The Planet and the Donald

A New York Times opinion editorial, April 20th 2017:
Will we recover from the Trump presidency? Perhaps not: The thing with climate change is we don´t have much time, and not much is happening — so what happens when what little is happening gets reversed? 

“President Trump’s environmental onslaught will have immediate, dangerous effects. He has vowed to reopen coal mines and moved to keep the dirtiest power plants open for many years into the future. Dirty air, the kind you get around coal-fired power plants, kills people.

It’s much the same as his policies on health care or refugees: Real people (the poorest and most vulnerable people) will be hurt in real time. That’s why the resistance has been so fierce.

But there’s an extra dimension to the environmental damage. What Mr. Trump is trying to do to the planet’s climate will play out over geologic time as well. In fact, it’s time itself that he’s stealing from us.

What I mean is, we have only a short window to deal with the climate crisis or else we forever lose the chance to thwart truly catastrophic heating.”

Behind this particular article is a concern with President Trump´s coal energy policies, rolling back key legislation from the Obama administration. Behind it is a much deeper and more profound doubt, however. First, there is the general ideology behind Trump environmental policies, to the extent that there is one. It is not just the push to renew coal production facilities; it is the general neglect of the role of states and governments in setting frameworks and limits allowing us as a world to reach the Paris accords from 2015, where the world’s nations pledged to do all they could to hold the rise of the planet’s temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

Next, there is the issue of the vested interests let loose, far beyond the coal industry concerns with work,  after the election of Donald Trump, bleeding over into near every area of government; the plutocratic order, the lack of restraints in peddling to corporate interests, and the general will to not make good on campaign promises to those marginalized groups who won Donald Trump the election – causing perhaps more turmoil and lack of faith in the political order than what we might be seeing yet. 

Also, there is the issue of the role of news, journalism, and media framing. I could serve up a few hundred links on that one right now, but let this one be enough. And perhaps have a go at some of the other links above. There is a truly interesting and deeply story unfolding. 

As a reader of the New York Times, one might experience a certain sense of relief every time that paper does what real journalism should be doing – which is to be critical of abuses of power, lack of democratic vision, lack of wise foresight. To be honest, one might be more uncertain of the media more generally – for what most people consume of information on a daily basis may have very little bearing on the general will in the international population to actually begin contemplating the scenario where everyone has to begin giving more: A scenario where nature rather than politics determine the timeliness of action. 

Accordingly, watching the climate as a news story may arguably be one of the most important things to watch in an age of global Trump. As coral reefs disappear, so does public trust in politics and politicians perhaps? The truly dangerous thing to observe about democratic politics is what happens when people stop believing that it matters – that they have an influence. That will be the end of a very bad beginning for Trump, or the beginning of a very bad end for the rest of us. According to this particular New York Times article. 

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