Before everyone gets overly upset about Donald Trump and climate change consider this one thing: Donald Trump's denial of climate change is irrelevant.
Climate change is a scientific reality and the denial of climate change as a problem does not make the threat go away. The reality cannot be changed by the personal beliefs of the President of the United States. This is akin to King Canute demanding that the tide cease to rise. When he failed to force the Ocean to his will, he proclaimed, "let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings."
Presidents, like kings, have no authority over Nature.
And when you really think about, just what is the difference between a president that denies climate change and a Prime Minister who acknowledges it, yet acts as if he is denying it?
It is of course the politically correct thing to acknowledge climate change as a reality but none of these world leaders are actually doing the ecologically correct thing and doing something about it.
Greenpeace sent me, and thousands of others, a message yesterday. They see Trump as an opportunity to raise funds. This was the Greenpeace message:
This week, so many people have reached out about how they can help -- and there are many ways you can get involved, but one of the most direct ways for us to prepare for the threats to our climate, communities, and planet is by making a donation to Greenpeace today. The road ahead will not be easy. Trump's upcoming presidency poses a direct and real danger to our climate, our environment, and our democracy. But, Greenpeace is not going anywhere. We're not giving up -- and we are ready for this fight.
Today I received this message from the Environmental Defense Fund:
Everything that we've fought so hard to accomplish in the past eight years is under attack, and we must not waste any time fighting back. Join the fight to protect our environmental legacy by making your first online gift to EDF this weekend.
Also today, there was a message from the Sierra Club:
The next four years will be decided by how hard we fight right now. We are launching an emergency campaign to stop Trump's efforts to derail everything we've achieved. Monthly giving is the best way to support our fight. Become a Wilderness Guardian today.
I'm not sure how making contributions to Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and EDF is going to stop Trump. Not much was accomplished over the last eight years outside of promises on paper and some nice speeches by some politicians.
What will people receive in return for their donations? Certainly not any influence over Trump or the Republican Congress.
My question is this. Just how is President-elect Donald Trump any different than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?
There is this myth that Trudeau is doing something to address climate change. He's not. His energy policies are not much different than former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Trudeau has not stopped development and extraction in the Tar Sands, he's pro-pipeline, pro West Coast tanker traffic and pretty much pro anything that is going to profit the energy corporations. He even denied that the devastating fires earlier this year in Alberta were linked to climate change and chastised Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May for suggesting that it was.
But at COP 21 he said he was going to take real action on climate change.... like someday -- maybe, or maybe not.
What has the U.S. under Obama done? I mean really! Trump will not diminish the Obama, Bush and Clinton efforts. He would actually have to try hard to do less than they did.
I very vividly remember that it was Al Gore who refused to sign the Kyoto Accord and I also remember everyone in Canada and Australia giving the Americans hell for not signing that accord, yet the Canadians and the Australians were creating more greenhouse gas emissions per capita than the Americans at the time and continued to do so.
So it seems that signing a climate change agreement is more important than actually doing something about the problem and acknowledging climate change and doing nothing about it appears to be more significant than denying it and doing nothing about it.
Many people will now throw their energies into fighting Trump on this issue and this will make leaders like Turnbull in Australia and Trudeau in Canada look relatively good while they do nothing more substantial than Trump in reality.
We humans do love our illusions.
Fighting Trump on this issue will also serve to send a message to all those who voted for him that he's their man. Making the Libs, the Greenies and the Lefties angry is something that will endear him even more in their minds. They want him to be seen as the climate change denying hero. Instead we need to ignore him because climate change deniers are irrelevant to reality. By challenging the deniers, we validate them, we engage them and thus they are taken even more seriously.
"Climate change deniers are irrelevant to reality." - Captain Paul Watson
Donald Trump is not really a stupid man, although he plays the role quite well. He knows damn well that climate change is real but he needs to tell his base what they want to hear and challenging him on this helps him to send that message even stronger.
Trump is not a scientist and therefore does not need to score any points with science. He is a politician wooing people who he knew wanted to hear the message that climate change is a hoax and, as is his way, he embellished it with a silly explanation that the Chinese created it. Does he really believe that? Of course not, but he wanted the people who want to hear him deny climate change to think that he does. It's called politics, also known as the 'art of the possible'.
Confronting Trump on climate change achieves less traction than ignoring him. Saying he is a dunce with the science does not hurt him, in fact it only makes him stronger with his base and his base has demonstrated that science pulls very little weight when it comes to their self interested priorities.
What he and his climate change denying constituents will not be able to ignore is when Mother Nature continues to slap them in the face harder and harder than the year before. They can only ignore super-storms, floods, drought, rising sea levels, devastating fires, etc., for so long until the realization that something is not quite right sinks through their hard skulls into that area of their brain that can comprehend consequences
Trying to get a politician, any politician, to actually withdraw from energy addiction is akin to trying to get a hardcore junkie to lay off the needle.
