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Conservatives elected Trump; now they own climate change

Posted on 10 November 2016 by John Abraham

Many of us in the United States are in deep shock and despair. The election of Donald Trump speaks of a country and a world that represents so many things that go against our deepest grains. However, as I told my children this morning, the Earth will still turn, the sun will still rise. In fact, a Trump presidency will not have the dire consequences that many of us fear – especially for people like me who will be insulated from his policies. Surely it will change the economics and courts in the US, among other things. But really, all of these are transient.

The one thing that isn’t transient is the impact this will have on climate change. It is now virtually certain the world will not meet any of its climate targets. If Trump (and the Republican-controlled Congress) stand by their pledges, we will see a major rollback of the tremendous progress that has been made on reducing emissions. A Trump presidency will likely set us back at least a decade, perhaps longer. And that is a decade we can’t afford.

The world will blow past the 2C (3.6F) target set in Paris. This means it will be difficult to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

The election also affects how we should talk about climate change. In the US, and in many other countries, opposing steps to cut carbon pollution has become a litmus test for conservative politicians. So, in this sense, conservatives now own climate change. I can just imagine the slogans, “Climate change, brought to you by your neighborhood conservatives.”

George W Bush was the worst president ever on climate change. Back then, with the reality of climate change not as widely known, it is conceivable to give voters a pass. But not now. Anyone who voted for Trump shares the responsibility for what is now inevitable. 

It’s really too bad because many conservatives certainly don’t want to destroy the Earth’s climate. Furthermore, there are some conservatives who do take climate change seriously. However, when a central belief to conservatism results in decades of inaction, it makes it impossible to avoid staring facts in the face.

Conservatives own climate change.

Conservatives own the consequences of climate change.

They own the increased droughts, more severe storms, sea level rise, and floods.

They own the heat waves, the loss of habitat and the shifting climate zones.

They own the climate refugees, the resulting political strive, and climate conflicts.

They own it all.

Liberals, both in the US and around the world, have tried to work with conservatives to devise practical plans that will reduce the threats of climate change. In the past few years there was real progress.

We had hope.

Click here to read the rest

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Comments 1 to 45:

  1. I'm doing my best here in the UK by contacting groups such as Greenpeace UK with a plan of activism. My simple idea and hope is, the moment Trump as president makes it clear he is not going to adhere to the pledges made in the Paris agreement, there should be a campaign aimed at the UK public asking them to boycott all goods and services manufactures or delivered by American owned companies.

    Trump ran with the campaign slogan 'America first' so I'm suggesting there could be a campaign called 'Planet first'. If we could start it off here in the UK maybe it could spread to other countries. I know there will be many scientists, liberal politicians and environmental activists in the US protesting against the Trump plan. They are going to be subjected to demonization and misinformation campaigns and it won't be enough - Trump & the GOP will do nothing unless the majority of American public opinion is against them. International governments may make protestations about US policy, but ultimately will do nothing, that's why there has to be a campaign organised by the people for the people.

    Here in the UK, as in many countries, we are not doing enough to meet our climate targets, but the path America has chosen takes things to a whole new level. In the UK in the 1980's we still had racism; that didn't mean that we didn't have the right to campaign against apartheid in South Africa - a campaign that was ultimately successful.

    Everyday Americans who don't realise the scale of problem may only be drawn to it if they witness palpable large scale anger and resentment in other countries. If US corporations such as Coca Cola, Starbucks and McDonalds are taking a major hit in their international operations then they'll be on Trumps back.

    Anyway, those are just my thoughts for the moment.

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  2. Some of us in countries on the other side of the world are in deep shock and despair as well. Trumps policies on climate change, social issues, and economics are all a giant leap backwards for America, but they have vast and negative global implications as well.

    I want to pick up on one point in the article. I'm reasonably well off financially,  so also insulated from the negatives. I feel sorry for blue collar people in America as they have been sucked in by economic "snake oil" and the policy platorm proposed can only hurt them badly financially. They will also be the least able to cope with climate change as money gives people flexibility.

    But what is done is done. You cannot save people from their own stupidity. It's up to the rest of the world to see the way emotion and poor reasoning has clouded Americas political thinking, and not be influenced by the outcome. We have to go our own way and push ahead with climate change mitigation, and hope Trump only lasts 4 years.

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  3. I agree, but we also need to remember that many centerist or left of centre governments around the world did little on climate change during the period 2000 - now. They said many fine things about the need for action, but then did too little, or put it in the too-hard basket.

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  4. But what the blue collar have been sold is that their jobs are going and wages stagnant because immigrants are taking their jobs and companies are shipping jobs offshore. Trump is gonna fix that (right). While that is partially true, it ignores much bigger job loss to automation and fact that people prefer cheap to homegrown. Trump isnt going to fix that.

    Essentially same issues with getting people to understand climate issues - much more appealing voices telling stories to further their political aims.

