Putting aside for a moment the much more fun topic of sex and relationships, let me discuss – just for today – something much more serious.
Amongst Trump’s base, who have polarized environmental issues into a left versus right debate, this is a wildly popular move. It allows them to give the middle finger concurrently to all of their sworn enemies: liberals, environmentalists, globalists, Europeans. It is a rare issue that allows them to concentrate their rage, hate and insecurity agains so many in one simple manoeuvre.
Its a sad and scary moment for the world and – despite what the Trump ‘Make America Great’ base would have us believe, its an equality sad and scary moment for America. Consider the following:
- Our globalized, technology-advanced world needs to be able to tackle global issue in a spirit of enlightened collective interest. This is way bigger than climate change. Our problems – and their solutions – confound the ability of countries to solve them unilaterally – disease transmission, terrorism, war prevention… Countries need each other and, as appealing as it can sound on the campaign trail, they cannot go it alone. NATO, the UN, WTO… they are far, far from perfect, but the world cannot function without them…. well, we can, but we will be far more unsafe, ill and poor… especially more poor. Even the most cautious estimates of the global economic benefits of trade liberalization show that trillions of dollars of economic value have been created though global trade deals. So, they are imperfect, but they are making us collectively far wealthier.
- Climate Change is real and it is a threat to social and economic ambition. There really is no debate her. 97% of scientists agree on this. While I sympathize with a confused public that is being told there is a scientific debate… they are misguided. There is a fascinating physiologic response that occurs when a person is confronted with a problems that is (i) very hard to solve; and (ii) not of immediate personal danger. They deny the problem – it into their fault.. their brains are wired this way to allow us to focus on the many problems that are of immediate danger and are solvable. But what is does on climate change… it allows the many, many people who rightly believe that climate change is hard to solve be manipulated by right wing politicians and polluting businesses into believing the science of climate change is unresolved. As a good friend of mine says “in reality, there are very few science deniers on climate change; there are solutions deniers”
- Solutions to Climate Change are at our finger tips and they are transforming the global economy. This is the most important point. Getting left behind in this global transformation is very dangerous. The world economy is transitioning to low carbon. The global market for renewable energy is worth $330 billion. Global investment in renewable energy is outpacing global investment in coal by a factor of 2:1. And energy efficiency is a $500 billion a year market. This is a lot of economic jargon, but its meaning — markets and global finance have decided that developing and deploying the technology to fight climate change is a massive economic opportunity and it is them. Businesses and markets – not governments – are driving the global transformation to a low carbon global economy. And if the US decides to sit that out…. they lose.. massively. Under Donald Trump, the US is deciding to double down on the horse and buggy in the era of the internal combustion engine; they’re buying stock in typewriters in the age of computers. This is a very, very bad economic choice and while it may save a few jobs in the coal industry over the next few years, it puts the US way behind in a global economy that moves and adapts very quickly.
The US is a fascinating country. They innovate and advance and integrate better than any country in human history. In one single country we have the driving force behind the UN, the internet, online commerce, bioengineering, streaming pornography… virtually every transformation the globe is experiencing. They are the best and most important country in the world. Its a shame to see them so scared, insular and insecure…. it won’t last.