Saturday, December 17, 2016

Trump's Biggest Gamble

As the Trump team prepares to dismantle every U.S. mechanism for reducing climate change, there will be dramatic responses by those who understand the urgency of the problem. We are already seeing the early stages of war breaking out between climate savvy entities and the climate-ignorant Trump team. The Energy Department, NASA, NOAA, and the state of California are all resisting moves by the incoming administration to quash U.S. participation in the fight to save the planet.

Ignoring the problem in the U.S. for four years would make it ever more doubtful that humans and a multitude of other species will survive the century. As data is accumulated and analyzed, new positive feedback loops are seen to emerge in the developing drama of Earth's ecosystem. These include recent concerns that soil biota populate excessively in a warming environment and that lakes and chutes under the East Antarctic ice shelf could contribute to more rapid sea level rise. Another term for "positive feedback loop" is "tipping point," i.e. when something begins to fall over at an accelerating rate, without any additional help from external forces.

The Green New Deal can't wait four years if we don't want to pass more tipping points. The war against climate change may proceed apace elsewhere, but the U.S. is too culpable in contributing to the problem, and too vital in providing solutions to step out of the fight now.
Photo by NASA

Allowing climate change to proceed unimpeded is to, in effect, make war against the global south. It is a policy of culling humans, possibly with the justification that population growth is a worse threat than global warming. It kills U.S. populations, but others more immediately. It is also a gamble against the very existence of life and imposes unalterable changes on planet Earth's behavior. Are these high stakes not even more daunting than war?

In that case, it is appropriate to use the war metaphor for the struggle that should take place at home before we allow heedless policy reversal and gutted institutions to debilitate our climate warriors. Trump will probably take us to war with Iran, but the next World War might not be fought with bullets and bombs, but with smokestacks and wells, pointed South, leaving our world forever altered.  

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