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  5. I would not agree that consevatives elected Trump.  What elected Trump was the repudiation of Clinton plus the conservative vote.

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  6. John,

    Conservatives own climate change.

    Conservatives own the consequences of climate change.

    They own the increased droughts, more severe storms, sea level rise, and floods.

    They own the heat waves, the loss of habitat and the shifting climate zones.

    They own the climate refugees, the resulting political strive, and climate conflicts.

    They own it all.

    OK, that's what happened and for at least 2 years they will also own congress. This is potentially the greatest opportunity ever actually, or the biggest disaster ever, depending on how it is handled. The mitigation plans must be carefully crafted in such a way as to be acceptable to a conservative business slanting government, maybe as a business stimulous package? Trump pledged to cut taxes, so maybe huge tax cuts for businesses with a negative carbon footprint? This way he does what he said and at the same time addresses mitigation. Maybe as I have stated many times, change the subsidies on the buffer stock schemes surrounding "king corn" along with a tax credit for verifiable increases in soil carbon on agricultural soils? That could actually lower taxes. Or approach it from Trumps promise to rebuild infrastructure? Infra structure could look very different according to what it is designed to support. It's possible some ways to address that, could also at the same time address CO2.

    I did not vote for Trump by any means. Be sure. Not with his crazy conspiracy theory blaming AGW on the Chinese. But I have been a conservative my whole life, and I am certain that it is possible to come up with a conservative acceptable mitigation plan. So instead of crying from shock, and proclaiming the end of the world, why not sharpen your pencils and find a new approach to mitigation that is acceptable to conservatives? Since they own the presidency and both houses, any plan you come up with that really is acceptable to conservatives is bound to pass right through. We could potentially flip the script on climate change in a matter of months!

    I'll even give you a hint, if the plan includes big profits for those mitigating AGW, it will be at least considered.

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  7. What I find specially disturbing is that a knowledgeable, capable and respectable voice on the Climate issue writes such a misguided opinion piece. Blaming it all on conservatives is doubly inexcusable. First, because it is factually wrong (which the author weakly acknowledges). Also, because there are approaches of a more conservative orientation that need to be considered.

    I continue to be an admirer of John Abraham's writing and climate work.

    (My own political orientation, like my sexual orientation, is blatantly obvious to all who know me and utterly irrelevant to Skeptical Science.)

    I was intellectually prepared for a Trump victory in my country’s presidential election. But emotionally I was utterly unprepared. On the day after the day after, I am still in a state of shock and unable to wrap my consciousness around it.

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  8. RB - you have agree that a problem exists before you can solve it. Good luck with that in Congress. Pigovian taxes, cap and trade, emission trading all give profits those who mitigate, all designed to appeal to right-wing, - and going nowhere. Basically all of those depend on government intervention. I wrote an article here, indeed looking for solutions that were acceptable to the political right, especially liberatarians. Reading the comments is depressing, -it would appear that if a cheap technological fix were possible, then that is okay but otherwise it is la la la - but mostly you cant get the right wing to even consider solutions because denial is so much easier. Ie if there isnt a solution to a problem that conforms to my ideology, then problem doesnt exist (as opposed to "my ideology needs to change"). I cant my head around the mindset at. I dont even get why people buy into an ideology in the first place.

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  9. Scaddenp @4, I agree and would add this.  I struggle to see how bringing back tariffs will help anyone. Tariffs will  increase the price of consumer goods, and thus inflation and interest rates, and thus mortgage rates. Everyone suffers.

    The have calculated that 60% of manufacturing job losses in America are due to automation and robotics and only 30% to immigration and "free trade".

    Even if you put back tariffs I think the only jobs they will create will be low pay production line jobs,  and bringing back more automation to America from Asia obviously doesnt really create jobs.

    I feel sorry for blue collar workers because they are the victim of things beyond their control, however the real answer is government help for people hurt and left behind, but this is on nobodies agenda!

    I dont think it helps to politicise who voted for Trump, and their ideological leanings, but its fair to say they now bear considerable responsibility for the negative effects of climate change. I have been prepared to support government initiatives and their costs, and I feel let down.

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  10. I understand the backlash against the defeatism of the article, but I understand the defeatism as well. Generally speaking, cap-and-trade and carbon taxes are the conservative, market-friendly solutions. Republicans, or at least the current Republican leadership, have rejected those as non-starters, and have made clear the only acceptable solution to them is denying the existence of a problem. It doesn't leave a lot of room to work with. 

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  11. Red Baron @ 6, nice thoughts, but hasn't Obama pushed clean energy partly on the basis it creates opportunities for profit? And it does. And Hilary Clinton has done the same.

    Nothing seems to get through to the Republicans on climate change.

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  12. @Synapsid #5: Recommended reading:

    Five things that explain Donald Trump’s stunning presidential election victory by Anthony J. Gaughan, The Conversation US, Nov 9, 2016

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  13. As the world economy is in what Chris Martenson at PeakProsperity calls a  'Predicament' (no escape from final destination) and the most likely outcome, as outlined on Ourfiniteworld, is a worldwide societal collapse Trump's contribution may be to speed up that process. This would probably lead to a massive reduction in greenhouse emissions, although not in a pleasant way.

