Trump, Sanders Voters and Climate Change

If you need even one reason to vote for Clinton, climate change ought to suffice

trumpwarmingI don’t pretend to understand the allure of Donald Trump.  I am an unabashed  supporter of Hillary Clinton.  I appreciate that many people I know and respect are Bernie Sanders supporters.  I am hoping that, once Clinton officially becomes the  Democratic candidate for President, Sanders supporters will work hard to elect Clinton as President, even if their motive for doing so is to defeat Donald Trump.  Staying home on election day or voting for Trump to stir things up a little bit is a position that I can’t even begin to fathom. And yet an article in today’s New York Times includes interviews with a few Sanders supporters who are contemplating voting for Trump.  Others have  indicated that they’ll simply sit the election out.  Many commentators have written about why this is a terrible idea, invoking the 2000 election and the Ralph Nader campaign that threw the election to George W. Bush.  I agree with those arguments and want to add just one more: Donald Trump would be a disaster on climate change and therefore a disaster for the planet.

If you haven’t been paying attention (and I understand the impulse to tune out the election noise five months before we vote), Trump gave a speech yesterday in North Dakota on his energy policy.  Among the most alarming statements he made are that he would “cancel the Paris Agreement,” that he would “stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N.-sponsored global warming programs,” and that he would “rescind all job-destroying Obama executive actions including the Climate Action Plan.”  It’s important to note, by the way, that the Climate Action Plan is not the Clean Power Plan. It is, instead,  the President’s broader climate agenda that includes not only the  CPP but also fuel economy regulations, among other programs to reduce greenhouse gases. It is the blueprint for how we will cut our  overall domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Trump’s position on all of these programs is hardly surprising coming from a candidate who has called climate change “a hoax”  (here’s a collection of his most outrageous tweets on climate change).  But they’re alarming nevertheless. Moreover, unlike in some other policy areas  where Trump seems to have equivocated or backed down on his most extreme primary rhetoric, he is doubling down on his anti-climate positions.  Yesterday’s speech proved that.

In contrast, Hillary Clinton as President would continue the leadership President Obama has shown — especially post-2012 — with the issuance of the Clean Power Plan, the issuance of methane regulations for new and modified sources and promises to regulate existing wells, strong fuel economy standards and so forth.  These policies are crucial to meeting the commitments the United States made last December to the global community as part of the Paris Agreement.  At a time when we are breaking temperature records on a monthly basis, the Arctic is melting, the west Antarctic ice sheet is at risk of destabilization, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have breached 400 parts per million, India just experienced temperatures of 123.8 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time ever, and droughts plague many regions of the world, Trump’s position is dangerous, wrong-headed and astounding.

But there’s more.  Not only is it terrible to back away from policies that will cut U.S. emissions:  Our unwillingness to cut our emissions may give cover to other large emitters, especially China, to do the same.  But it’s even more  troubling  for the U.S. to signal to the world that it will not engage with the international community to address the most challenging and critical environmental problem we have ever faced.  President Obama has demonstrated that U.S. engagement is not just important to global progress in addressing climate change.  It is key.  Indeed when the U.S. has led  on climate change internationally, we have seen real results, first with the Kyoto Protocol (when  Bill Clinton was President) and now with the Paris Agreement.   The Paris Agreement simply wouldn’t have happened without the strong leadership of the President and his staff. When the U.S. takes a back seat, the international process grinds to a halt.   And Paris is only a beginning step toward controlling spiraling emissions — the promise of Paris is not that it does enough to keep global temperatures at a safe level. Instead the agreement’s promise is that it gets us started on the right path and that we will ratchet up our commitments through the Agreement’s provisions that require the global community to come together every five years and increase emissions targets.  With Trump as President, it isn’t just that the U.S. will fail to live up to its Paris commitments.  And it isn’t just that our failure to live up to our own commitments could encourage other countries to back away from theirs.  It’s that we pretty much guarantee that the promise of Paris disappears.

