Careful what you wish

December 28,2016

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Electoral democracy has largely failed. It has been captured by big corporates, suborned and crudified (de-deliberationised) by the corporate media, and sidelined by neoliberal globalisation (and the consequent minute-by-minute power of ‘the markets’).

Perhaps the most spectacular ever instance of the failing of electoral democracy has been very recent indeed: it is the election of Donald Trump to (what is still, even now) the most powerful office in the world.

Probably the most dire but predictable global effect of a Trump Presidency is its catastrophic impact on climate-policy and energy-policy. The most senior salient offices in the land are now stuffed full of the most egregious know-nothing climate-deniers. These people will be busy from Day One of the new administration, actively bringing about the deaths of people all over the world (and especially, in the future) from climate-disasters that would otherwise not occur or that would otherwise not be so severe.

We must make the most of the good news that there already is: such as Obama’s ban on Arctic offshore drilling, which may prove difficult for Trump to reverse: We must seek to ensure that it is. For we know the hard truth: that even if humanity burns only that part of Earth’s fossil fuel reserves that is already accessible, that would be enough to virtually guarantee runaway climate change.

But the point of this piece is to warn you about something that might take the wind out of our sails, something which might risk taking the heart right out of our fight. You heard it here first: sometime in 2017, I suspect that Trump will have a ‘climate moment’. Sometime next year, the American President will probably issue a partial mea culpa, and tell us that he now ‘gets it’ on climate: That human activity IS changing our planet’s climate, and not for the better, after all.

And (if and) when this happens, be prepared. Be prepared for a tidal wave of foolishness from the media about how Trump isn’t as bad as we all thought he was. And for a huge collective sigh of relief from across the world – perhaps we still have a chance on climate, after all, if even Trump can ‘get it’.

Be prepared: because this ‘change of heart’ will not be half as good news as it seems. It might not even be good news at all.

To understand why, we need to understand better why Trump will most likely claim at some point in 2017 to ‘get it’ on climate.

The process has actually already begun. Trump has pulled back somewhat from his previous full-on climate-denialism, to a position of ‘agnosticism‘ on the issue: Why? Because Trump’s climate-denialism in the election period was partly just a pose, to shore up support among Republicans, and to epater les bourgeois. Now that, incredibly, he has made it all the way to the White House, he can afford to stand back and look more ‘Presidential’, less extreme. A position of studied agnosticism fits the bill nicely.

Meanwhile, as I say, the Administration that he heads is getting stuffed full of climate-deniers. They will be working gung-ho to re-fossilise the US economy, and are thus preparing the ground to harvest the faster destruction of the future of our living planet.

Already, Trump and his aides will be receiving briefings every day from those Government agencies that are well aware of the reality and disastrous consequences of human-triggered dangerous climate change. Foremost among these, perhaps, will be the Pentagon, which has a long record now of being part of the ‘reality-based community’ on climate.

This constant drip-drip of truth into the awesomely thick skulls (and thin skins) of Trump and his team will gradually have its effect. Sooner or later, Trump will most likely decide that the moment is ripe to accept reality.

The scariest possibility of all, by far, is that a climate ‘wake-up call’ for Trump could take him in the same direction that a number of influential voices have already moved in: that of climate-engineering or ‘geo-engineering’. The extreme moral hazard of climate-engineering, of course, is that it provides the perfect seeming-excuse for not bothering to rein in our GHG emissions.

This article has been excerpted from: ‘Trump’s Coming Climate Moment: Careful What You Wish For’. Courtesy:


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