Of all the consequences from the presidency and subsequent efforts of Donald Trump, the most impactful and destructive continues to be the assault on truth. The notion that there was such a thing as an “alternative fact” as expressed by a White House staffer early on during the Trump administration gave birth to fake news and has prompted multiple conspiracy theories of all sorts.

Like most lies, when repeated time and time again, they have become “truths” to a cult of believers. Like many others, I’ve grown exhausted trying to talk with those who have their own set of alternative facts and have divorced themselves from time honored, historical and common-sense truths.

Far worse than all the political lies that surround us day after day are the deadly lies promoted by deniers of scientific truths, many centered on our climate crisis. To believe that our weather events are not becoming more severe and frequent, that the planet is not warming, that excessive carbon in our atmosphere is not a problem, that fresh water is not drying up, and that scientists worldwide are wrong in their predictions, is an assault on truth.

Those who deny the unfolding climate crisis also assault reality and our need to make lifestyle sacrifices. For sure, it will be very difficult to make the needed sacrifices to get humanity safely beyond the year 2050. The fear and discomfort of losing what we have worked so hard to obtain is real for all of us. Sacrifice means changing how we live, how we get around, what we eat, where we work, what we buy, how we use our leisure time and what we do to support our community.

Sacrifice will also mean accepting the need for more regulations, stronger federal, state, and local governments, and higher and more equitable taxes to cover the costs of transitions to place our communities on a livable pathway forward. The failure to make those plans now will only make our sacrifice more and more difficult later as the climate-related incidents cascade upon our children and us.

Further, fearing big governmental overreach, a loss of personal freedom and losing the right to not to make any sacrifices will compound the issue, delay action and lead us to a devastating ending. Sacrifice means putting others and the future before oneself and the present.

That’s a hard road to travel, but one we must all take.

Today, climate crisis deniers continue to lie and spew deadly misinformation. I challenge any climate crisis denier to present their “alternative facts” to a group of high school or college students.

Tell them that the world will be just fine 25 years from today. Tell them that they will be able to continue living just as their parents are now. Tell them that the scientists are giving the world “fake news.” Tell them there will be no sacrifices needed to get us to the year 2050. Tell them there is an easier road they can take.

Go ahead, and then let us know how that next generation responded to your deadly lies.

John Bossange is a board member on the South Burlington Land Trust, serves on the city’s natural resource and conservation committee, and represents South Burlington on the Champlain Valley Conservation Partnership.

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