The election of Donald Trump on November 8, 2016, will go down in history as a tragedy of epic proportions. Trump is the most powerful climate denier the world has ever known but his ego driven incompetence extends far beyond environmental issues. Trump is making soothsayers out of those who anticipated America’s decline.
As predicted Trump immediately went to work trying to end climate action in America. He has gutted environmental safeguards and protections. In total the Trump administration is working to kill more than 60 environmental regulations. Trump has also withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accord and killed the Clean Power Plan. His budget was nothing short of an open decaration of war against the environment.
Trump and his administration are trying to avoid the climate crisis. They have removed reference to climate change in many government departments and agencies as well as strategy documents. For years national security strategy (NSS) papers described climate change as a threat. In a move that contradicts the evidence, Trump removed all mention of climate change from the most recent NSS paper.
Even worse Trump’s support for dirty energy is exacerbating climate change. In addition to dismantling environmental protections and abandoning climate mitigation, Trump has sewn divisions and frayed the fabric of American decency. He is also dismantling the venerable institutions of America’s great Republic.
LITANY OF MALFEASANCE
Trump is not only appallingly misguided as president he has continued to show that he is bereft of the most basic morality. He has endorsed a pedophile (Trump himself was accused of raping a 13 year old), provided tax cuts to the wealthy, ended net neutrality, attacked a Goldstar widow, abandoned Puerto Rican hurricane victims, and cut off health care subsidies.
Trump has also appointed some of the most unqualified people to key positions including judges and secretaries. No one better illustrates this point than Betsy Devos as the Secretary of Education. And lest we forget, Trump is engaged in a nuclear standoff with another narcissistic man-baby who he repeatedly taunts.
A look behind the scenes exposes Trump and his administration in all its dysfunctional glory. A new book by Michael Wolff, titled, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, draws upon more than 200 interviews with those who know and work with Trump. These interviews portray Trump as a complete imbecile and the workings of the White House as a comedy. The book convincingly corroborates the prevailing view that Trump is unfit to lead.
FOSSIL FUEL POWERED PRESIDENCY
Trump’s priorities are illustrated by his actions at a G-20 summit in July. At this summit, he replaced language affirming US support for climate action with a pledge to help countries to “access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently”.
Trump has leveraged his office to increase support for the coal industry despite the fact that market forces are making coal obsolete. Trump has also rolled back regulations that would have imposed higher standards on pollution from fracking operations on public lands. He resurrected oil pipelines including DAPL and the KXL and indirectly caused an environmental disaster when the latter suffered a major leak. Trump has ordered the largest national monument reduction in history and opened all US waters to oil and gas drilling including protected marine areas in the Arctic and the Atlantic.
Rick Perry, Trump’s pick to head the Department of Energy, has turned the DoE into an agency of the fossil fuel industry. Perry has proposed increasing support for coal while cutting back on renewable energy.
GOP IS COMPLICIT
Trump’s diabolical mission to eviscerate environmental protections and expand fossil fuel extraction is the brainchild of the GOP. Emboldened by their electoral victory the GOP set in motion legislative actions designed to kill both regulations and transparency. Early in 2017 Republican legislators began to sell off public lands and strip powers from federal agencies.
Shortly after being sworn into office Trump declared war on the EPA. Republicans then cut to the chase and tried to kill the EPA outright. Trump chose fossil fuel lobbyist Scott Pruitt to head the EPA and Pruitt immediately went to work decimating environmental protections and dismantling the agency he was tapped to lead. Shortly after assuming his duties as the head of the EPA Pruitt deleted almost 2000 web pages and documents related to climate change.
From coal ash to high emissions trucks Pruitt is intent on systematically removing environmental regulations in the US. None of Pruitt’s lies are more egregious than his justification for killing the Clean Power plan.
LIES: JOURNALISM AND SCIENCE
Trump is not only at war with the environment, he is at war with the truth. He is the most dishonest man ever to occupy the oval office. He may be one of the most dishonest men ever to walk the Earth. Trump lies constantly, his lies were legendary long before he became president. According to some counts, he was caught lying more than 2000 times in 2017 alone. His one time friend Bob Corker described him as, “utterly untruthful”.
According to Fact Checker blog at The Washington Post, Trump made 1,950 misleading or outright false claims in 347 days. That is an average of more than 5 lies per day.
To support his war on truth Trump has virulently attacked the media and science. He derides those who could expose him and promulgates alternative facts in an attempt to control the narrative. To achieve this end he has even tried to restrict press access. As the chief purveyor of misinformation he has radically increased the perceived legitimacy of fake news.
Trump’s incessant dishonesty is a sickness that undermines the national interest and global security. He despises science for the same reason he loathes fact-based news . Over the last year we have seen how Trump attacks anything or anyone that contradicts his deceit.
INTOLERANCE: SEXISM, RACISM, XENOPHOBIA
Trump’s intolerance has been directed at Mexicans, Muslims, refugees, and the LGBT community. Trump has given good reasons for thinking people to consider him sexist, racist and xenophobic. Trump once called the Mexicans who come to America, rapists and criminals, he has banned Muslims and refugees from entering the country and he banned members of the transgendered community from military service. By killing DACA he has also abandoned people with foreign born parents.
Trump’s sexism before the election is legendary, after becoming president he continued to post sexist tweets. The Washington Press reported that the Wolff book reveals “disgraceful details” about how badly Trump treats his wife Melania.
One of Trump’s most revolting displays came in the wake of the Charlottesville tragedy. Trump inferred that there was moral equivalency between those protesting fascism and the Nazis that marched by torchlight in Charlottesville. Trump also pardoned a racist sheriff and bashed football players for expressing their concern about the plight of black people in the US.
Trump has had conflicts with almost everyone including the people he works with. Keeping a job in his administration has become all about pandering to the president’s delusional self importance.
Trump has fired FBI Director Comey, his chief of staff Reince Priebus, his press secretary Sean Spicer, his chief Strategy advisor Steve Bannon and his communications director, AnthonyScaramucci. In all, we have seen more than a dozen top-level resignations and firings.
Trump has engaged in public battles with ranking members of his own party including Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. He has even publicly derided his own Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Trump’s unimaginable level of ignorance may make him irrelevant, but this should not be mistaken for harmless. Trump is sure to be reviled by future generations as the most ignorant and destructive human ever to hold the office of the presidency.
If we can survive Trump’s diversion tactics and miscalculations, we will get back to responsible governance. However, Trump may have slowed climate action just enough to ensure that we will not be able to keep the climate from warming beyond the upper threshold limit. As a consequence the US may be remembered as the nation that destroyed our last best hope for averting runaway climate change.
Trump is full of spectacular contradictions, perhaps the most glaring example of his doublespeak is his “make America great again” mantra. The election of Trump will live in infamy not only because it represents the end of an era but because it signals the dawn of a darkness that heralds the demise of America’s greatness.