"All the proposals I've seen so far that would address any of these issues would devastate the U.S. economy and have little or no benefit that is demonstrable from our standpoint. And so I have yet to see a proposal that would bring this about. I think if we're going to move away from fossil fuels, it's got to be done through innovation. And innovation can be choked out through excessive government regulation."
He doesn't mention regulation like a tariff on solar panels. He has no proposal of his own. He's not even sure fossil fuels are bad ("if we're going to move away from fossil fuels"). For the foreseeable future the Mike Lees of the world, who hold positions of power everywhere, are content to let the planet creep toward further catastrophe rather than disturb the profit centers of their patrons. He may as well as have said, "I don't believe it."
While it is true that climate change is a global problem that needs a global solution, it is also true that the U.S. is the single largest contributor of greenhouse gases driving the problem. And the U.S. is led by people committed to creating ever more greenhouse gases until some uncertain future date when something unspecified will change their course. In February, the U.S. Energy Department reported that there was likely to be no decrease in U.S. carbon emissions for more than 30 years. That would mean the rest of the world would have to achieve zero carbon emissions, immediately, just to maintain the already damaging status quo.
Thirty years ago, Bill McKibben published "The End of Nature," an early warning about what was then called "the greenhouse effect." McKibben's recent piece in the New Yorker of November 26th is a long, angry, despairing piece about our collective path to self-destruction:
"The extra heat that we trap near the planet every day is equivalent to the heat from four hundred thousand [400,000] bombs the size of the one that was dropped on Hiroshima.
"As a result, in the past 30 years we've seen all 20 of the hottest years ever recorded. The melting of ice caps and glaciers and the rising levels of our oceans and seas, initially predicted for the end of the century, have occurred decades early. 'I've never been at ... a climate conference where people say 'that happened slower than I thought it would,' Christina Hulbe, a New Zealand climatologist, told a reporter for Grist last year.
"All this has played out more or less as scientists warned, albeit faster. What has defied expectations is the slowness of the response. The climatologist James Hansen testified before Congress about the dangers of human-caused climate change 30 years ago."
The cultural vacuity of American leadership is as stunning as is it self-willed. Confronted with an official U.S. government report, American leadership chooses to ignore three decades of conscientious, consistent, accumulating research that a real problem is getting steadily worse, choosing instead to ignore, deny, lie, and maintain the policy that feeds the crisis. This is beyond rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. This is maintaining full speed ahead while betting that there are no icebergs.
No matter what happens next, the failed American leadership of the past 30 years has assured that we, and the rest of the world, will go on suffering unnecessary losses for a long time into the future. Perhaps the new Democrats in Congress will force the failed party leadership to adopt a "Green New Deal" and perhaps, in time, that can make some difference, though it's too late to make much difference in time. But that's one of the two grim choices we face: do something to reduce carbon emissions as quickly as possible and risk the possibly severe economic consequences.
The other choice is to follow current policy and risk almost certain, severe economic consequence -- as well as severe ecological consequences -- as well as severe consequences to human well being, health, and life. This is the path of Trump's climate leadership, and it is fraudulent, irresponsible, and criminal.
Criminal? We have seen the carnage caused by climate change already. We know there will be more and worse to come unless we take efforts to mitigate the consequences. Trump shows no evidence that he knows the risk or cares about it, so how is that not criminal negligence on a global scale? Lock him up.
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