Is the Government Shutdown Over Yet?

Yes, I know this topic has been in the news a lot since it happened last week, and there is even a hilarious website dedicated to the shutdown (http://isthegovernmentstillshutdown.com/). However, this is no joking matter, and I personally have been seeing changes to my every day life as a student.

Because of the shutdown, I couldn't access data from NOAA.
Because of the shutdown, I couldn’t access data from NOAA.

As a student, this was the worst time for the government to shut down (but is there really a good time??) because I need federal environmental data for my classes. While trying to find an environmental trend for my reporting class, I went through NOAA, NASA and several other government websites that are shut down and not showing any data. In my ecology class, I have to access the web soil survey data, which is also down.

Of course, there are also the plethora of other problems in the environmental world, like the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service employees not working. Also, the National Parks being shut down has been a huge downfall from the shutdown in the Western United States. But the shutdown doesn’t only apply to the Parks.. it applies to any federal lands, like wilderness areas and wildlife refuges, and other potentially urban structures, like National Monuments. This lowers tourism revenue from states like California, Wyoming, Montana, Arizona, and Nevada, to name a few Western states.

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Luckily, I got to visit Glacier National Park before the shutdown. This is from a trip in early September.

Because of this problem, the Huffington Post has created a list of other natural sites that you can visit if you were planning a National Park vacation.

I am actually surprised that the shutdown has lasted this long, and there will be larger, more detrimental effects in the environmental world from this if it isn’t resolved soon. Superfund sites will not be cleaned up (like this toxic canal in Brooklyn that was just cleared for cleanup), FDA food safety inspections are piling up (so don’t eat seafood until this is over), the Center for Disease Control is halting its flu shot program (so don’t leave your house), along with more federal benefits being shut down as well (which I am no expert in and are highlighted in this CNN article). Perhaps the most tragic: the baby panda cam is shut down. We can’t even be comforted by fuzzy animals from the comfort of our computer screens during the shutdown!

However, there has been one good thing that has come from this shutdown: Inhabit speculates that the US is saving energy, and therefore cutting down on emissions, during this period of shutdown. They report that thousands of employees not working is cutting down on carbon emissions from transportation, and the buildings being empty (and computers/electronics being turned off) leads to decreased energy use as well.

Clearly, there are many environmental impacts of the shutdown, and we are all beginning to feel them. If I could only do my homework…

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