The Greenpeace, Sierra Club and EDF message state that Trump poses a direct and real danger to our climate, our environment, and our democracy.
But does he? The threats to our climate, our environment and our democracy have been the same threats for decades, well before Trump. He did not just jump out of the bushes to scare us with these threats. Are the Native Americans at Standing Rock being pepper sprayed and beaten because of Trump? Did the Deepwater Horizon disaster happen because of Trump? And what could be a greater threat to our environment than BP's disaster in the Gulf and the fact that they were never really punished. If I deliberately or even accidentally poured just one barrel of oil into the harbor I would be in jail. This double standard is not Trump's creation.
I think the oligarchs would love nothing better than to scapegoat Donald Trump for their sins. He is, after all, a loose cannon in their eyes. They would much rather replace him and most likely they will. Mike Pence would be a better fit for them and they know it. Not as good as Hillary Clinton, but more manageable than Trump.
These COP conferences are accomplishing absolutely nothing but talk, talk, talk and more freaking talk. We're up to COP 22 now with this recent meeting in Morocco and without the charisma and energy of a Nichola Hulot with COP 21, hardly anyone has even heard of COP 22.
How many COP'S will there be before anything substantial is actually done. COP 33? COP 57? These charades are simply cop-outs from action.
Not one of these COP gab-fests has shut down a single coal fired generating plant or a single pipeline. Not one.
The only thing that excites any government appears to be the possibility of imposing a tax. Politicians love taxes and carbon taxes are just another scam to secure tax dollars. Carbon trading is yet another scam.
"The threats to our climate, our environment and our democracy have been the same threats for decades, well before Trump." - Captain Paul Watson
There is not a single nation that is undertaking the effort to realistically and effectively address climate change.
Is anyone shutting down fracking, drilling, open pit mining, deep water exploration? No. Is there a single nation cutting subsidies to energy companies or to the destructive fishing industries? No. Will we stop slaughtering 65 billion animals a year to reduce a carbon footprint that is even greater than that of transportation? Hell no, "I like my hamburger" is the answer.
Is there a single world leader ready to make economic sacrifices for the environment? Absolutely not.
"Oh but....," say my critics, "there are great educational programs underway." How's that working? Not that great?
Some want us to waste our energies battling Trump The climate change Denier as if that's going to accomplish anything. It won't. When will we stop reacting to the circuses so we can actually focus on taking the initiative?
My point is that Donald Trump simply is no worse and no better than all the rest of these so-called leaders whose agenda is to serve the corporations and to enrich themselves.
He won't do much but he will most likely do just as much meaning very little as Trudeau, Turnbull and May have done, or will do.
The North American Free Trade Deal happened under Clinton. The Trans-Pacific Trade Deal was an Obama goal. Trump is against it. Fracking was initiated and supported by Obama and Clinton. The embarrassment of the Dakota Access Pipeline is happening under the Obama administration.
Would Hillary Clinton have stopped it if elected? Would she actually do a damn thing to address climate change if she had won? The evidence indicates that she would have done everything to maintain the status quo which has brought all these problems to us and will present much greater problems in the near future.
I did not vote for Trump but I'm not going to pretend that on this issue, i.e. climate change, anyone else would mean anything different.
I can see fighting Trump on women's issues, LGBT+ issues, immigration issues and many more important social issues. I will support any such efforts with both passion and action BUT I have no intention of fighting Trump on climate change. To do so would simply be a distraction away from the fact that not one goddamn world leader is actually doing anything at all to address the problem. I have no intention of contributing to making them all look good compared to Trump.
Because when it comes to climate change Trump is on par with Trudeau, Turnbull, May, Hollande, Abe, Putin, and the leaders of China, Brazil, Mexico and everyone else meaning that they all are pursuing agendas that are contrary to the reality of climate change.
So where do we look for answers?
People of passion, of imagination, courage and commitment. People like Elon Musk, Gildo Pastor, Leonardo DiCaprio, James Cameron, Ethan Brown, Cyrill Gutch, John Paul DiJoria, Chief Raoni, Dale Vince, Naomi Klein, Jasmine Thomas, Wangari Maathai and so many others.
Individual passion. Individual imagination. Individual initiative. Individual courage. These are the keys to our survival.
Depending on a politician to solve any of these problems is like depending on an oil executive to promote solar energy. It is simply not in their interest or as Bill Clinton once put it, "It's the economy stupid."
That is a fact. Politicians serve the economy. They do not serve the Environment. It's like asking a high school history teacher to teach advanced math. They won't do it because they can't do it.
We need to look beyond the limited horizons of elected officials because the answers are to be found well beyond their restricted and blinkered worldview.
To paraphrase Matthew in Matthew 22:21 "Render to the Donald the things that are the Donald's."
Climate change is not one of his things and never will be. It is our thing, those of us who understand the consequences and thus it is our responsibility to explore and invent alternatives and to fight the technologies, not the hired mouthpieces of these destructive technologies.