Column: Climate change deniers now work for the EPA

In this October 2016 photo provided by ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, a scientist measures coral mortality following bleaching on the northern Great Barrier Reef, Austrlia.

Tane Sinclair-Taylor/ARC Center of Excellence via AP

In this October 2016 photo provided by ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, a scientist measures coral mortality following bleaching on the northern Great Barrier Reef, Austrlia.

The Great Barrier Reef off of Australia is dying. Scientists now say that reducing pollution and stopping overfishing won’t be enough to save it. The only cure for the heat-induced bleaching that is killing it is for the world to address climate change.

The good news on the polar ice caps is scientists say that Antarctica is gaining ice and not contributing to the overall rise of the ocean levels. The bad news is that despite that, the overall ice melting around our planet has increased, and the seas are rising.

In 2015, NASA scientists said that sea ice is melting at an average rate of 13,500 square miles since 1979. And it’s accelerating. In those early years since 1979, it was only 8,300 square miles a year. In more recent years it’s 19,500.

Scientific American reported this month that 84 percent of the United States’ 1,500 weather stations had a winter that was hotter than normal. Not a single station east of the Mississippi River reported a cooler than average winter.

According to NASA’s website, 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists agree that climate change is real, and most of them believe that human activity is the cause.

Unfortunately for those who care about the planet, the 3 percent of deniers are now in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The U.S. Senate rushed Scott Pruitt’s confirmation as the EPA director through to beat the court-ordered release of thousands of his emails. When they were finally released, after he was sworn in, they detailed what most suspected, his close ties to the fossil fuel industry.

Pruitt is just the start. The people inside the agency itself, the ones whose names we don’t know, have been hand-picked because they don’t believe in climate change. These are the people we all are relying on to keep our air and water clean and make sure we have a healthy planet to hand down to future generations.

The evidence of climate change is so overwhelming that the world was poised to take action, and did in Paris. Unfortunately for the Great Barrier Reef and our generation’s grandchildren and their children, we now have people who want to pretend it’s all a Chinese hoax.

Elections have consequences.

It may have been too late to save the world’s coral reefs even before the election of Donald Trump. But with four more years of climate deniers sticking their head in the ground, plugging their ears, and humming to themselves, you should enjoy what reefs are left now so you can tell your grandchildren about them after they are gone.

Don’t cry too much for the reefs, they will just be among the first casualties. Instead, cry for all of us and what we’re going to lose because the powerful wanted to protect their profits instead of the planet we all call home.