Yes. Yes, that was the intent. It has been the Republican intent throughout multiple iterations of these games through the decades. The standard operating procedure is to install ideologues inside each despised federal agency with the mission of curbing as much of the agency’s work as is feasible. Each small act of sabotage results in some percentage of the attacked career government hires giving up in disgust. Each new ideological addendum added to a government research note results in a new backlog of work after lawsuits or criticism require a review and potential purge of the spurious inclusions. It is always, always more time consuming to reverse ideological damage done to federal departments than it was to do the damage in the first place; the whole point of doing the damage in the first place was to sabotage something that exists, so that that something must be rebuilt before anyone can move on to something else.
The second point worth noting is this reminder of one of the most prominent efforts to de-staff a federal agency. It was undertaken as part grift, part intentional sabotage, and not even the Republicans most involved with the scheme much bothered with pretending otherwise.
“Two agencies within the Agriculture Department that produce climate research to help farmers lost 75 percent of their employees after the Trump administration relocated their offices in 2019 from Washington to Kansas City, Mo., according to a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental group.”
Ah yes, the let’s move entire agencies of the federal government to Republicanland with little notice and sure sucks to be you, every federal worker now required to either pack your things or resign your post. That was a subtle one.
But it’s the “produce[d] climate research to help farmers” part that ought to be setting off alarm bells. The Times report has numerous examples of specific climate research that was sabotaged by Republican ideologues looking to bar even the mention of human-caused climate change within the halls of government. It was government research intended to help prepare coastal cities for rising sea levels; research on likely heat and drought impacts; research on possible damage to the nation’s food supply; research on the national defense implications of regional climate shifts.
And, of course, federal science to help the nation’s farmers navigate climate shifts that are expected to change growing seasons, render some crops unviable in some of the locations they are currently grown, and make water a far harder-to-come-by resource than it was previously. The Republican assault on any federal agency that so much as mentioned how industrialization is now altering the nation’s and world’s climate clamped down especially hard on all the programs intended to help cope with long-predicted catastrophes.
Just as Ron DeSantis is whistling his way through a deadly Florida pandemic with vague assurances that These Things Will Happen and If You Ain’t Dead, Quit Bellyaching, the Republican ideological response to fossil-fuel-caused climate change has been to insist, above all else, that government agencies pretend it is not happening.
Do we have a few extra years to produce climate research to help American farmers understand which crops they’re going to lose their shirts on if they try planting them on the frontside of a new potential era of mega drought? No. No we most certainly do f–king not. The food supply is going to be keenly impacted by weather patterns that we’ve never seen before doing things no farmer has ever had to deal with, and Team Dear Leader went especially hard in attempts to erase, outright, government programs meant to deal with the aftermath.
It’s not just that the successful Republican sabotage of climate research will set Biden programs back a few years or has resulted in a widespread exodus of people in each agency who know what the hell they are doing. This isn’t time that we get back. Several lost years of time when attempting to re-plan how America is going to feed itself as aquifers sink and summer weather brings new “heat domes” capable of roasting both natural and farmed food resources into rotting husks is a delay that may directly translate into crop failures that didn’t have to happen, food system chaos that didn’t have to be so severe, and economic hardships that probably ought to be named after the individual ideological gadflies who tried so hard to bring them about.
We’re still largely boned either way, after a half century of knowing full well that we were turning the atmosphere of the planet into one pointedly hostile to humanity’s own well-being. But it’s still shocking how devoted current conservative movement heads continue to be, when it comes to making sure that the generation directly after their own will have to deal with as much death and destruction as possible.
It’s a trend. From DeSantis to Trump to the gross little twits bellowing that a little insurrection here and there is certainly no big deal, the cult has settled into what if we just start killing people off outright? as the ideology underpinning all the others. Pandemic? Let God sort it out. Catastrophic drought? Eh, the resulting food shortages will thin out the ranks of the poor a bit. Large segments of Florida about to duck under the ocean waves, never to come back? No worries, those people can just sell their properties and move to higher ground.
The new Republican motto appears to be that catastrophe builds character, and how dare you try to prevent Americans from building character. Keeping people alive is commie talk.