❝ Legend holds that King Canute brought his flatterers to the sea to show them that even a king could not command the ocean waves, that the laws of nature are more powerful than the decrees of men. So pity Donald Trump, who really believes that his executive orders can hold back the tides.
Trump is surrounded by cronies rather than flatterers, and they and their foolish, ignorant king believe that by denying climate change they can restore the wealth and glory of coal, oil, and gas. They are wrong. Greed will not reverse human-caused climate change, and Trump’s executive orders will not stop the global process of phasing out coal, oil, and gas in favor of wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, geothermal, and other low-carbon energy sources.
❝ In less than 100 days, we have learned that Trump is a man living in a fantasy world. He issues decrees, barks orders, sends out midnight Tweets, but to no avail. The facts – real ones, not his “alternative” variety – keep intervening. There is physics; there is law; there are courts; there are procedures; and there are voters, only 36% of whom approve of Trump’s job performance. There is also China, which wins technologically and diplomatically from every self-defeating move by the incompetent US president…
❝ Trump’s overriding motivation is to serve the economic interests of the US coal, oil, and gas industries, which provide ample campaign financing and media backing for the Republicans in Congress and in state governments across the country. In short, this is political corruption: government policies in exchange for campaign funds.
ExxonMobil, Chevron, the US Chamber of Commerce, and Koch Industries are all major players, and almost all of the Republican members of Congress are implicated in this disgraceful behavior. They are prepared to look like fools in public – denying climate science and global warming – as long as it keeps the campaign money flowing. Whether or not Trump himself is foolish enough to believe what he says, he knows that his executive orders play into the sweet spot of Republican power.
❝ But, as with so many of Trump’s decisions, there is more bark than bite, more bluster than reality. First, Trump can’t stop the waves, or the rising ocean levels in the case of global warming. The science is real, even if Trump is happy to show off his scientific ignorance.
Second, the world knows it’s real. Every UN member state signed the Paris climate agreement in 2015. The planet has just experienced the hottest three years on record. The oceans are warming dramatically…Trump’s cynicism and ignorance will change no minds and will attract no followers globally…
❝ In the end, we can be amazed at the foolishness of America’s president and the corruption of the US Republican Party. But we should not believe that Trump’s climate fantasies will change global reality or alter the implementation of the Paris climate agreement.
From the gullible character of American voters all the way over to activists who behold the global nature of our nation’s economy and see an ogre – the United States stands to miss out on jobs, fail at much of the world’s struggle to counter climate change. The absence of planetwide respect for our so-called leaders will continue to include a populace so far incapable of mounting successful opposition to the backwards political cabal which owns our government.
Jeff Sachs is right. This won’t stop the world – even if you want to get off at some other bus stop. But, the one step forward under Obama is taking more than two steps backwards under Trump. We’ll be playing catch-up on our domestic playing field for a decade or more. Especially if victory only replaces the wholly corrupt with the mostly inept.