Trump’s Republicans: A Threat to Sustainability?

Celia Tsigka

By Celia Tsigka, Politics Correspondent

Between them, the September 2017 Hurricane Irma and Louisiana flood of August 2016 accounted for damages up to $65bn and threatened the survival of hundreds of people. These are two examples of recent natural disasters on American soil, associated by many climate scientists with climate change, demonstrating in only one way the urgent need for sustainable development. Yet the American electorate, in November 2016, has voted for a candidate determined to create a government which, according to widely respected American linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky, is “dedicated to racing as rapidly as possible to the destruction of organized human life”. Donald Trump.

What are the features of Trump’s Republican Party that make it so dangerous after all? In a nutshell, what is pursued by the also known as the “Grand Old Party” is the exhaustive use of fossil fuels, primarily coal, the degradation of environmental standards and the authorisation of extensive oil drilling campaigns. Has Trump undertook extreme actions that serve such growth-maximizing interests? More than once, therefore showcasing a megalomania that can only be resembled to such of an unscrupulous leader in a “liberal dictatorship”.

On 4 August 2017 the Trump administration formally withdrew from the Paris Agreement which promoted international cooperation to tackle the question of climate change under the UNFCCC. Removing one of the world’s greatest powers from international sustainability schemes seems to be rushing humanity towards the brink of its annihilation and yet it is justified by a far-right economic policy that ends up accumulating most of US wealth in only 1% of the American population, since 1962, according to the Survey of Consumer Finances. The opportunity for environmental deregulation and thus lower costs of production in the Party’s close affiliate – fossil-fuel “Koch Industries”- was seized and it certainly was and still is a decisive medium of consolidating Trump’s power over his political antagonists.

While the American President considers the Republican Party to be innovative and technologically groundbreaking, in fact he attempts to recreate the 1700s Industrial Revolution in 2018 with the exception that the last three decades are dominated to the greatest extent by an uninterrupted struggle against resource scarcity. While he promises to “Make America Great Again”, he essentially calls for new fossil-fuel infrastructure instead of increasing government spending on renewable energy, considering particularly that current spending constitutes only 33% of the equivalent Chinese amount. Ironically, the only proposition of such an investment regards the imminent Wall separating the US from Mexico being covered by solar panels, meaning that Trump’s incentive to invest in any kind of sustainable growth is to meet his racist ends and achieve both economic and physical isolation. This very type of physical isolationism also seems to threaten the survival of numerous species, as the introduction of a man-made border will hinder animal migration associated with climate change, thus rendering the jaguar and the Mexican wolf in a state of jeopardy.

Without Trump in the picture, it was estimated that, by 2100, atmosphere CO2 emissions would have reached a maximum of 100 billion tons compared to today’s 34 billion, followed by a temperature increase of 4°C. However, as long as the Republicans set the productive output agendas, such an estimation is expected to change. Donald Trump doesn’t seem to be affected, though, as he refuses to accept the scientific nature of this human-induced warming trend but rather refers to global warming as a “Chinese hoax” aiming at sabotaging US markets.

The revocation of Obama’s “Clean Power Plan” in October 2017 as well as the suspension of funds directed to NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System, which measures the atmosphere CO2 and methane concentration, in April 2018, are the flesh and blood of Trump’s ignorance towards the alarming issue of global warming. And this seems to be only the very beginning of what he is capable of.

We have already reached such a tipping point in climate destruction and we must face the possibility that no major green initiative might be able to solve after Trump’s term of office. The survival of future generations might be hanging on the results of the 2018 midterm US elections. Will they break Trump’s presidency or, as Noam Chomsky would say, will lead to us “racing to the cliff as fast as possible”?

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