that atheists (minority), muslims (minority)n or any other minority group has the right to tell the majority of the people in the United States what they can and cannot do here. Is everyone so scared that they can’t fight back for what is right or wrong with this country?”
The Department of Energy could go to Harold Hamm, the billionaire oilman from Oklahoma. The EPA to Myron Ebell, the director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute who is currently heading Trump’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency. Ebell is also a staunch climate change denier who has faced scrutiny for accepting money from industrial polluters.
These (or people just like them) not could, but WILL be the men in charge of our land and our environment. These are old white business men with massive amounts of self interest and plump bank accounts. These men are EXACTLY like Donald Trump. “Drill baby drill. $$$” Having a home supply of oil is not a bad thing. It takes quite a bit of energy to transport oil from the middle east but what Donald Trump COULD do to our land and coastlines (fracking, pipelines, off shore drilling etc.) should scare you. As well, climate change is not something we “believe” in, there is science that proves we go through natural cycles of change and some of what we are currently experiencing is natural. This does not mean we should drill every available piece of land and ruin ecosystems and biodiversity.
The other half of us do not have to sit here and quietly do nothing. First off, start today by understanding where the things you consume come from. If they come from big oil, stop buying them. Purchase a bike and give your car a rest. You don’t need to drive 1.7 miles to the store. Make a statement and stop contributing to the demand that oil supplies.
Are you mad? Good. Remember how you feel today and do not grow complacent. We tend to do that. Pay attention to what happens next. Pay attention to the individuals Trump puts in his cabinet, they will run this country. Pay attention to what is happening to our land, and if you don’t like it, fight it. I know I will, both physically and intellectually. I’ll chain myself to the mountain. I will fight for funding science. Organize like minded individuals and be loud about it. Use your voice, use your social media outlet to educate others in a respectable way. If I was the president I would choose education, education is the safest and most effective weapon we have. Ask questions, seek answers, keep an open mind, do not turn down the opportunity to talk to someone who is different than you, and never ever ever stop fighting for the things you believe in.
For the record, I am not against Donald Trump. My hope is that I am wrong and that he respects our lands, our science, our diversity, our women, and implements a positive progressive change. My hope is that he is a great president. I read something, “hoping he fails is like hoping the pilot crashes the plane, we are all still on it together.”
As always, I am here to have a conversation; male, female, black, white, brown, orange, christian, atheist, environmentalist, environment hater, Trump supporter, Hillary supporter, Taco supporter….do not let the conversations fizzle out.