• Ed Flattau

Last Chance

This November may be Americans’ last chance to save the planet. Potential reelection of climate-change-denier Donald Trump poses a major threat to stabilizing earth’s rising temperatures.

The Election Day showdown acquires added urgency given that the overwhelming majority of environmental scientists warn that time is running out to set things right. A scientific consensus concludes that humanity has approximately 10 years before many of climate change’s adverse effects spiral out of control. It is a challenge that by some estimates will require reductions of global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45 percent and increases in renewable energy’s annual contribution to the world’s energy mix by at least two percent.

Overcoming these challenges will be no small feats. They are especially daunting in the absence of leadership from the United States, which also happens to be runner-up to China for the world’s worst carbon polluter.

Our Election Day existentially looms large because President Trump not only rejects domestic and international remedial measures but is presiding over their reversal. He seems impervious to any obligation to engineer a transition from heavily polluting oil to relatively clean renewable energy. His zealous promotion of expanded fossil fuel production has set back climate change mitigation efforts at home and abroad.

Having already wasted precious time, we can ill afford squandering four of the next 10 pivotal years, which would likely be the case if Trump were reelected.

Trump’s appeal to immediate material gratification is a powerful elixir, regardless of any irreversible negative long-term environmental consequences.

On Election Day, we shall have a choice between Trump and a yet-to-be-selected Democrat nominee who, no matter the identity, is politically committed to reverse the President’s debilitating agenda.

Even without Trump, the next decade presents formidable challenges. They include the aforementioned need to increase renewable energy’s contribution and institution of a firmly embedded conservation ethic. Moreover, unless current energy consumption patterns dramatically change, coal is projected to still generate 25 percent of world’s electricity by 2040. Global annual energy demand is also forecast to increase 1.3 percent annually until 2040.

If renewables cannot fully alter the picture, fossil fuels will continue to dominate center stage. Unfortunately, a second term for Trump would not bode well for renewables. Witness the President’s denigration of wind power as an uneconomic eyesore, and his downplaying of solar as an immature technology.

Trump’s climate change denial at this crucial juncture of our nation’s history could arguably qualify as a crime against humanity. With his anti-Green proclivities in mind, a catchy 2020 presidential campaign slogan would be: “Protect the Planet, Vote Democrat”.


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