The media — and many in the public — seem shocked, shocked that President Donald Trump is pursuing the policies that he ran on. It turns out that, yes, Trump actually intends to ban Muslims, kill Obamacare, and strip the government of clean energy funding and environmental protections.
We’ve seen post-election headlines like “Trump voters didn’t take him literally on Obamacare. Oops?” from the Washington Post and “It turns out we should have taken Trump literally as well as seriously: He’s really doing what he said” from Vox.
Seriously. Literally, seriously.
Consider Friday’s story from E&E News: “Fears rise about ARPA-E’s future under Trump.” It opens, “The Trump administration is stirring up jitters in the technology community that one of the Department of Energy’s main research programs could be on the chopping block.” ARPA-E is a DOE program of research and development into novel clean energy technology.
“Fears rise”? Trump is only now “stirring up jitters” in the tech community? How is any of this news?
As we reported before the election, one of Trump’s campaign promises was to gut clean energy R&D. As a candidate, Trump repeatedly vowed to zero out all federal spending on clean energy research and development. And the plan he released would also zero out all other spending on anything to do with climate change, including the government’s entire climate science effort.
Consider the December 29, ProPublica story that asks, “But will a President Trump noticeably affect the globe’s climate in ways that, say, a President Hillary Clinton would not have?”
ProPublica notes that Trump’s “rhetoric and the actions have provoked despair among many who fear a Trump presidency will tip the planet toward an overheated future” — destroying the world’s last best chance of averting catastrophic climate change.
But have no fear, ProPublica says, they ran a model that “assumes Trump’s actions could result in the United States only achieving half of its pledged reduction through 2030 under the Paris Agreement on climate change.” That would result in 11 billion extra tons of CO2 emitted from 2016 to 2030, which is no big deal, they say, because “it’s almost vanishingly small in global context.”
The big reason to worry about Trump has never been any short-term boost in U.S. CO2 emissions. It’s that at Paris, 190 countries pledged to keep ratcheting down their carbon pollution to avert catastrophic climate change, which requires going to zero sometime post-2050.
Although this has been obvious for months, ProPublica considers it news that “the real risk for climate change in a Trump presidency, according to close to a dozen experts interviewed for this story, lies … in the realm of shifts in America’s position in international affairs.”
Not sure why they had to talk to a dozen experts to figure that out. The story continues, “Trump could, for example, cancel payments pledged by the United States to a Green Climate Fund set up in 2010 to help the poorest developing countries.” It quotes a Harvard expert that “if” this happens, other rich countries may bail and that would mean “developing countries will focus on growth as opposed to low carbon growth.”
ProPublica never mentions that Trump explicitly campaigned on canceling those payments. On October 26, Trump promised to “cancel all wasteful climate change spending from Obama-Clinton, including all global warming payments to the United Nations.” As Bloomberg BNA explained at the time, “Trump has said he would also cancel commitments for an international fund to help poor nations reduce carbon pollution and adapt to climate impacts.”
But even though Trump has named a climate science denier and/or fossil fuel promoter to nearly every senior position, ProPublica still can’t imagine that Trump will use his power to kill the Paris deal outright.
If Trump and Putin work together, they have a serious shot at killing the whole deal — throwing the international community’s efforts into disarray. Since a livable climate was already on a knife’s edge after a quarter-century of ignoring increasingly dire warnings from scientists, another eight years’ delay would all but guarantee ruin for our children and the next 50 generations.
It’s long past time the media started believing Trump will do what he says.
Yes, President Trump will be catastrophically worse for the climate and our children than a President Hillary Clinton would have been.