Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Id That Ate the Planet Trump's Personality Won't Let Him Tackle Climate Change

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Id That Ate the Planet Trump's Personality Won't Let Him Tackle Climate Change

Article excerpt

On Tuesday the political arm of the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of America's most influential environmentalist groups, made its first ever presidential endorsement, supporting Hillary Clinton. And it's not hard to see why: Donald Trump's personality endangers the whole planet.

We're at a peculiar moment of both fear and hope when it comes to the environment. The outlook for climate change if current policies continue has never looked worse, but the prospects for turning away from the path of destruction have never looked better. Everything depends on who ends up sitting in the White House for the next few years.

The earth has been setting a series of new temperature records and a proliferation of other indicators, taken together, tell a terrifying story of looming disaster.

At the same time, though, rapid technological progress in renewable energy is making nonsense - further nonsense, that is - of the claim that nothing can be done about greenhouse-gas emissions without crippling the economy. Solar and wind power are getting cheaper each year and growing quickly even without much in the way of government incentives to switch away from fossil fuels. Provide those incentives, and there would be an energy revolution.

So, terrible things are in prospect but can be avoided with fairly modest, politically feasible steps. You may want a revolution, but we don't need one to save the planet. Right now all it would take is for America to implement the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan and other actions - which don't even require new legislation, just a Supreme Court that won't stand in their way - to let the United States continue the role it took in last year's Paris agreement, guiding the world toward sharp reductions in emissions.

But what happens if the next president is a man who doesn't believe in climate science, or in inconvenient facts of any kind?

Republican hostility to climate science and climate action is usually attributed to ideology and the power of special interests. Both surely play important roles. Free-market fundamentalists prefer rejecting science to admitting that there are times when government regulation is necessary. …

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