Politics

marine mammal rescues, environmental data collection

Should we stop it yet? No? All right, never mind.

National Geographic brings us still more overlooked effects of the federal government shutdown, focusing on the environmental and scientific damage being done. At this point most are familiar with the overflowing garbage (and human feces) in national parks, but the knowledge that the national volunteer effort to respond to beached or injured marine mammals is on hold due to the shutdown’s effects on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is new.

And again, the pointless and unnecessary damage to long-term scientific programs is noted.

[A]t Shenandoah National Park, in Virginia, a forty-year-long record of acid rain pollution will have its first significant data gap since its inception, because the scientist in charge of collecting samples was barred from entering the park during the shutdown. And at the Hubbard Brook Long Term Ecological Monitoring site in New Hampshire, researchers trying to retrieve monitoring equipment from the far crannies of the park can’t reach their tools because their snowmobiles are locked up in Forest Service garages.

It is absolutely ridiculous. The shutdown exists and continues because Trump, fuming over new Russia revelations and a trouncing of his captured political party in November, demanded it. An ounce of courage from cowering Republicans could end it at any point. There is no reason a “wall” is any more necessary now than it was during the last two years, when a unified Republican government refused to go along with the boondoggle, and there is no reason to hold 800,000 federal workers and millions of American citizens hostage indefinitely while Trump chews the scenery.

It could end tonight, or tomorrow, with Republican votes. It would pass, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell knows full well it would. And yet we continue with these nasty, stupid little games, and the damage to every American not in charge of these things continues—and worsens.


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