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  14. Straight Talkin @13

    I've been thinking the same thing for a long time.  The sooner global civilization collapses, the less damage humanity will inflict on the planet.  But is this true?  I've not seen any investigations of the topic.  Does anybody know?

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  15. Here to echo Straight Talkin @ 13 here; didn't the Great Recession end up causing the single largest drop in global emissions we've seen so far? IIRC it was nearly 10%. Most of us are probalby aware that significant conservation will be required to reduce emissions quickly; energy replacement can't ramp up fast enough without significant conservation to meet in the middle. Too bad so few people seem willing to do that, because forced conservation sucks. But, it would still reduce emissions. 

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  16. I'll stick with what I know, agriculture.

    In 1945 27% of farmers in US were forced to work off farm to earn a decent living. By 2002
    93% of farmers had off-farm income to make ends meet.

    Source: Compiled by Economic
    Research Service, USDA, using
    data from Census of Agriculture
    and Census of the United States

    52.2% of those farmers principle income was off farm and only 46.1% of farmers earn net positive income from farming.

    Source: USDA-NASS, Census of Agriculture

    In 1950 farmers received 41% of the food dollar spent by consumers. Now it is 17.4% on average. Certain things like commodity grains even as low as 3%.

    Source: USDA-ERS

    In 2012 the average age of farmers was 58.3 with over 20 times more farmers over age 75 as under 25. This has been growing steadily every year, as income:cost of living ratio has dropped and the next generation simply can't afford to farm. If the next generation can't get in, then the old generation can't get out. I suspect it is probably 60 by now.

    Source: USDA-NASS, Census of Agriculture

    Now check Wikipedia for the source of all these problems:

    “Earl Lauer Butz (July 3, 1909 – February 2, 2008) was a United States government official who served as Secretary of Agriculture under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. His policies favored large-scale corporate farming and an end to New Deal programs, but he is best remembered for a series of verbal gaffes that eventually cost him his job.”

    “For example, he abolished a program that paid corn farmers to not plant all their land. (See Henry Wallace’s “Ever-Normal Granary”.) This program had attempted to prevent a national oversupply of corn and low corn prices. His mantra to farmers was “get big or get out,”[6][7] and he urged farmers to plant commodity crops like corn “from fencerow to fencerow.” These policy shifts coincided with the rise of major agribusiness corporations, and the declining financial stability of the small family farm.[8]”

    Now look at those maps that went to Trump. Small town and rural America almost all went Trump. Have you been to small town rural America recently? Clearly Earl Butz's policies had their intended results as evidenced by the stats I posted above. But what is missing from those stats is what it did to the whole economic structure of rural and small town America. Every one of those farmers forced off their land ("get big or get out") + nearly all farmers children and grandchildren, a whole culture, should be happily working the land, building houses, visiting the local hardware store, feed store, equipment supplier, sale barn, grocery store etc etc etc.... and now forced to take substandard jobs at walmart and McDonalds etc.... because when they left the farm to go work at the factories, they found the factories shut down and moved to Mexico and China? So now they are completely displaced. Off the land and no where to go! 

    In my opinion the vote for Trump had absolutely NOTHING to do with climate change. Denialism or full belief 100% is irrelevant. You really want to put forth a proposal that gets support? Figure out a way to end Butz's highly destructive policies. Replace them with policies that allow farmers back on the land and pays them to put carbon back into those depleted soils. I doesn't even need to be money from the government. Actually better if it isn't. Just end the subsidies keeping them off the land. Organic food already commands premium prices. You'll soon have an army of extremely motivated workers mitigating AGW. And you sold it as a jobs program for rural America. Doesn't even need to necessarily contain a whisper of the word "climate change". They start making money again, and that money will circulate through all those rural economies multiplying the effect.

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  17. RedBaron @ 16

    I have some homework for you to review!  Please see the comments after the article on "Before the flood".

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  18. I perfectly agree that vote for Trump had nothing to do with climate change, but as you said yourself, you also have to stop burning coal. Policies to do that require admitting first that you have to do it.

    Are you trying to say that only thing conservatives will vote for is something that makes them money?

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  19. scaddep,

    I am saying that profit is a primary motivator of people. So the trick is to figure out a way to get people who don't necessarily even understand climate science, motivated to do the right thing simply because it returns a good profit for their hard work. Not investment portfolios. And not some minimal wage working for some corporation or factory either. Rather instead their labor, for which they deserve an honest working man's wage, but that labor having a negative carbon footprint. 

    See in some ways, Butz really was a genius. He has proven that government policies can have significant effect on entire sub-populations not only in a country, but in the whole world. Now his policies where from that standpoint wildly successful. He did what he set out to accomplish. In the short term they were beneficial too. What he missed was the long term side effects, since this particular strategy had never been tried before, he had no way of knowing. People did predict it, but he didn't believe them.

