Marty Nathan: Trump a disaster for global climate

  • In this 2007 photo, an oil transit pipeline runs across the tundra to flow station at the Prudhoe Bay oil field on Alaska's North Slope. AP FILE PHOTO

Published: 11/25/2016 11:42:59 AM

The bad news is that President-elect Donald Trump aims to cut taxes on the rich, wipe out remaining restrictions on predation by corporations, register and attack Muslims, scapegoat and deport undocumented workers and students, block voting rights for African-Americans, vacate abortion rights for women, eliminate health care options for the working poor and tear up the hard-won treaty with Iran over nuclear development.

Worse news is that he is actively planning to destroy all federal policy standing between us and global climate disaster.

2016 will be the hottest year on record. About this time last year, I wrote the same words about 2015. There is already enough greenhouse gas, mainly CO2 and methane, in the atmosphere to raise temperatures 1.5 degrees Celsius, ushering in some of the feedback loops that create runaway global warming. Our window of opportunity for action to cut emissions is very narrow. We need to start now to stop burning coal, oil and gas and convert to an economy based on conservation and renewable energy.

The Democratic Party platform, though not perfect, conveyed the urgency of the situation and provided a path for the energy transition. Hillary Clinton, previously no environmental champion for sure, rejected the Transpacific Partnership, a climate-killer, in response to Bernie Sanders’ opposition to it. Her campaign talked of making the US a “clean energy superpower.” Sanders was developing a Senate coalition, assuming a Clinton presidency and Democratic Senate majority, to create the programs needed to make the enormous transition.

Clinton did win the popular vote by 1.82 million votes, but did not win the presidency, and with majorities in the House and Senate, Trump faces few obstacles to his plans to raise emissions and end support for renewable energy.

It is hard not to note the inconsistency — no, perfidy — of his climate-change stance. He calls global warming a “hoax” and its remedy “a very expensive tax,” consistent with his investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline and his reliance in the election on the fossil-fuel infrastructure baron Koch brothers. Yet he plans to build a wall to prevent sea-level rise from destroying his Irish golf course.

One could never call Trump subtle. To understand his future energy and environmental policy, look to those whom he is appointing to key positions in his transition team and his new administration. Many are Koch-related fossil fuel moguls and their standard-bearers, set to gain billions by pushing their product. So much for his pledge to “drain the swamp.”

The head of the Koch-funded Freedom Partners, Marc Short, will serve as a senior adviser. Michael McKenna of the Koch lobbying group MWR will be advising The Donald regarding the Energy Department. Both Michael Catanzaro and Harold Hamm have been mentioned for the post of energy czar. Catanzaro lobbies for Koch Industries as well as for the fracking firm Devon Energy, while Hamm is the founder of a shale oil company and a major contributor to the Koch political funding network.

The one who has raised the most ire, though, is Myron Ebell, a climate-change denier who is heading the transition team for the EPA. His Competitive Enterprise Institute opposes environmental regulations and is funded by fossil-fuel companies including Koch and Exxon-Mobil. Ebell’s EPA working group includes David Schnare who became infamous for his hounding of leading climate scientist Michael Mann.

Rather than draining, Trump is filling the swamp with the most toxic and corrupt operators Washington has seen in a while.

Their mission is not just to prevent further progress on halting greenhouse gas emissions but to wipe out years of progress made by the Obama administration. They openly plan to:

1. Stop the United States’ participation in the United Nations climate agreement, or kill it softly by sending it to the Senate for (non)ratification. This not-very-strong agreement still is the stage on which countries continue to negotiate and ratchet up their emissions reductions. It is crucial to battling climate change. Should the U.S. pull out, huge developing countries like India have the moral and political right to wash their hands of converting from coal and oil to renewables.

2. Destroy the clean power plan. A key element of the Obama administration’s domestic plan to battle climate change, this set of regulations reining in coal-fired power plants has been tied up in the courts, allowing a new Trump administration simply to abandon it.

3. Frack more gas and build the infrastructure needed to ship it overseas.

4. Dig and burn more coal.

5. Open federal lands, offshore sites and the Arctic to drilling.

6. Build the Keystone XL pipeline and whatever other cheap mode of transport is necessary to liberate the four trillion barrels of tar sands oil from Canada.

7. Destroy the EPA which has been critical to regulating carbon pollution in the face of legislative inaction to deal with the climate crisis.

This is just the beginning. I do not have the space to explore all the planned iniquities of this profit-driven, ignorant cabal.

Trump and friends want to drill, burn and profit from all the fossil fuels still in the ground, no matter the consequences. Mann has declared that, because of the narrow time frame left to slow down climate change, a Trump administration means “game over for the climate.”

As Dr. Seuss’s Lorax said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Caring will mean lifestyle changes, but more importantly meeting, marching, writing letters, voting, coalition-building and empowering our local governments to resist. This is going to be the fight of our lives, my friends.

Dr. Marty Nathan is a mother and grandmother who lives in Northampton and works at Baystate Brightwood Health Center in Springfield. She is on the steering committee of Climate Action NOW and is a regular contributor to the Gazette Opinion page.

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