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Reader Comments

25 Replies to “Trump, Sanders Voters and Climate Change”

  1. Dan, Bernie Sanders’ appointment of Bill McKibben to the DNC platform committee is awesome and greatly raises the visibility of the fight to save our civilization from Global Warming today.

    In addition, the DNC must magnify this effort by forming a special climate change committee at the convention with members like McKibben, James Hansen, Al Gore and Dan Farber to raise the fight to the highest level immediately, including immediate establishment of a climate change cabinet post during what is left of the Obama administration.

    Now that we have rocketed exponentially past 400 ppm, far exceeding McKibben’s grave 350 or Bust warning, we are running out of time faster than we know. We keep saying volumes on the subject but that isn’t working, we must focus on implementing immediate actions.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I agree that having an environmental advocate with McKibben’s aggressive views should be helpful in developing a platform that gives appropriate prominence to climate change. A couple of thoughts on your suggestion: it’s difficult for me to see, realistically, how the executive branch could be significantly more effective on GHG regulation than it has been recently, without new legislation. The best way to accomplish more will be to elect a Congress that is capable of understanding the issue and that has the will to act on it. And for better or worse, there is no single federal agency that is primarily responsible for addressing climate change, so it’s hard to see a structural change within the executive branch having any impact. Carol Browner did serve as director of a short-lived White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy within the White House (2009-2011), but that post had – and any similar one would have – no independent rulemaking authority. The current administration has been as successful if not more so in developing and implementing GHG reduction initiatives since abolishing that office (largely but not exclusively through EPA rulemaking under the Clean Air Act). Finally, I want to clarify that my colleague Ann Carlson wrote this post – not Dan Farber.

    2. thanks for the comments. I agree with what Sean said. Also, hopefully some women could help out too! And maybe some people of color.

      1. Ann, is there a trick to being able to include links in one’s comments? I see other commenters include links, but when I have tried to do the same I get the message, “Your comment is awaiting moderation,” and my comment never shows up. The links I have tried to include are rather tame as well: two articles from Scientific American discussing climate change.

        1. BBQ Planet: If you include more than one or two links in a comment on this site, it will go into a moderation queue.

          This feature doesn’t distinguish between tame and offensive comments unless it it finds a comment to have spam attributes, in which case it goes into even another queue that we really don’t check at all.

          We approve comments that are not abusive or offensive or off-topic, but we typically don’t check the moderation queue more than once a day, and sometimes less, and I apologize for that.

          As to your observation that your comment never showed up: If you re-posted the comment without the links before moderation, It’s possible that the moderators deleted your comments off the moderation queue to avoid multiple almost-identical comments, or thinking that the comments were identical. Otherwise it would still be in the moderation queue, and there’s nothing in there now.

          I hope this helps, and I’m sorry for the inconvenience. Without the filter, though, our site would be very messy and high-maintenance.

          1. Okay, thanks for the explanation. My comment included two links so that was probably the issue. And after 24 hours, I resubmitted the comment without links, so that might be why the mods never let the original through. One thing to note though, I submitted a inquiry about this issue using the form on the following page and never got a response:


          2. Thanks for letting me know about your inquiry on the website form. As far as I can tell, we don’t seem to have received it, so I will have to check on what might not be working with the web form.

      2. Ann, I apologize for addressing my comment to your post to Dan in response to your most excellent post.

        I still mean what I said though and hope you will accept my recommendations because the time is way past due to take action, we have more than enough rhetoric already..

        Relative to women as you noted, I wrote a comment on the Berkeley Blog addressing that subject:

        BB Post “Can anthropology save the world?” by Nancy Scheper-Hughes May 24, 2016

        Comment by Anthony St. John ’63 May 25, 2016 at 3:14 pm

        “P.S. Prof. Scheper-Hughes, it just occurred to me that your question “Can anthropology save the world?” might be refocused to read:

        Can women leaders save the world?