    Now that we know the side effects, and how effective the strategy can be; using the same exact strategy of market intervention by government policies, but with a different end goal, should be both useful and effective.

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  20. Good analysis @RedBarron. I've posted less documented musings on Facebook as well. I see three strikes against rural America: 

    1. Wal-Mart came in, killed local businesses, depressed wages and employment, and have been extracting wealth from rural communities ever since.

    2. Corporate Agriculture has gotten between urban areas, and the surrounding rural communities that ostensibly feed them, squeezing both farmers and consumers for profit. 

    3. Propaganda-driven ignorance, aka hate radio and fox news and their ilk, have dominated these people's media exposure for decades. Fact is these rural communities are generally subsidized by social insurance transfer payments, but they've been lied to and led to believe it's others (i.e. urban blacks) getting all the government money. So, they just cut the last thread holding their own safety net together. Trump's shaping administration is already a who's who of extreme austerity policy. The cuts in social transfer payments to rural communities are going to be devastating. 

    And then, automated farming will take over. Driverless cars? Driverless tractors and combines, too. Rural America. It's what's for dinner. 

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  21. US Election Map Refocus

    This may be getting a bit to political and not enough climate, but here's a graphic I made tonight, putting a slightly different spin on the US Election map. Could people make money with 'ride service' like apps to directly connect urban consumers with rural producers in near real time, to cut out corporate ag as the profiteering middleman? 

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  22. RedBaron, thinking about this more. Firstly, laying blame on removal of subsidies isn't something I can sympathize with and the right wing here froth at the mouth at the very idea of subsidies. Tax payer subsidies to not produce so as not to depress farm prices???? I've heard of this in a Doonesbury comic but seems beyond bizarre.

    I don't know the history but beyond subsidy removal, what policies were enacted? In my experience, you could tell farmers to do x till blue in the face, but they wont do it without financial incentive. I rather suspect that instead farming changed for same drivers that industry has changed - economies of scale and automation - and wouldn't matter who was in government. You are saying that you want family farm incomes to rise (not entirely sure how that guarantees SOC increase over corporate farms but still). Doing this means that you either increase productivity or increase prices. Jobs are disappearing everywhere, not just in farming, because the route to productivity increase is automation. Do you really think a government can stop this? A policy of rage against the machines? Second option is increase prices. I don't buy the decrease supply with subsidies. You want to be paid not to work? Got another option? One I can think of is use emission trading scheme so farmers get carbon credits for increase in SOC. Farm carbon - but oh oh, needs "guvm'nt interference" and said government to recognize that carbon is a problem.

    Also seems to me that lots of people are blaming immigrants or job exports for loss of jobs. While true to some extent, it is automation doing most of the damage. 

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  23. H4x354 Got numbers and source for the wealth flow caption on that electoral map? Looks like a bit of sloganeering to me. 

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  24. Maybe some tiny glimmer of hope with several Republican senators supporting climate change and have a majority on these issues and appointments to critical positions.

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  25. I know there are lots of Americans here and you might not like the idea of the US being treated as a pariah, but the stated aims of the new US president elect amounts to a declaration of war against the planet. That is if everything that I've been reading on Skeptical Science, in the Guardian etc is correct.

    The message has been clear for a long time; there can be no more operations for the extraction of fossil fuel other than that currently underway, most of the reserves has to stay in the ground, it's going to be hard to keep warming under 2 degrees, let alone 1.5 degrees even if Countries stick to the pledges they made at Paris etc. That's what was being said before the US election. Now; if all of that was true, the situation can't have radically changed overnight and on that basis if Tump goes ahead with his proposals then there is no hope; period! There is no hope for the climate without US co-operation and the sooner people accept this, the less time we'll spend waiting for politicians in other countries to come together and do what's needed to combat climate; they can't do it without the US and, in fact the US stance could give an excuse to other countries to do nothing.

    I hate to sound over dramatic but Trump and the GOP need to see a large scale mobilisation of opposition forces before they have the chance to begin putting their war plan into effect; enough to scare them so that they back down before any real damage is done. We don't have time to wait around and see what happens - the enemies intention is clear and there is only a chance of them changing course if they are hit by a Tsunami coming at them from all directions.

    If enough ordinary, everyday, people around the world take radical action and boycott goods and services provided by US businesses, then it would be a serious threat to the American economy and potentially lead to the total failure of a Trump administration in a short space of time - that is, if he doesn't change his mind.

    I'm not some radical activist, I've never boycotted anything in my life, but I will have no qualms at all in making a pledge to a campaign that targets US businesses in reaction to the US stance on climate. In addition, a boycott against the US could lead other countries to think twice if they are thinking about not honouring the pledges they have made. Another benefit would be that it will put the issue of climate change in the spotlight in a way that's never happened before.

    I repeat my call for a boycott!

