PhD candidate at the University of Manchester, holds degrees from the University of Adelaide, Australia, and the University of Salford and previously worked in the National Health Service
Section 3: Policy
- Trump-Clinton was expected to be close: the economy said so
- Picking up the pieces: the 2016 US Presidential Election and immigration
- A bilingual campaign: Clinton’s Latino political communication
- How the wall with Mexico symbolizes the Utopia of Trump’s supporters
- After the election: Trump’s wall
- Trump’s Global War on Terror
- Will Trump continue Obama’s legacy of drone strikes?
- Loose cannons: or the silent debate on drones
- Guns return to American elections
- Dark days ahead for our climate
Trump has previously (in 2012) suggested “was created by and for the Chinese”. His original ‘first 100’ days plan for climate and energy got pulled from his website, archived at ‘wayback machine’. It makes for depressing reading, How much of that will happen remains to be seen.
Awareness of the threat of climate change goes back decades, well before its arrival on public policy agendas in 1988. While John F. Kennedy was aware of environmental problems generally (he’d read ), it was his successor Lyndon Johnson who made the written for him by pioneering climate scientist . Following a from Democratic senator Daniel Moynihan in September 1969, Nixon in an age when conservatism meant conserving things, but climate change was still very niche. Ronald Reagan’s hostility to is infamous, with attempts to , but with the credibility of atmospheric scientists high thanks to their , moves towards a climate agreement could not be completely resisted.
1988 and beyond
A combination of growing scientific alarm about the growth of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and a long hot summer in 1988 made climate change an election issue. On the campaign trail, then-Vice President :
“Those who think we’re powerless to do anything about the “greenhouse effect” are forgetting about the “White House effect”… I will convene a global conference on the environment at the White House… We will talk about global warming… And we will act”
He didn’t act, of course, successfully insisting targets and timetables for emissions reductions be removed from the proposed climate treaty to be agreed at the Rio Earth Summit, before he would agree to attend.
It was 2000 before presidential candidates debated the issue.:
“I think it’s an issue that we need to take very seriously. But I don’t think we know the solution to global warming yet. And I don’t think we’ve got all the facts before we make decisions”.
The, with climate rating a mention in all three presidential debates”. Obama framed climate change as an energy independence issue, arguing that: “we’ve got to walk the walk and not just talk the talk when it comes to energy independence”. Despite a petition with 160,000 signatures, the debate moderators for the 2012 debate did not put the issue on the agenda, with the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, accused of .
Why the silence?
There are two reasons. One is simply down to the politicisation around the issue. As shown above, as recently as 2008 Republicans admitted climate change was happening. In 2012 only one contender, Jon Huntsman, was willing to do so, he soon dropped out, with his views dramatically unpopular . What happened? In two words: . The emergence of the hyper-conservative Tea Party Republican faction was the culmination of a longer-term trend of “”.
The second reason is more gloomy, because it is more intractable. Those who have denied climate change for so very long will find it very costly – both politically and psychologically – to reverse their position and admit that they have been wrong. Climate change denial has become .
In the day since Trump won, there has been a flurry of commentary. Joe Romm asks’’
“The shocking election of Donald Trump on Tuesday night is a turning point in the history of climate action, and therefore the history of homo sapiens. That’s because whatever warming, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and Dust-Bowlification we commit to ison a timescale of a thousand years.”
Meanwhile, the carbon dioxide accumulates, and the impacts pile up.