Captain Planet and the Planeteers (you can be one, too!) was a staple cartoon of the early nineties that I watched when I was a child. It gave me unrealistic expectations that there was indeed a goddess named Gaia who would one day bestow upon me a magical ring with which I would protect the environment.
Only later would I find out that Gaia was actually a drag queen who would not bestow upon me a magical ring but rather the power of fierceness. A quality that is surely as important in environmental protection.
I hadn’t watched the show for a very long time, until recently, when I was reminded of it by Scott Pruitt—the man in charge of environmental protection in the United States. After re-watching many episodes, it has become clear to me that Pruitt’s actions to undermine scientists, deny climate change science, and increase pollution across our country have clearly been taken from the series’ villains’ playbook.
So, Administrator Pruitt…
It’s time that someone gave credit to the Captain Planet villains. Here are at least seven times that Scott Pruitt has stolen their ideas.
1. Administrator Pruitt’s plan to heat up the Earth’s atmosphere by trapping the sun’s rays under a thick layer of air pollution—um, that was the villains’ Dr. Blight’s idea in the episode Heat Wave where she literally traps the sun’s rays under a thick layer of toxic smog, Mr. Pruitt.
2. Allowing pollutants into streams and tributaries, which will affect people’s drinking water. You stole that idea from Captain Planet villain Looten Plunder in the episode Don’t Drink the Water in which he leads efforts to pollute the Earth’s water supplies with various contaminants.
3. Remember that time Administrator Pruitt hijacked the Environmental Protection Agency’s websites and deleted and altered a ton of scientifically backed information so the public remains ignorant to it? The Captain Planet villain Verminous Skumm sure does from the episode Who’s Running the Show, in which he hijacks a national environmental television show and spreads misinformation about environmental protection.
4. When villain Looten Plunder took advantage of a disadvantaged community to continue the use of a toxic pesticide in the episode The Fine Print…ring a bell, anyone?
Yes, Administrator Pruitt really did that when he decided not to ban the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos, which affects the neurological development of children (mostly children of color).
5. Assigning conflicted individuals to scientific positions? Clearly, Administrator Pruitt watched the episode Greenhouse Planet that covered this when Dr. Blight (one of the villains) is assigned to be the President’s science advisor and she incorrectly informs him about the harm of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s ironic that in the episode it’s the president’s science advisor with a conflict of interest – our president doesn’t even have an official science advisor.
Any words for that one Neil?
6. Quashing the work of scientific experts? Yea, Captain Planet and the Planeteers covered that too in the episode A Perfect World where Dr. Blight attempts to trash the work of a scientist.
Even when I try to make one of my post humorous, it gets sad as all of this terrible adds up. I wish Administrator Pruitt could feel my sad.
7. One more and I promise that’s it. Basically, just the Trump administration destroying the environment and public health protections like when all the villains came together in Mission to Save Earth to create Captain Pollution.
Even though the Trump administration is borrowing their playbook from the villains of a nineties children’s cartoon, we all know what happens at the end of each one of these episodes—Captain Planet becomes a boss and saves the planet.
Unfortunately, Captain Planet isn’t real. That’s why we at the Union of Concerned Scientists are working so hard to ensure that science remains in its rightful place when your government leaders are making important policy decisions that protect (literally) our lives.
If you’re interested in helping, check out how to do that here! Science has afforded us a lot of protections including clean air, clean water, better health care, and the conservation of many of our critically important plants and animals. I’m not about to give that up. This sassy scientist is still in this fight!