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  26. "conservatives now own climate change."  John Kenneth Galbraith: "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."  I don't want to be unkind, but I think the reason people choose conservatism is because walking away from ownership is part of its appeal.  You invade Iraq, it turns into a mess.  You walk away and blame the Iraqis: "they weren't 'ready' for democracy".  You uproot America's industrial sector and plop it down in the land of the 'dollar-a-day' labor rates, and who is to blame for the Rust Belt left behind?  It must be the liberal elite and the 'brown people'.  I don't think conservatives have any problem 'owning' climate change.  When the you-know-what hits the fan, they'll find someone else to pin the blame on.  It's part of the appeal of conservatism.

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  27. It is wrong to use the generic lable "Conservative" for this issue. Those who are Conservative but are willing to associate with people who have chosen to make-up their minds to be unacceptable impediments to the advancement of humanity to a lasting better future for all are no longer Conservatives. They are the likes of the worst type of people they have chosen to associate with. They no longer deserve to be called Conservative. They own a different description of the type of person they have chosen to be.

    As JH requested of me a while ago, I owe an article presenting my perspective, specifically regarding the simple common sense unacceptability of a portion of humanity getting away with personal benefit through actions that can be understood to be creating challenges for others who do not get to benefit, or reducing the opportunity of others to live a decent life. Particularly galling are the attempts to justify what is going on by comparing the cost of challenges that future generations will face (ignoring the lost opportunity of future generations to more meaningfully and sustainably benefit from fossil fuels that are already burned up by their predecessors) to the perceived lost opportunity of current day humans if they stopped creating future challenges and stopped reducing future opportunities. An even more unacceptable aspect of that evaluation is people who deliberately understate the future consequences and overstate the opportunity that current generations have to give up. And even more galling is including perceived increases of prosperity that are just because of expansion of activity that creates larger future problems (the way the likes of Trump want to "Make America Great Again").

    In business it is fair for a person who will suffer any and all consequences of their choice to make a comparison of future vs. short-term expectations of their options. What is clearly unacceptable is for a person to strive to only ever benefit from any action, ensuring that any negative consequence is somebody else's problem. In a nutshell that latter clearly unacceptable way of behaving is Trump's "Art of the Deal".

    My perspective basically boils down to the fundamental need for human effort that is clearly associated with helping humanity develop a sustainable better future for a robust diversity of all life on this amazing planet to be what is valued the most.

    Clearly the current systems of popularity and profitability (including the Communist experiments in places like the USSR) fail because they do not honestly honour that guiding principle. Those systems that allow impressions and perceptions to Trump fuller awareness and better understanding are destined to fail, but sadly not before they do develop damaging perceptions of success.

    Conservatives can contribute a valuable perspective on ways to adavnce humanity to a lasting better future for all.

    A new name must be given to people and groups striving to Unite all of those who have personal interests that are contrary to the advancement of humanity. They often refer to themselves as "Unite the Right" groups or as Conservatives but they are neither Right nor Conservative. What they are is people who need to change their minds if they want the freedom to participate in pursuits that may be of personal interest to them. They are the unRight, unConservative, unProgressive, unDecent, unThoughtful, unConsiderate, unCaring, the un(Anything that might be percieved to be positive or good thing).

    That group is now embarking on trying to abuse the power of Trump's unUnited States to impede and regress the advancement of humanity. Perhaps they deserve to be called unEarthlings until they change their minds (because they disrespect 'any other form of life and living' with the exception of things like their political position in support of disrespecting a woman's choice regarding the use of their bodies to deliver new offspring of males).

    They can even be referred to as unAmericans, since America has long claimed itself to be the global leader to a better future.

    This is still not a complete presentation of my perspective, but it is a fairly complete summary. There is so much to say, including that any increased awareness and improved understanding of what is going on is helpful to advance humanity. The application of the understanding needs to be honourable. And attempts to limit what will be better understood to thing that will be popular and profitable clearly will fail to be helpful.

    The better understanding of how to abuse marketing to create unjustifiable perceptions to impede the advanncement of humanity is not a good thing. And abusing the knowledge of the electoral system is not a good thing (just as abusing knowledge of the tax code is not a good thing). And figuring out how to suppress voting by selected identifiable portions of the population is not helpful, including discouraging people from voting by unacceptably making up rules that make it difficult for specific groups of people to be able to register to vote or providing fewer polling stations and less opportunity for some to be able to take the time it ends up taking to vote.

    A summary of the summary is:

    The ability to Trump-up popular support for understandably unacceptable pursuits of profit and unacceptable attitudes and actions against the advancement of a robust diversity of humanity to a lasting better future for all "Must have no Future".

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  28. Jonbo69

    I agree governments only take notice wen it hits them in the pocket, soi a boycott might be woth considering.  However, I'm not sure which government should be boycotting who!

