‘Obscene’: Mike Pence Breaks 121-Year Ban on Driving on Michigan’s Mackinac Island
Vice President Mike Pence sparked outrage on social media Saturday when he traveled in the first-ever motorcade to drive down the streets of Michigan's car-free Mackinac Island, HuffPost reported.
Pence, who traveled to the island for the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, was the first sitting vice president to ever visit the island, according to the Detroit Free Press. However, former presidents Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton all visited the island while respecting its 121-year prohibition on cars, according to HuffPost. Ford, the only sitting president to visit the island, rode around in a horse-drawn carriage, though the secret service did stash a car on the island in case of an emergency.
"This video of the cars driving on our beautiful #MackinacIsland makes my stomach turn," Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) tweeted.
Banned for a century people, and here comes the Trump Administration trampling all over it, like they do the U.S. Constitution.— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) September 22, 2019
This video of the cars driving on our beautiful #MackinacIsland makes my stomach turn. https://t.co/D8yvHN2Xr0
Pence landed on the island by helicopter and then took the eight-car motorcade to and from the hotel where the conference was held, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Some, including the ferry service that transported the vehicles to the island, defended Pence's actions on security grounds.
"Regardless of your political views, we hope you'll understand the logistical intricacies involved in securing our leaders while visiting," Shepler's Ferry wrote on Twitter, as Michigan Live reported. "We were happy to assist."
It was our honor to transport the @VP’s emergency vehicles to Mackinac Island this weekend. Regardless of your political views, we hope you’ll understand the logistical intricacies involved in securing our leaders while visiting. We were happy to assist. ⛴🙌🏽🇺🇸 #RideSheplers pic.twitter.com/yqYrrrHhrn— Shepler's Ferry (@sheplersferry) September 22, 2019
However, former Associated Press and National Journal reporter Ron Fournier, who covered former presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, said the motocade was "obscene."
"It's both the existence and size," Fournier told the Detroit Free Press. "No security expert would claim it's necessary."
Mackinac Island's ban on cars dates back to the nineteenth century, as The New York Times explained:
At the dawn of the automobile era, many small communities were concerned that noisy, smelly newfangled automobiles would scare the horses that most people depended upon, and the village of Mackinac was no exception. The village council resolved on July 6, 1898, that "the running of horseless carriages be prohibited within the limits of the village." One resident was quoted as referring to cars as "mechanical monsters."
Most of the rest of the island is state parkland, and the Mackinac Island State Park Commission followed suit in 1901, imposing a ban after Earl C. Anthony, a "summer cottager" who brought a car to the island, scared and injured some horses and several carriages were damaged.
The island does allow exceptions for emergency vehicles, snowmobiles and local government service vehicles, Michigan Live explained.
For those unfamiliar with Mackinac Island, this is what it looks like every day of the year. No cars allowed. pic.twitter.com/lc0xLGEecn— Michelle K Stenzel (@MichelleStenzel) September 21, 2019
Ironically, Pence's visit took place one day before World Car-Free Day on Sept. 22. Across the Atlantic, London Mayor Sadiq Khan closed 20 kilometers (approximately 12.4 miles) of roads in the city center Sunday in the city's largest Car-Free Day effort yet, the UN Environment Programme reported.
In Washington, DC, residents were encouraged to pledge to ditch their cars for any or all days from Sept. 21 to 23.
"Car Free Day is organized in various cities throughout the world in different ways, but with the common goal of reducing the number of cars on the streets. The benefit to greater society is a day with less traffic congestion, a greener environment and reduced gasoline demand," Car Free Metro DC explained.
🌍World #CarFreeDay was celebrated yesterday!— BYCS (@BYCS_org) September 23, 2019
We have gathered some snapshots from the network and beyond; thousands of people went out onto the streets to enjoy the freedom of #CarFreeDay.
We have read many incredible stories. Let’s keep on pedaling towards a #CarFreeWorld! pic.twitter.com/a0zqtdrhov
"Ultra-low emissions zones and investments in clean public transport technology deliver large-scale public benefits like improved air quality, better health and pedestrian-friendly cities. These efforts also have fast and long-lasting benefits for the climate by reducing carbon dioxide emissions and short-lived but highly warming particulates like black carbon," Helena Molin Valdés, head of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition Secretariat, told the UN Environment Programme.
