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Climate Report’s Impact Dampened by “Take Out The Trash Day” Release

Black Friday, a “holiday” that now seems as ingrained in American culture as any, is problematic to many for several reasons, however, this year, there was further cause for their apprehension. Black Friday was used by the government to shield the public’s eyes from the Fourth National Climate Assessment, another grim assessment by the United States, on the state of global climate change. This report follows another by the UN in early October, which warned we have only 12 years until global temperatures reach catastrophic levels.

The Fourth National Climate Assessment goes into detail on the effects of climate change on facets of American life such as communities, economy, water, health, ecosystems, agriculture, infrastructure, oceans and recreations including tourism. The report also shows the interconnected nature of these impacts and outlines steps and actions that can be taken to reduce risks. Nearly every section of the report is grim and delves deeply into the effects climate change is currently having and displays what, how and who it will continue to affect in the next decade.

“Future climate change is expected to further disrupt many areas of life, exacerbating existing challenges to prosperity posed by aging and deteriorating infrastructure, stressed ecosystems, and economic inequality. Impacts within and across regions will not be distributed equally. People who are already vulnerable, including lower-income and other marginalized communities, have lower capacity to prepare for and cope with extreme weather and climate-related events and are expected to experience greater impacts.”

As unfortunate as this deceitful tactic was, it is nothing new or surprising. For years, the government has been releasing news for which they want as little publicity as possible at times such as late on a Friday, an election day or before a large travel weekend, in hopes that the chaos of an unusually busy day will stifle the spread of information. In fact, the idea of the government releasing unpleasant news on a Friday in order to lessen the reaction from the public is so prolific it was even the subject of the aptly titled Take Out The Trash Day, an episode of NBC’s late 90s drama The West Wing.

As widely used as this method of attempting to underplay the significance of a less than tasteful event by lessening the public’s reaction is, it is nonetheless questionable at best and furthers the narrative of the United States government’s lack of transparency with its citizens, especially on an issue as relevant as climate change. The move also enforces the administration’s ambivalence towards climate change as a serious issue, made even more troubling by the number of climate change deniers in the cabinet.

Though transparency with the public on domestic issues is important, issues that affect us on a global level, such as climate change, must not be smothered in the hustle and bustle of a busy travel weekend. The country, and more importantly the world, must be fully aware that the repercussions our ambivalence towards the environment and global climate change are rapidly approaching, and the consequences will be dire.

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