I have always been an optimist, in fact I have railed against pessimism. Despite the progress we have made, the election of Donald Trump has crushed any hope that we may be able to reign in climate change. Even if we get back to sensible government in four years time we will likely be too late.
I realize that this is not what climate advocates want to hear at this time. However, we have to be real if we are to develop cogent strategies and tactics. Perhaps if enough people make the case, we can find a way influence this administration. At the very least Trump’s supporters need to be continually reminded that they have invited a climate apocalypse.
Climate activists are trying to articulate a hopeful message. However, to do so they are exagerating the prospects for climate progress.
Just as some climate deniers are simply too terrified to listen to scientists, after Trump’s victory, some people on the front lines of climate advocacy appear to be too distressed to acknowledge that this means game over for conventional efforts to engage climate action in the US.
It is a tragic turn of events, but now that we are saddled with an
administration that has a mandate to repeal US climate action, it really is game over for the current strategy based on the Paris Climate agreement. Trump’s victory has already cast a shadow over the COP22 climate talks in Morroco.
While hope is always a good thing, relying on dishonest talking points to rally the troops is unconscionable at this time. The climate movement has to get their messaging right and that means they must tell the truth about our current situation. Sadly they are reflexively reverting to the same old strategy that is unlikely to produce results under the Trump administration.
Before Trump was elected we knew that the current levels of INDCs were insufficient to keep us within the upper threshold warming limit. The election of Trump means that the world’s second largest emitter will increase its emissions and this will have global repercussions.
We can expect that market forces will contribute to more climate action. We can anticipate ongoing efforts from states, cities business and investors, however, these efforts will not be enough to keep us below the critical threshold.
We should not give up hope, but hope alone won’t get us to where we need to be. In addition to hope we need to come together and focus on new approaches that can produce results.
In the absence of climate leadership from the white house there is even more urgency to find a strategy to reduce emissions. In addition to adaptation efforts we need to consider strategies that advance carbon capture technologies and geoengineering.