Donald Trump all too often leaves reasonable people with their mouths hanging open. So much of what he does and says seems, to the logical mind, utterly incredible and audaciously inappropriate. How, for instance, can a president of the United States repeatedly declare himself opposed to and in conflict with his own intelligence community, his own party, his own attorney general, his own cabinet? These are all firsts on the US political scene that have many people shaking their heads in disbelief.
A trick-photo joke is too close to true to be funny, when it
comes to Trump's environmental policy.
But it’s not all that hard to understand Donald Trump’s stance. He is not the president of all Americans, despite currently occupying the post of President of the United States. Trump is the president of “Trump”, chief executive of his own brand. Narcissist that he would appear to be, that brand, that trademark, that name, is all that he is loyal to. Everything else is expendable—friends, contacts, allies, his cabinet, members of the media, the general welfare of Americans and America, even the future of the planet as a whole. In Trump’s world, nothing is true unless it fits the Trump narrative.
We witnessed another patent example of this phenomenon this past week when Trump rejected out of hand a US government report that spoke in no uncertain terms about the dire treat posed by global climate change and underscored the need to act now to try to keep it from growing any worse. The congressionally mandated government report, known as the National Climate Assessment, predicts that climate change will cost the US economy 400 billion dollars, in current terms, by the end of the century. The report says that increasingly frequent wildfires that, to date, there is no effective way of controlling or combating, are already seriously affecting air quality in the Western states, and with air growing ever hotter and drier, the problem only stands to become wider-spread in the future.
The report says that "climate change is transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us."
According to the report, this includes worsening air pollution causing heart and lung problems, an increasing variety of diseases transmitted by insects, and potential for increasing fatalities as a result of heat waves and increasingly severe allergies. It also indicates that, on our current course, the kind of ever more extreme weather events that we are experiencing can only get worse.
The report is periodic and mandated by law. It is based on hundreds of previous research studies and is carried out by over a dozen government agencies and scores of independent climate, economic and health professionals. It is a highly comprehensive study that details how global warming from the burning of coal, oil and gas is hurting each region of US, and how it impacts different sectors of the economy, including energy and agriculture.
The report wasn’t supposed to be released until this month, but the Trump administration quietly leaked in on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving, when Americans flock to shopping centers and go on line en masse to take advantage of post-Thanksgiving deep discounts). According to a quote from an international policy expert at the World Resources Center, the earlier release on a date when the general public would be distracted was actually an attempt by the administration to bury the study.
Following publication of the assessment, Trump said that he has seen it, “read some of it” and “didn’t believe” that climate change would bring any serious economic impact.
Just as, in the past, Trump has claimed that he “knows more than the generals” when it comes to US strategic military interests, in this case, he appears to know more than the climate scientists, government economists and specialized federal agencies as well.
The president has several times indicated publicly that he trusts “his gut” over science. For the sake of his grandchildren and other future generations, he’d better hope that he’s not mistaking (greenhouse) gas for brain waves emanating from his gut.