US: Climate change denier takes power

Since taking power Donald Trump has a) given the go ahead to Keystone XL and Dakota pipelines b) forbidden scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency from speaking to the media and said they will have to submit their work to the White House for review before it is published c) Removed all reference to climate change from the White House website. These actions have provoked a number of scientists to call a demonstration against the new Trump regime. The following article is from the latest edition of “The Socialist”. 

By Aprille Scully

Donald Trump, the right wing, racist, sexist billionaire, epitomises corporate culture in every way. As a worshiper of the free market he wilfully denies that our planet is under threat from environmental destruction.

Trump’s choice for secretary of state is multi-millionaire Rex Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon Mobile. The company has spent millions on propaganda denying the existence of climate change. Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney-general, has been selected to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Trump. Pruitt, like Trump, deems global warming “a hoax”. Pruitt has condemned the EPA as “interfering” with the free market.

Oil and gas lobbies

How can individuals, who have a vested interest in the continuation of fossil fuel energy, be in such positions? Obviously it is not likely that an administration with such intimate links to the major oil, gas and coal companies are going to implement any progressive environmental policies.

Trump says that climate change is just a “very, very expensive tax” that “will cost our companies”.  He pledged to slash funding to clean energy research. Furthermore, Trump wants to take the US out of the Paris Climate accord.

One third of Republican members of Congress flat out deny that climate change is real. They are amongst the most crude climate change deniers left in the world. In total, these climate-deniers have received $73,294,380.00 in contributions from oil, gas and coal companies over the course of their careers. Yet it is not just the energy companies who oppose taking action against climate change as it threatens their core business quite directly.

Capitalism itself treats the environment as an externality, something to be exploited in order to maximise profit. If it is cheaper to mass produce goods and transport them from one side of the world to the other, with all the packaging and fuel that necessitates, rather than produce them locally, then that will be how it is produced. The negative impact to the environment is not taken into consideration. Making real concrete changes to tackle the acceleration of climate destruction puts the whole system of how production is organised into question.

Paris Climate agreement

This is reflected in the Paris Climate agreement which is extremely lacklustre. One hundred and ninety six countries have agreed to a very vague promise of “net-zero” emissions by “the second-half of the century” but this “net-zero” is achieved in an accounting fix of carbon trading between nations rather than actually cutting carbon emissions! Since becoming president, Trump has backtracked from his promise to take the US out of the agreement. What this reflects actually is an attempt by the Republican Party to not completely alienate themselves as blatant liars, as even the oil and motor industries accept that climate change exists. The politics of Trump means protecting corporations and American capitalism by any means.

It’s not just the Republicans who are funded by oil money. So too are the Democrats; it was the Obama administration which oversaw the largest increase in oil extraction in a generation and whose state department pushed fracking globally. The struggle at Standing Rock happened under Obama. He effectively kicked the issue to touch under pressure by the huge mobilisations against the pipeline at Standing Rock. Dakota Access Pipeline will most likely appeal the decision under a Trump administration who has expressed support for the construction.

Deteriorating crisis

This discussion is very timely as this month NASA has reported that the rift that has wending its way across Antarctica’s massive Larsen C ice shelf has grown by more than ten miles. That means that a block of ice bigger than New York’s Long Island will break away very soon bringing more ice into the ocean and rising sea levels. To really fight against climate change we must fight its root cause and that is activity leading to major carbon emissions.

Both the Republicans and the Democrats as well as ALL capitalist governments across the world are implicated in this crisis in their inaction. The biggest polluters, the energy, agriculture and transport industries must be nationalised and run in the interest of the 99% and our planet. Global coordination to harness renewable energy – which cannot be done under capitalist competition – is necessary. Only a socialist world can offer a plan of action against climate change. It is not only preferable to capitalism’s misery but necessary for the future of humanity.