The Breakage Machine Meets the Climate Crisis: Trump's response to this existential planetary threat has been uniquely destructive.

AuthorMcKibben, Bill
PositionPresident Donald Trump's destructive policy and climate change denial - Essay

Besides using a GOP majority to pass a massive tax cut for the rich, Trumps tangible accomplishments are puny. Mostly he's a master of making things worse, of destruction for its own sake. He's a breakage machine.

And the timing of his quest to break things could not have been worse, because the Trump era came at the moment when the planet was already beginning to crack.

His tenure in office has coincided with the hottest temperature ever reliably recorded on planet Earth--130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4 degrees Celsius), this summer, in Trump's nation. It has coincided with the largest rainfall in U.S. history--Hurricane Harvey, which dropped more than five feet of rain on southeastern Texas in 2017. It's seen massive Midwest floods, endless West Coast fires, and unprecedented storms like Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico in 2017.

And Trump's response to all of that has been the equivalent of tossing a few rolls of paper towels. In fact, he's done worse than that, suggesting that the incredible destruction of California's Paradise fire was the fault of the locals for failing to carefully rake their forest floors.

Trump and his administration, which is packed with appointees with ties to the fossil-fuel industry, have also actively taken steps that seem designed to make the climate crisis worse: rolling back mileage standards for cars, thus undoing one of the few real climate gains of the Obama years; giving huge bailouts to oil and gas companies, even as the COVID-19 pandemic led to a decline in demand for their products; bending if not ending every possible environmental law to make it easier to build pipelines carrying yet more hydrocarbons; and opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge--the largest wildlife refuge in the country--to more oil and gas drilling.

Making matters worse, Trump has blatantly ignored all of the possibilities for advancement. He arrived in office at the end of a ten-year period that had seen extraordinarily rapid falls in the price of solar and wind power, putting him in a prime place to massively expand renewable energy.

Instead, he declared that wind turbines cause cancer. He explained to the nation that windpower--which he seems to imagine is connected directly to our appliances a la The Flintstones--would subvert his favorite pastime.


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