• Ed Flattau

Rogues Gallery

Were there an environmental “Rogues Gallery” for heads of state, here are some prime candidates.

Saddled with the dubious distinction of being at the top of the list is our erstwhile leader, Donald J. Trump. He is not only AWOL pertaining to major environmental concerns but has actively worked to reverse whatever progress has been made. Trump is overseeing our withdrawal from the climate change Paris accord, isolating us from essentially the entire international community. In addition, he has rolled back scores of environmental regulations, all in the name of fostering economic growth. These regulations are designed to protect public health and are a far cry from the burdensome red tape that everyone detests. Only those fanatically loyal to Trump refuse to recognize he is “throwing the baby out with the bath water”.

Trump has exhibited contempt for the dire climate change forecasts of his own government’s scientists. He has expressed skepticism at the mainstream scientific consensus that human beings are major contributors to global warming through the burning of emission-spawning fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, his false choice of extreme environmental neglect in favor of economic growth has rubbed off on some other world leaders. Foremost among them is Brazil’s newly elected president, Jair Bolsonaro. The 63-year–old former congressman and Army captain is making noises about following in Trump’s footsteps in abandoning the Paris accord. He shares Trump’s disdain for mainstream climate science and talks of reversing national conservation policy at the behest of agro-business interests. His vision entails cutting down huge swathes of Amazon rain forest, whose vast photosynthetic oxygen–exuding properties have dubbed it the “Lungs of the Planet”.

Bolsonaro has already shifted Amazon lands reserved for indigenous tribes from the jurisdiction of the environmental department to that of the agricultural division, telegraphing plans to commercially raze primeval forest.

One of Bolsonaro’s close political associates yearns publicly for a return to rampant logging while another suggests that environmentalists pay Brazil if they want the Amazon preserved.

Does the President share these views?

Another nominee for a Rogues Gallery is Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Despite the land down under being hit hard by the early adverse effects of climate change (i.e. record- breaking droughts, floods, heat waves, etc.) Morrison displays no sense of urgency. He subscribes to the bare minimum, will not provide needed additional money to the United Nations Green Climate Fund that assists developing nations, and chastises school children for missing class to demonstrate against government tardiness in tackling global warming.

Former furniture salesman Joke Widodo is president of Indonesia and is focusing on commercial expansion despite the deforestation and fossil fuel domination playing havoc with his country. Rising sea levels and smog accumulation are bedeviling his island nation.

Then there is Vladimir Putin who talks a good game but imprisons Russian environmental activists who dare to protest such scourges as the toxic air over Siberian industrial cities and pollution of Lake Baikal, the deepest inland body of water in the world.

West African Equatorial Guinea President Obiang Nguema hoards the wealth generated by his country’s massive offshore oil deposits. Meanwhile, the majority of his people are languishing in poverty without recourse to proper sanitation and reliable supplies of potable drinking water.

Not all world leaders eligible for Gallery inclusion have been mentioned, but the heads of state specifically referenced would merit prominent placement in any exhibition hall of environmental infamy.


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