Many have observed the depletion of credibility in daily discourse – causing a disturbing decline in fact-based consensus.

Yet, without a fundamental sense of shared reality, how can we collectively – as a community, state, or nation – anticipate and respond to imminent threats and opportunities?

Perplexity about this predicament was renewed when I recently learned of terminology – accepted by a federal court – for describing a rocket explosion as a “rapid unscheduled disassembly.”  This devious euphemism for an event threatening death and destruction epitomizes the abuse of language that accelerates the alarming abandonment of truth.

The impoverishment of facts that afflicts our political institutions has brought us to the brink of environmental destruction. Consider that science has verified the human causes of climate change for more than two decades, yet many elected officials still thwart actions to confront them, thereby propagating the serious consequences of rising temperatures.

Recent reports from authoritative sources reveal penalties for this reckless denial of climate disruption that are even more dangerous than anticipated.

  • Polar-ice is melting much faster than predicted, threatening coastal inundation and massive human migrations.
  • Species extinctions are alarming, ravaging nature more rapidly than at any period in millions of years.
  • Oceans, absorbing over half of greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions, are yielding much-reduced food-supplies, as acidifying marine ecosystems falter.

Though surveys reported by Yale’s Climate Connections indicate a large majority of Americans prioritize climate issues, half of their Congressional representatives obstinately disagree.

All those whose priorities encompass the future of Planet Earth must do everything possible to build broad support timely, ambitious climate actions. Although economic incentives rewarding low-carbon investments are decisively improving, time is critical and markets alone cannot be counted on to achieve desired transitions that reduce greenhouse gases soon enough to prevent catastrophe – especially in the face of ongoing subversion of truth.

Contrary to the unscrupulous forces of opposition whose pretense is concern about “deficit spending,” the trillions of dollars proposed for investing in America’s infrastructure will be amply rewarded – and, in any case, such expenditures are vital, considering the dire consequences of failing to achieve decisive reductions in GHGs. Much of the funding required – and much more worldwide – must be spent to improve efficiency in the use of energy and to upgrade clean-power transmission networks that will catapult humanity into a sustainable, successful way of living. 

Meanwhile, the feckless, partisan denial of facts will persist in seriously imperiling our democracy as well as our survival. 

Just as the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, the cost of environmental negligence is disaster on a grand scale.

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David Kyler

David Kyler

David Kyler is the co-director of the Center for a Sustainable Coast, a non-profit membership organization he co-founded in 1997. The Center works to protect, preserve, and sustain the vital natural, cultural, and economic resources of coastal Georgia.

One of David’s deepest convictions, and a founding principle of the Center, is that environmental research, scientific information, and public involvement are urgently needed to improve decisions affecting the sustainability of natural systems. Accordingly, the Center’s slogan is “Advocating responsible decisions to sustain coastal Georgia’s environment and quality of life.”

To pursue the Center’s mission, Kyler gives priority to raising public awareness about issues affecting coastal Georgia at all levels – from local to state and national, to global. He frequently publishes letters and opinion columns in Georgia newspapers, often commenting on controversial issues that require improving the analysis and coordination of both economic and environmental considerations.

In the past three years alone, on behalf of the Center David has published close to one-hundred commentaries on a range of issues, including offshore drilling, protecting Cumberland Island National Seashore, risks of contamination by coal ash and other toxic materials, coastal development controls, and conflicts between environmental protection and economic development practices.

In the past decade, under Kyler’s influence, the Center has been one of the few Georgia non-profit organizations persistently voicing alarm about the global climate crisis and the urgent need to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. In 2018 and 2019 the Center hosted several public forums on climate issues in the Savannah area and collaborated with the Climate Reality Project in organizing a rally in Savannah, scheduled to be coordinated with the international Climate Strike.

Through his work with the Center, David is helping to redefine economic self-interest by incorporating the principles of sustainability in public policies governing both economic development and environmental protection. He is convinced that systemic analysis and life-cycle assessment, including thorough evaluation of economic and societal externalities, are essential to responsible environmental stewardship.

He holds degrees from Lehigh University (BS, Industrial Engineering) and Southern Illinois University (MS, Design Science), and has completed advanced studies in Resource Management and Policy at the State University of New York at Syracuse. Mr. Kyler has worked in environmental policy analysis, regional planning, and public-interest advocacy for over 40 years. He’s been a resident of Saint Simons Island since 1977 and grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.