        The answer must consider the fact of life that far too many male leaders have failed throughout history to save previous civilizations because actions by males are most frequently controlled by their amygdala. That is a root cause of all the problems you have referred to in this post, especially including global warming, violence and inequalities that are destroying our civilization today, because of far too many male leaders who take actions dominated by hate, greed, and the power of money. The presidential primaries today illustrate this fact of life loud and clear.

        It is a neuroscientific fact of life that the female brain has a proportionally larger prefrontal cortex, which produces superior empathy, while the male brain is dominated by a proportionally larger amygdala that has produced so many disasters throughout the history of the human race.

        Thus, during the 2016 elections, we must demand that all candidates dedicate themselves to correcting our failure to ratify the ERA and to immediately produce equal opportunities for all women so they can save the world.”

        Ann, I hope this comment makes up for my error.

          1. Ann, my amygdala made me do it, have a great weekend anyway:)

            I hope and pray this most outrageous 2016 election year can be turned into a Saving The Human Race year.

            My first vote was for Ike which was an easy vote because I was in the USAF earning my GI Bill so I could afford to go to Berkeley, and I have never experienced such an outrageous election since then.

            It’s time for We The People to take back our Democracy and the Democratic Party had better figure out how to do it this year.

  2. Dear Anne,
    The emotional objections to Trump’s climate policies stem from scientific uncertainty over the effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide on global climate. Until that issue is better understood there will continue to be controversy. In the meantime it would behoove all of us to step back from extreme rhetoric and try a new approach. That is why we are encouraged by Trump’s plan to implement new policies which would be more effective and efficient in managing this contentious issue.

    Have a good day, don’t worry, smile and be thankful.

    1. The uncertainty in the scientific world is slight, whereas that in the political world is exaggerated by the fossil fuel industry. For the second time in his political campaign, Trump read from a teleprompter, dutifully toeing the line of Republican fossil fuel industry donors. This came soon after Trump dumped his long-standing promise to self-fund and be free of the big money interests, those that he had accused his previous opponents of having been puppets of.

      As much as the hoodwinked conservative voter is oblivious to it, scientists have a great deal of understanding on this issue.

    2. BQRQ, Robert Reich says it best in his post: “Advice for Divided Democrats.”

      Prof. Reich is the best academic spokesperson today, for dealing with the political, social and economic disasters we are failing to solve today.

      We need many more intellectuals like Reich to unite and fight back to save our Democracy and civilization, but tragically, that is an impossible dream.

  3. Anthony said;
    “…..We keep saying volumes on the subject but that isn’t working, we must focus on implementing immediate actions…..”

    Dear Anthony,
    Talk is cheap, Hillary needs money now. That is your only hope. If she does not get more donations soon then Hillary plummets and Trump wins. The big donors are tapped out, the little guys need to step up. Send money before its too late. Without money, nothing else matters and all is lost. She needs you now more than ever. Please don’t delay.

    1. BQRQ, right now I’m for Bernie because he is taking the most immediate positive action with his appointment of Bill McKibben to the DNC platform committee.

      We must take climate change actions today!

      1. Anthony said;
        “……We must take climate change actions today!….”

        Dear Anthony,
        Soon Bernie will be gone and the only climate change action left to take will be Hillary. Only Hillary can stop Trump. Lip service is worthless, climate change action requires money. No one can sincerely oppose Trump and yet withhold money from Hillary. Give soon, if only just $1.

        Now is the time to decide; do we want her or not? I have made my decision, now you decide.

  4. Former Top Obama Energy Official Calls EPA’s Clean Power Plan “all pain, no gain” :

    “…….Charles McConnell, who served two years as assistant energy secretary under President Obama, told a House subcommittee that the total reduction in U.S. emissions by 2025 foreseen under the CPP will be offset by just three weeks of emissions in China.
    “To get some perspective on how irrelevant EPA’s plan is, after exacting tremendous pain on the U.S. economy and ratepayers, a full year’s worth of annual reductions in 2025 would be offset by Chinese emission in just three weeks,” Mr. McConnell said at a Thursday hearing of the House Science Committee’s environment subcommittee.
    He said the CPP, which has been challenged in court by 27 states, will result in “double-digit electricity price increases in over half of our states,” as well as hidden costs in transmission upgrades and back-up generation……..”

