Facts, The Future and Our Freedom

Facts, The Future and Our Freedom

President Trump’s penchant for lying has been well documented. He has undoubtedly lied for years to lure people into bad deals for steaks, ties, vodka or real estate. This has contributed to thousands of lawsuits.

But as his lies metastasize from influencing retail transactions to complete disregard for physical reality, he threatens our health, our future and our freedom.

“The ice caps were going to melt…but now they are at a record level” is a Presidential lie that is easily refuted by observation, physics and history. The ice loss we are witnessing across the globe was predicted decades ago by physicists as a consequence of global warming. Every American President since Lyndon Johnson has been warned by scientific advisors about the threat of continued greenhouse-gas emissions.

While the President creates confusion and promotes complacency with lies and long-discredited narratives, our world is changing rapidly. Warming air and ocean temperatures, rising sea levels, declining ice mass, and altered precipitation patterns will bring serious and painful impacts to civilization. These impacts include changed availability of water, more forest fires, acidification of the ocean, more frequent extreme weather events and altered distribution of pests and diseases. These changes will cause vast economic and humanitarian consequences, including mass migration, threatening U.S. national security.

This is the future that Trump’s denial of evidence will force upon us. He makes matters worse by undoing government policies designed to prepare us and our children for the changes ahead.

Human progress since the Enlightenment has been supported by our willingness to trust measurement and observation, to value humility and expertise in the face of complexity. Air Force General Michael Hayden, the Ex-Director of both the CIA and the NSA, notes our nation is in uncharted waters with a President who attacks the evidence-based institutions in our society: science, journalism, academia, the courts, law enforcement, and intelligence.

Evidence-based practitioners are fighting back, calling on their fellow Americans, their elected officials and particularly Republicans in Congress to protect our future by not acquiescing to the President’s recklessness. We must support them as if our lives and our freedom are at stake, because they are.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told recent graduates of the Virginia Military Institute, “if we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.”

That is because our freedom is based on using facts to hold those in power accountable. We are in trouble if the President of the United States is allowed to have his own.