Honestly, I can't. I am having a hard time enjoying anything anymore, because I'm watching everything around us quickly crumble and decay. This year brought a lot of destruction that may not have been able to be prevented (see: massive hurricanes, earthquakes, wild fires, volcano eruptions), but could have been tempered with the simple belief in climate change. The scientific community's throats are sore from yelling "PLEASE BELIEVE US", and our eyes our tired from writing grant after grant after grant begging for adequate funding to find ways to minimize the destruction and better our outcomes.
In this season of light, everything is dark. There is no hope left for the new year, because we are being told to shut our mouths and follow the rules set by people who don't have the proper training, expertise, or even a hint of interest in anything but themselves.
Let's talk about the utter travesties for the sake of watching the avalanche unfold one more time:
- From the day of his inauguration, He Who Shall Not Be Named began stripping credibility from the scientific community within the US. The climate change section of the white house website was removed entirely, not to show change, but to show complete erasure of progress. The "leaders" of this country fail to see that the health and wellness of your environment is the new space race, the new cold war. Everyone is racing to undo the damage of decades of ignorance, yet here we are, stuck at the starting line because we can't even agree on a common goal.
|Image from Slate.com|
- Quickly after, in January, the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines were approved to proceed, out of chosen blindness to the fact that the systems would fail. Approving these pipelines sent a message, saying "Have faith, it will work". By November, the keystone pipeline leaked 210,000 gallons of oil into South Dakota. The message wasn't rewritten, and the spill wasn't even acknowledged by our blind leaders.
|Image of Keystone pipeline spill via USNEWS|
- We knew republicans were gunning to repeal Obamacare (aka the ACA), but we didn't see the complete disregard with which they would write their replacement bill. The worst riot of the passing of the ACA was that the healthy and wealthy were nervous about having to "wait in line" as the rest of us were magically insured. That was nothing. This year we saw people fighting for their basic needs to be met, people being violently removed from their wheelchairs, and chronically ill individuals begging for the dignity of being acknowledged. You know that sexist, old fashioned saying, "happy wife, happy life"? The 2017 version should be "healthy citizens, healthy nation", and can only be said with a similar amount of irony.
|Arrested protesters via the Denver Post|
- Access to reproductive health care was a constant battle this year, as many of the female-forward initiatives tied into Obamacare would have been threatened with the repeal. On top of that, immigration and reproductive rights overlapped with cases of state and federal attempts to deny patients access to their choice of care. Brigitte Amiri of the ACLU commented “With this case we have seen the astounding lengths this administration will go to block women from abortion care. We will not stop fighting until we have justice for every woman like Jane.” Unfortunately, history always tells us that this issue in particular will be a never-ending battle, especially with disrespectful trash leading the way.
|Planned Parenthood representation at the Women's March 2017, via HerCampus|
- US citizens that inhabit Puerto Rico were simply told to help themselves after being hit by two unbelievably massive hurricanes, one right after the other. This response, after the outpouring of love for Houston, which was also hit extremely hard, was the white house's way of saying "you're brown, so you don't count". Let's do ourselves a favor and NEVER LET THAT SENTIMENT BE SAID OR IMPLIED EVER AGAIN.
|Damage in Puerto Rico via ABC News|
- Science funding was a ridiculous mess, with He Who Shall Not Be Named and Congress not agreeing, and the outcome being...kind of all over the place. The biggest laugh comes from He Who Shall Not Be Named trying to cut NASA's funding, and then stating later that immediate future initiatives will be to go back to the moon, instead of previous calls for Mars in 2020.
|An idiot looks directly at the solar eclipse that happened earlier this year.|
- Oh wait, there was a response to the Keystone XL pipeline spill: The US is now the only nation to oppose the Paris Climate Accord. Please, continue to embarrass us.
- Also in November, we are allowed to give thanks to those who stole the land that this country was built on by celebrating the proposal of national monument land reduction -- the largest in US history. Nothing is sacred, everything will be doused in oil and profits. The future of our national parks includes drilling and mining.
|Patagonia's web-protest over the land reduction|
- Also in November, we were shown another side of the completely horrifying terror that's running the country, as He Who Shall Not Be Named threatened to lift the ban on the importation of trophy hunted elephants and ivory, but then decided to not change anything...for now.
|Kenya Wildlife Services ranger guards illegal ivory, via LA Times|
- The latest GOP tax cuts, passed in December, initially threatened to tax graduate student tuition fees that are waived as a part of their programs agreements, but didn't end up in the final, passed version. That's not to say most students seeking higher education wont have a harder time accessing and paying for it.
- As far as public health is concerned, how can we lead preventative efforts if we may not be able to say certain words? A flood of news stories claimed that the CDC had a list of banned words that they are not allowed to use, which includes "fetus", "vulnerable", "diversity", "entitlement", "transgender", "evidence-based", and "science-based". That claim has since been denied, but we'll see how things change.
|Protest of banned words via the Human Rights Campaign|
With each passing day, the situation worsens. I can link Betsy DeVos to the destruction of scientific and technological advancements in the future because STEM education will wither under her care. Challenges with our changing climate will continue to worsen, because we are not training the minds of the future to think creatively about how to tackle such problems -- or even that such problems exist, as many science textbooks don't include sections realistically representing climate change.
Everything feels like its crumbling right now, and I already feel like I know what's coming in the new year.
Happy holidays, whatever you believe in or celebrate or do this time of year.
Find some hope for science somewhere, please.