    1. I love the way the cited article touts his short stint in the federal government (as the chief of development of fossil fuel energy) and ignores his 3 decades of work in extractive industries prior to that. If anything, this just illustrates that despite the protestations of the right wing, the president has actually nominated ideologically diverse people to important posts.

      1. The Washington Times has a long reputation as a very conservative newspaper, and a few years back partnered with One America News (the recently created right-wing TV station) to get it off the ground.

  5. Respectfully, I disagree because I think the end result of Trump and Clinton’s plans is the same: a busted carbon budget. In a major accident, is there a practical difference between an impact occurring at 100 mph instead of 400? Clinton’s plans are to regulate fossil fuels (not ban) and keep leasing federal fossil fuels (not leave where God put it). This translates as PRO GAS and MORE GAS. Her talk of solar and wind is always discussed as mollification gravy, to build as it becomes cute and convenient, as though the science underlying the carbon budget has room for Hillary’s PRO GAS and MORE GAS agenda. No, climate change is not a reason to vote for Hillary. I admit that if Donald wins, the nation’s climate efforts will fall from an aircraft at 10,000 ft with no parachute. Regrettably, if Hillary wins the nations climate plans will take the same fall from only 3,000 ft. In the end, what’s the difference? No, Hillary does not win my vote out of fear of the Donald, nor for her ultra stupid PRO GAS and MORE GAS non-science fantasy. When she promises to stop building pipelines and signing oil/gas leases, and instead rebuild the nation’s grid and put up solar panels like this nation once cranked out ships, planes, and tanks…. THEN we’ll have a climate candidate who deserves our vote.

    1. Steve El said;
      “…..When she [Hillary] promises to stop building pipelines and signing oil/gas leases, and instead rebuild the nation’s grid and put up solar panels like this nation once cranked out ships, planes, and tanks…. THEN we’ll have a climate candidate who deserves our vote…..”

      Dear Steve,
      Mr. Trump promises to stop building wasteful, fraudulent solar and wind energy boondoggles, and instead rebuild the nation’s pipelines and put up clean natural gas power plants like this nation once cranked out ships, planes, and tanks…. NOW we have a climate candidate who truly deserves our vote (a vote for Bernie = a vote for Trump).

      1. Two things. First, all we have known is fear-based voting and the 1% – GOP or DEM – like it that way. Second, fear-based voting kept us from dealing with this issue seriously at 350ppm. To me, our climate and our democracy sink or swim together, and the only way to save them is to vote what we REALLY WANT, instead of based on what we fear. Notice that Hillary could have – but did not – back Instant Runoff Voting throughout her career, especially after Gore-Bush-Nader. No, the 1% got us here, and the carbon budget tells us that (yet more) 1% leadership isn’t going to save us. So I don’t blame the GOP or the Koch brothers. I blame voters who vote for evil, even a lesser evil, because by so doing they have abrogated their only real power: To demand voting reform so the vote reflects the people, rather than the money. Climate and democracy are two sides of the same coin. Solve one, solve both. You don’t do that by falsely telling yourself a non-Hillary vote is a vote for Trump.

  6. “………Hillary Clinton repeatedly used unsecured phones to contact four of her lesbian lovers — sparking a bombshell scandal that could doom her bid for the White House. “It is my understanding that Hillary was careless — very careless,” spilled one top Beltway insider. What she wants to do in her own bedroom is her own business. But she didn’t take the necessary steps to keep her romps with other women secret, and now it’s going to explode in front of every American voter!……..”

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About Ann

Ann Carlson is currently on leave from UCLA School of Law. She is the Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law and was the founding Faculty Director of the Emmett I…

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About Ann

Ann Carlson is currently on leave from UCLA School of Law. She is the Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law and was the founding Faculty Director of the Emmett I…

READ more