Barrack Obama has recently released a statement stressing concern over the possibility of environmental accomplishments being reversed and eradicated by the tsunami that is ‘Trump ignorance’…
Now, after reading this headline, surely you must be thinking:
“Oh no! Not another opinion on Trump! Why’s he decided on such a common subject?!”
Why you ask? It is because I am angry. Fuming in fact. Like I’m sure most people are if they want to see the environment survive the next century.
Now, just before President Trump’s final inauguration, I’m sure in all of us there was a tiny shred of hope as I know there was in me. I found the voice in my head telling myself:
‘Maybe this isn’t the end of the world?’
‘Trump did say he was going to look at Climate Change with an ‘open view’.’
‘China’s special representative for climate change, Xie Zhenhua, is even saying he is not concerned.’
‘Maybe this could even be a good thing for energy policy?’
Well that tiny shred of hope has now most definitely been well and truly swept away.
In just an opening fortnight President Trump has decreed the expansion of major fossil fuel developments including the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. Obama had blocked the progress of both projects due to environmental concerns, amidst a flurry of protests from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and climate change activists. Trump has now reversed this, arguing on the basis of the ‘28,000 construction jobs created’.
This is not all. Trump and his leadership team have also made it clear they intend to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. The agreement was a massive step forward where nations of the world ‘committed to reductions that get us half way from where we would otherwise be headed (more than 5C warming of the planet relative to pre-industrial temperatures by the end of the century) and to where we need to be (stabilisation of warming below 2C or so)’.
So was Obama right to be concerned that his environmental legacy will be left diminished?
Yes. Of course he was.
Trump and co are not exactly being subtle in their intentions to dismantle many of Obama’s climate change initiatives that were put in place in what can be looked back upon now as a ‘golden era’ of new hope for environmentalists. That which is now set to be crushed – if it has not been crushed already – under the oncoming tsunami wave that is ‘Trump ignorance’.
In the midst of this mentality of sheer ignorance towards environmental issues swarming over the US nation under Trump control, I find myself drawn to the phrase:
‘Some men would see the world in flames, if they thought they would get to rule over the ashes’.
Whilst I could happily vilify President Trump and blame him for almost every problem concerning US energy policy, it is what he represents that needs to draw our barrels. It is the climate change denial industry, consisting of: major fossil fuel corporations, industry groups, lobbyists, “free-enterprise” think-tanks and conservative politicians, which has proved highly influential in the US. This industry achieves its aims by sinking its tendrils into the process of making energy policies, and delaying the policies that are desperately needed to make the transition to a decarbonised economy.
Much like in the case of tobacco, companies with fossil fuel dependencies have attacked mainstream climate science to confuse the public and policymakers about the reality and threat of anthropogenic climate forcing. Attacks have also been targeted at climate scientists, through right-wing lobbying, conservative politicians, harassment through the media and social media, job insecurities and even death threats, as reported in ‘The Hockey Stick and The Climate Wars’ (Michael Mann being one of these scientists). This has been halting research and money put into the issue for years.
So yes, that’s right. We are very much at war against ‘The Empire’ in the midst of the ‘Climate Wars’. It just so happens that Trump is the big orange face attached to the banner.
However, despite all my doom and gloom, I am certain there is still time to turn this around. Whilst Xie Zhenhua the Chinese minister in charge of Climate Change, in my opinion, was wrong to not be concerned by Trump, he did raise a good point:
Although this global trend I believe cannot be ‘reversed’ by a single leader I do fear it can be significantly damaged by Trump. One possible demonstration of this is that it can be argued that his example has ultimately influenced the Australian government to encourage its spending on coal.
This is why the trend for industrial upgrades must continue, and the influence must shift away from politics to a more private sector led demand for sustainable growth. This would work towards removing the politically-motivated Climate Change denialism and put the US one foot in the door towards widespread Climate Change acceptance.
I also feel this could aid the creation of a third party power to be in charge of Climate Change matters and achieving Climate Change targets. This third party, unlike politicians, would have one goal in mind concerning carbon emissions, so it can remain strong and uninfluenced. A tsunami wall against Trump ignorance and other matters which can be swayed by the Climate Change denial industry (‘The Empire’ as I now like to call them).
I believe there also needs to be more pressure put on the Trump administration by the International community and US citizens to keep clean energy policies. So far I feel that Trump has been able to signal his intentions to drop out of the US’ Paris commitments, with too little backlash. Climate Change is a global issue and so is energy usage. The only way to tackle an issue that affects us all is to tackle it as a global communitive.
I feel this should be of the utmost priority, and each citizen should feel a sense of responsibility to make this happen. Global communication and good international relations are vital to solving any global issue.