    After Brexit and the appointment of the new Prime minister and an even more extreme right wing cabinet, the UK removed the name climate change from the relevent department

    Department of Energy & Climate Change became part of Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in July 2016

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  29. If global warming were real which state or city would you move to?

    I understand, for instance. that "global" does not involve a lot of places namely the lower 48 and Hawaii)   

    How are the polar bears doing...they must be dead by now...the pity...the shame.    Such cute cudly things who should have never signed that contract with Coke. 

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Sloganeering. (not to mention fairly hard to even figure out what you were trying to say.)

  30. Perseus

    I understand the problem which is why I wrote in my first post that:

    "Here in the UK, as in many countries, we are not doing enough to meet our climate targets, but the path America has chosen takes things to a whole new level. In the UK in the 1980's we still had racism; that didn't mean that we didn't have the right to campaign against apartheid in South Africa - a campaign that was ultimately successful."

    No-ones whiter than white here, but no-one has announced that they are going to reject Paris and steer a course in the opposite direction other than Trump. Just the scale of what he intends to do, the size of the US, the fact that US is already the largest polluter per capita of the industrialised nations etc puts the US in a totally different league

    In addition, the media storm it would generate may lead to the governments outside of the US feeling pressured into doing more to keep their commitments. The fact that Russia hasn't signed up to Paris is irrelevant - Russia doesn't have businesses or sell many goods here in the UK or many other places; a call for a boycott of Russia would be meaningless.

    I maintain that what amounts to tough sanctions against the United States may lead to the results we need. But, again, its not going to come from our governments, its going to have to come from the people.

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  31. Just another quick thought: Something needs to be done that is going to make climate change a big issue because there are likely to be so many other big issues that it is going to be competing with. For example, ISIS and similar groups are currently going to be rubbing their hands in glee. The next terrorist attack against the US either at home or abroad and Trump is going fall right into their trap; he's going to go nuts, and do something really stupid that will escalate the problem big time. We need to keep climate change in the media headlines on a continual basis, until such time as Trump changes his tune or is dumped in favour of someone sensible. 

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  32. OPOF @28

    Well said. As a specific example of twisted planning and implications for future generations, Trump wants to steeply cut taxes and massively increase spending. This will of course be stimulatory and feel good, for about 4 years, maybe even 8 years, but will add trillions to Americas debt, all for future generations to have to deal with. And Americas debt is already huge at over 90% of gdp.

    Trump might claim he can make the policy work as it could increase the tax take, but past experience under Reagon and Bush proves this has never been sufficient, and it just creates trillions in borrowing and debt.

    This will put a huge burden on future generations, and options will be limited to severe spending cuts, massive money printing Zimbabwee style, or a huge debt write off in the tradition of a third world failed nation. I honestly wonder If America is literally at risk of major collapse, and certainly major deterioration.

    And of course it reflects a selfish short term perspective fuelled by blaming problems on scapegoats such as other races, liberal elites, etc. Ironically its the Republican Parties ideology that has largely led to the massive debt problems, but the Democrats are not blameless either. Its the principle that is important.

    And of course climate science is seen as getting in the way of the concerns of current generations. Climate science is written off as a liberal or Chinese conspiracy so apparently counts for nothing, all fuelled by closed minds, greed, and frankly an alarmingly huge degree of scientific ignorance in America. It's the age of the "anti expert" where anyones reality is as good as anyone elses. I appreciate that blue collar workers have been hurt and we need to do more, but we have entered "The Age of Stupid".

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  33. Mr Trump is the best thing that could happen to US liberals, he allows them to keep justifying their emisiions profligacy... 'I must fly to New York to protest CO2 emisisons, have a long commute to work, live in a house with a green lawn in the desert' etc ... all of that, they can now blame on Mr Trump and ignore the villan looking back from the mirror failing to normalise low emissions behavior.  This was never going to be solved from the top down.

    Anyone emitting more than about 3t CO2 per annum is part of the problem, no matter the colour of your tie or what's on your lapel pin.

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  34. Trevor @34, I disagree. Trump is bad news over climate issues.

    Plenty of liberals and I dare say a few conservatives have made real progress reducing emissions. No mention of this from you, just sneering generalisations.

    Plus its unlikely owners of electricity generators are going to voluntarily reduce emissions. Mechanisms like cap and trade or carbon taxes, or regulations provide an incentive to change behaviour, and they put a price on carbon emissions which helps that process. Trump has said he will not do any of those things, and has even threatened to pull out of the Paris agreement and stop clean energy funding, and stop funding of research into the climate.

    Trump is scientifically illiterate and despite being a so called business person is economically illiterate. He will take us back decades. There are very few economists that have preached protectionism, and very few climate scientists taking a contrary view. This has all been well documented.

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  35. A slightly more succinct comment than my previous one (the quote at the end will make it seem long but it is an important quote).

    You can only claim that the Conservatives "own the problems they are creating" if they will be the ones to actually suffer all of the consequences.