"The Trump administration's wild-eyed attempts to reward polluters knows no bound." In my 1st @EcoWatch post today, @SierraClub and @NRDC respond to the #Trump #EPA's rollback of the #CleanWaterRule, which puts a third of U.S. drinking water at risk : https://t.co/nuPvPYTD1X— Olivia Rosane (@orosane) September 13, 2019
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The speed and scale of the response to COVID-19 by governments, businesses and individuals seems to provide hope that we can react to the climate change crisis in a similarly decisive manner - but history tells us that humans do not react to slow-moving and distant threats.
A Game of Jenga<p>Think of it as a game of Jenga and the planet's climate system as the tower. For generations, we have been slowly removing blocks. But at some point, we will remove a pivotal block, such as the collapse of one of the major global ocean circulation systems, for example the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), that will cause all or part of the global climate system to fall into a planetary emergency.</p><p>But worse still, it could cause runaway damage: Where the tipping points form a domino-like cascade, where breaching one triggers breaches of others, creating an unstoppable shift to a radically and swiftly changing climate.</p><p>One of the most concerning tipping points is mass methane release. Methane can be found in deep freeze storage within permafrost and at the bottom of the deepest oceans in the form of methane hydrates. But rising sea and air temperatures are beginning to thaw these stores of methane.</p><p>This would release a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent. This would drastically increase temperatures and rush us towards the breach of other tipping points.</p><p>This could include the acceleration of ice thaw on all three of the globe's large, land-based ice sheets – Greenland, West Antarctica and the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica. The potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is seen as a key tipping point, as its loss could eventually <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5929/901" target="_blank">raise global sea levels by 3.3 meters</a> with important regional variations.</p><p>More than that, we would be on the irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters, roughly at the rate of two meters per century, or maybe faster. Just look at the raised beaches around the world, at the last high stand of global sea level, at the end of the Pleistocene period around 120,0000 years ago, to see the evidence of such a warm world, which was just 2°C warmer than the present day.</p>
Cutting Off Circulation<p>As well as devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world, melting polar ice could set off another tipping point: a disablement to the AMOC.</p><p>This circulation system drives a northward flow of warm, salty water on the upper layers of the ocean from the tropics to the northeast Atlantic region, and a southward flow of cold water deep in the ocean.</p><p>The ocean conveyor belt has a major effect on the climate, seasonal cycles and temperature in western and northern Europe. It means the region is warmer than other areas of similar latitude.</p><p>But melting ice from the Greenland ice sheet could threaten the AMOC system. It would dilute the salty sea water in the north Atlantic, making the water lighter and less able or unable to sink. This would slow the engine that drives this ocean circulation.</p><p><a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/atlantic-conveyor-belt-has-slowed-15-per-cent-since-mid-twentieth-century" target="_blank">Recent research</a> suggests the AMOC has already weakened by around 15% since the middle of the 20th century. If this continues, it could have a major impact on the climate of the northern hemisphere, but particularly Europe. It may even lead to the <a href="https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/39731?show=full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cessation of arable farming</a> in the UK, for instance.</p><p>It may also reduce rainfall over the Amazon basin, impact the monsoon systems in Asia and, by bringing warm waters into the Southern Ocean, further destabilize ice in Antarctica and accelerate global sea level rise.</p>
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has a major effect on the climate. Praetorius (2018)
Is it Time to Declare a Climate Emergency?<p>At what stage, and at what rise in global temperatures, will these tipping points be reached? No one is entirely sure. It may take centuries, millennia or it could be imminent.</p><p>But as COVID-19 taught us, we need to prepare for the expected. We were aware of the risk of a pandemic. We also knew that we were not sufficiently prepared. But we didn't act in a meaningful manner. Thankfully, we have been able to fast-track the production of vaccines to combat COVID-19. But there is no vaccine for climate change once we have passed these tipping points.</p><p><a href="https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2021" target="_blank">We need to act now on our climate</a>. Act like these tipping points are imminent. And stop thinking of climate change as a slow-moving, long-term threat that enables us to kick the problem down the road and let future generations deal with it. We must take immediate action to reduce global warming and fulfill our commitments to the <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Paris Agreement</a>, and build resilience with these tipping points in mind.</p><p>We need to plan now to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, but we also need to plan for the impacts, such as the ability to feed everyone on the planet, develop plans to manage flood risk, as well as manage the social and geopolitical impacts of human migrations that will be a consequence of fight or flight decisions.</p><p>Breaching these tipping points would be cataclysmic and potentially far more devastating than COVID-19. Some may not enjoy hearing these messages, or consider them to be in the realm of science fiction. But if it injects a sense of urgency to make us respond to climate change like we have done to the pandemic, then we must talk more about what has happened before and will happen again.</p><p>Otherwise we will continue playing Jenga with our planet. And ultimately, there will only be one loser – us.</p>
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