    There is a clear disconnect between the ability to benefit and having to suffer the consequences. That Donald Deal Disconnect is the real problem when it comes to limiting what a portion of humanity gets away with to ensure that things only get better for all, particularly the future generations. At least in a current generation there is the possible threat of blow-back on the actual trouble-makers.

    The 1987 UN commissoned report "Our Common Future" presents an understanding of what is going on that global Leaders should demand that the Trump Administration provide an official complete, compelling, justified response to. And the response would be the basis for determining if they should be taken seriously, why they should be included in global discussions of how to advance all of humanity to a lasting better future (the only relevant reason for any global interaction). The other Global Leaders should do the same. I would expect most of them (except the few likes of Putin and that character in North Korea), would have an easier time explaining and justifying how their values and objectives and actual actions align with the guiding principle of advancing all of humanity to a lasting better future for all:

    "25. Many present efforts to guard and maintain human progress, to meet human needs, and to realize human ambitions are simply unsustainable - in both the rich and poor nations. They draw too heavily, too quickly, on already overdrawn environmental resource accounts to be affordable far into the future without bankrupting those accounts. They may show profit on the balance sheets of our generation, but our children will inherit the losses. We borrow environmental capital from future generations with no intention or prospect of repaying. They may damn us for our spendthrift ways, but they can never collect on our debt to them. We act as we do because we can get away with it: future generations do not vote; they have no political or financial power; they cannot challenge our decisions.
    26. But the results of the present profligacy are rapidly closing the options for future generations. Most of today's decision makers will be dead before the planet feels; the heavier effects of acid precipitation, global warming, ozone depletion, or widespread desertification and species loss. Most of the young voters of today will still be alive. In the Commission's hearings it was the young, those who have the most to lose, who were the harshest critics of the planet's present management."

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  36. Trump will have negligible effect on self-sustaining GHG ocean warming. Heat is trapped in ocean surface and transported polewards. Models still dwell on albedo melt and disregard year-round basal icemelt.

    Alaska Climate Research Center, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska show 2.2C warming for 2015 over south central Alaska from the 1981-2010 mean. This is well past the Paris Accord target. Pt Barrow records show October 2015 temperatures were 7.2C higher. There have been 16 record months to date. This demonstrates the warming is maritime – from flows through the 50m deep Bering Strait. Alaska was ice free during the last ice age due to differential north Pacific warming.

    The north Pacific traps heat in the ocean surface with equatorial data showing enlargement of the 30C surface water across larger areas each year since 2010. This has reduced the temperature range at the Galapagos. The volume of hot water during the warm season now is much greater than the cold tongue water from Humboldt polar current. Galapagos mean temperatures are well above the long-term 24C. The warm water has even pushed south along the temperate western Australian coasts to destroy kelp beds as far south as Perth.

    These processes are driven by the infrared GHG heat blankets. As they increase cumulatively and faster-than-exponentially, continued heat trapping is inevitable. If you keep adding blankets in bed, you will get warmer as less heat gets out. The only solution is to take blankets off, not just stop adding them.

    Increasing temperatures are already releasing huge volumes of methane from Arctic tundra and subsea shelves. These processes may already be beyond human control.

    Fortunately IPCC 6th assessment will address this in its Oceanography and Cryology report. Better late than never. However, if the warming continues, present voluntary reductions will not stop disastrous weather change from ocean warming. We are no longer dealing with climate but weather that changes each year and month.

    Only massive distributed solar wind and water energy systems have a chance of reducing the disaster. California has led the way with DOE showing costs of 2c per KWH are competitive with fossil and nuclear. There is no need for national grids and big schemes if subsidies are concentrated on individual homes, businesses and communities for total fossil free power and heat.

    Trump proposes to go back to the age of the robber barons and goldrush. Usually USA has been forward not backwards looking. California must push to move to a fossil free future in which the USA leads the world. This could lead to a head-to-head battle with China. Let us hope this is the chosen battlefield.

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  37. Anyone who voted for Trump shares the responsibility for the climate damages resulting from his presidency

    Or, equally, anyone who did not vote for Hillary Clinton.  That includes all the Democrats that could not bring themselves to vote for her.   AND all the US citizens who did not vote at all, perhaps 40% of the electorate.  So in total, a majority of the US electorate.

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  38. Conservatives own the climate problem, but they are as confused by Trump as everybody else too. We don't know what Trump is going to do and neither does he. Modern conservatives don't really care about reality, or scientific consistency, and neither do they care what happens to the earth, they trust that their myths will somehow come true and they can keep living the sweet life of overconsumption. Conspiracies and blame elements will suffice for all purposes.

    But if anything, Trump is practical, and he brave new world double talk is no sweat for him, or his supporters; what we need to do is convince him and them that they can make money by solving the problem, weather it is true or not: This is the Post Truth Trump World PTTW, which we must navigate and manage, but there is a better way.

    As you may know, I work for solutions on this scale, and with full knowledge of this 40-years-obvious political/economic condition. Trump did not invent denial he just embraced it with love and gusto.

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  39. I'm not altogether sure Trump is a climate change denier: he just said he was.

    Now he's starting to use very curious language like "Ameding": he's playing a game to throw everyone off the scent so by the time he gets things done there is nothing to complain about and the job is done.

    I could be wrong, of course. But I do hope this is the case as what else is there but hope?

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  40. @ bozzza,

     I wish you were right. Unfortunately doesn't look like this is the least according to this article in the New York Times:

    Trump’s Climate Contrarian: Myron Ebell Takes On the E.P.A.

    Now it is interesting that they are using the term "contrarian" rather than denialist. So there is the slim chance he would still enact a different sort of mitigation plan. He did leave himself a tiny bit of wiggle room. But I think it pretty unlikely. This news hit me even harder than the election results, because this signals the sort of changes in the beauracracy that can have lasting detrimental effects long after Trump is dead and gone. Just like the changes Butz made in agricultural policy. I am still in shock actually. Haven't figured out what to think or do yet.

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  41. Honestly many conservatives are clueless about science, and seem to have some deep distrust of science. I suppose it relates to religious convictions, and a preference for gut reactions over scientific data or ideas.

    Trump did support Obamas early efforts to combat climate change,  but has clearly changed his mind. I suspect he has been persuaded by some clever climate denialist. Trump has no patience for detail, and is not a big reader, so would be easy to fool over a complex issue like climate science.

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  42. John Hartz:

    Your point?

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  43. Synapsid: There are multiple reasons why the election turned out the way it did.

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  44. The leadership of many nations (and businesses) have been reluctant to behave better on climate change. And some leadership (political and business) have behaved deliberately, knowingly unacceptable on that account.

    The USA and many of its business leaders have consistently been an impediment regarding climate change. Clinton did not ratify Kyoto, and it is not clear that Gore would have been able to ratify it either.

    Though many in America (possibly the majority of Americans) have tried to move humanity forward they are stuck in the muck that is America, a muck of wealthy powerful people gleefully viciously striving to be the ones to gain unjustified advantage from any situation in a game of popularity and profitability that is rigged to be damaging (rigged by what laws get made-up and how they are enforced). And Trump is one of those people.

    The USA dragged its heels for more than a decade on reducing the sulphur in diesel. It did it because of the internal popularity and power of attempting to get a competitive advantage against other nations that actually did what could be done. It also did it as trade protectionism since machines design for lower diesel can't function on the dirtier stuff the Americans still consider "good enough" (As said by the Simpson's character Crusty the Clown on his quality seal of approval "It isn't just good - it's good enough").

    And the Trump promotion of having America profit as much as possible from its coal is just another example. He will also probably support the export for burning of the Petroleum coke waste product from the upgrading of heavy oils and bitumen, something far worse than coal. Doing so is profitable and it also does not count on America's CO2 emissions report. That needs to change. Exports of fossil fuels for burning should be counted against the nation that exported them as well as in the nation that burns them. Restricting the trade would be a very difficult transition for the global economy, but the burning needs to end so the trade of the stuff should end first, then the nations still burning their resources could more easily be pressured by other trade measures.

    This careful playing of the game by American leadership to maximize benefit for some in ways understood to be unacceptable and clearly to the detriment of others is nothing new. During the early parts of WWII many wealthy Americans were doing 'good' business with the Germans as well as with the groups the Germans were fighting to take control over. It was only when it became clear that the Germans would likely lose that the American leadership decided to drum up the popular support to finally put its national efforts towards being seen to be opposed to the Germans.

    Many other nations have failed to act more vigorously on climate change because they are trying to "Compete with the others - like the consistently deliberately damaging leadership of the USA that has deliberately failed to properly change the minds of its population because it is easier for people to deliberately drum up opposition to behaving better when behaving better would be more expensive and harder work. Obama tried to get America to be better but the House Republicans particularly the House Freedom Caucus refused to behave better. That is why Obama could not have the Paris Accord include any legal obligations, he would not have been able to sign on if it did because it would have required House and Senate apporoval. Trudeau in Canada would like to have Canadians be better, but the argument is "don't do anything unless the Americans do it" and it is very popular in support of profitability.

    The presumption that the basis of acceptability and leadership is regional popularity and profitability and the "need to compete with those who get away with less acceptable behaviour" is clearly a fatal flaw in the current socio-economic games that threatens the advancement of humanity.

    Deliberately deceptive appeals to greed or intolerance can easily tempt people to choose to support bad behaviour in the hopes of being part of the "winning group". Getting away with understandably unacceptable behaviour is clearly a competitive advantage. That is how groups like ISIS get support and temporarily win. And it is also how the Trump Republicans got their damaging undeserved "Win".

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  45. @Red Baron:  For the record, I'm a card-carrying liberal...and I wholeheartedly agree with your approach.  Make it potentially wallet-fattening to support mitigation, and the stogie-chompers will come a-runnin.  (No offense).  

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