Home | About | Donate

With the Rise of Trump, Is It Game Over for the Climate Fight?


With the Rise of Trump, Is It Game Over for the Climate Fight?

Bill McKibben

One possibility is, we’ve lost. It’s a real possibility, and we should consider it carefully instead of ignoring it because it’s emotionally unpalatable.

I think the argument would go like this: The idea that humans would move quickly enough off coal and oil and gas to salvage the planet’s climate was always a long shot. When I wrote the first book on all of this back in 1989, I interviewed a political scientist who said “it’s the problem from hell,” with so many interests at odds, and so much money invested in the status quo, that it was hard to see a real path forward.


Since money and free enterprise are the catchwords for most capitalists, the fact that renewables employ an ever larger segment of the population and that so many young people are dedicated to saving the planet and willing to make the leap are signs that there is hope, and that we must never give up, never surrender.


"With the Rise of Trump, Is It Game Over for the Climate Fight?"

Of course not; the Climate will win...


In as much as it’s a game, it will never be over. In as much as it’s still a viable strategy to roll back the climatic perturbations, it already is. A never-say-die approach (about all we have left) will keep us trying, and eventually shifting the emphasis to more local survival preparations. Much about contemporary life cannot be carried forward; the sorting will likely be on an ad-hoc basis, and often severe.

“Unpalatable” barely begins to describe it.


If there is something ironic about Trump is that he has described the US with fictional dark view in terms of economics and crime. We know his view of America is a big lie. But meanwhile he never mentioned what is a real dark view of America and that is the country is on the verge of disaster as the climate crisis grows ever worse with no adequate effort to address. By calling climate change a hoax created by the Chinese Trump of course lied again. One way to look as it is even if Clinton, or Sanders, or O'Malley had been elected our chances of escaping disaster from climate change would not be good. And certainly the election of Trump has made our chances poorer. Of course Trump could not have been elected without millions of ignorant and often very religious Americans voting for him. The problem is not just Trump, it is an anti-intellectual culture that particularly thrives in rural areas which is out of reality. But, there is really no alternative but to try to overcome everything to save the world, no matter how slim our chances are for success.


Trump' Bannonite fascist slogan is "America First." Ours must be Earth First. If all legal paths for saving the environment are closed, we must take defense of our future in our own hands.


America first? With the dire predictions of climate devastation by so many reputable, climate,scientists only the most ignorant climate denier and sophomoric moron could make a statement like that.

Illegitimate, president, Trump: don't you realize without the earth there is no America, No earth first!


We lost back in 1989, when the American Petroleum Institute fired up the global warming denial industry. It's easier to be against something than for anything in a country used to getting screwed by its ruling elite, to whom profit trumps life, especially when it's in something as lucrative as oil, irreplaceable as an energy source and profit center.

Trump won because the Koch's worked out a deal when the Trump campaign ran out of money (I suppose) and the Cabinet nominees were chosen by the Heritage Institute, one of the political inventions of the Koch brothers. Trump is the Koch brothers' puppet.

That's because the Kochs have invested $100 Billion in the Canadian tar sands and they want their profit if it kills the planet down to the bacterial level. Profit trumps life. Charlie Koch said exactly that.

What's especially hard to swallow is that the Sixth Mass Extinction, already destroying habitat at a frightening rate, so that 50% of the wildlife that was here in 1980 is extinct, has had a name for 100 years or so, Our species has been driving Others of our life system extinct since we started walking erect. Make desert out of paradise and move on.

Global warming and climate change are elements of a system: the SME. The life system is allowing (some say it's overpowered) humans (the sole drivers of the SME) to extinct themselves or change enough of their population to stop the SME, or at least slow it down.

We humans are one of the large mammals who had a fighting chance if we changed fast enough to get out in front of the SME, but then Obama swept into Copenhagen, took over the choice-making process, and came out with a pathetic agreement that doomed life on this planet, maybe the entire life system if, say, methane gets concentrated enough to burst into a ball of flame engulfing the planet. Then he saw what his legacy was about to have hung on it and used the last of his last administration to apply cosmetics and PR to mask the fact that he, the last person with a chance of averting the worst of the SME, had done nothing but get the renewable energy train rolling about climate change. The White House told me that their (the retread Clinton hands who swarmed the White House as soon as the Obamas moved in) response to climate change (which itself is less than a pathetic view of the SME barreling down on us) would be renewable energy because that's what they felt like they had the political capital to pull off. They did great on that count but it was incremental politics and it sealed the fate of life on Earth because the Clinton hands thought saving humanity from the SME wasn't as important as fixing the economy. So, thanks to myopic bit of political navel gazing and hijacking the process in Copenhagen, the entire life system was screwed worse than it was in 1989. It would take an effort that dwarfs the WWII mobilization to take the SME down enough to perhaps let humans survive, sort of, in the Hell on Earth we left our posterity for perhaps a few hundred years but perhaps thousands. Large mammals will get the shitty end of that stick because Americans especially still believe they are, by God's grace I guess, exceptions to the Laws of Thermodynamics.

So there you have it. That's where our planet, our life system, our biodiversity, our species sits, with a tiny minority who knows what the SME is and what it means who have nothing like enough political power to cause that mobilization that would leave some of us alive in a Hell on Earth but alive.

That's because the ruling elite refused to convert to a parliamentary form of government to replace the winner take all mess that got us here, with money totally running, and ruining, the planet, because profit (as capital growth) trumps life.

Meanwhile, the US population labors in a mess of identity politics, with women, black people, athiests, etc. using their political capital to advocate for themselves while the planet surrenders to the SME at a rate of more than 100 species per day. This country ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and no one has forced the elites to waste a single breath on human rights. Jimmy Carter did, and that's most of why he was a one-term president. No one has, since then, because it's morning in America.

Someone said that the price of education was high, but the price of ignorance is beyond counting. Ignorance guaranteed what we will experience in the time ahead, with a petty dictator wannabe the world's most powerful person.

When will we leave our comfort zones in a status quo from Hell spawning more Hell and change lifestyles in local economies with functional community and the knowledge of the future that causes local outposts to survive what we, the people allowed Massa to do to life - in our names.


Yes, how ironic that some scientists theorize that the dinosaurs were wiped out by climate devastation and now it looks the dinosaurs are wiping us out with the coming climate devastation!


Actually, there is another alternative, but it's one that few subscribe to. (However, the numbers are growing "exponentially"--wink). We can give up the hopium and accept that most life on the planet is doomed. Then we can (collectively and individually) decide how to spend the few years we have left.


We have already lost the battle but don't give up the war. Who knows what technology may be out there. The war is against the despoilers of the planet for profit vs the rest of us. A civilization that cannot live sustainably on their home planet will not escape the folly of their decision by escaping to the stars. A divided planetary civilization will never be coordinated enough to amass the resources to get away. A species that evolves in a winner take all planetary environment must use logic over evolution and natural selection if it intends to survive the destruction emanating from it's existence. We must let logic and common sense override the genetic decisions that got us to where we are now.


How can people choosing that alternative ever face their children and grandchildren if they have any?


Do you have a citation for charles Koch saying profit trumps life? I believe it is something he would say, but I can't find the quote anywhere. He claims to believe in climate change, though he funds denial groups. So the man is not to be trusted.


It's sad to say that McPherson bats last. It's so hard to admit that the game is over. Will even the lowly nematode survive.


It sure feels like we've lost. I read Trump's new EPA head wants to rollback CAFE standards for vehicles. Raising them and ditching the SUV loophole was an important win for Obama early in his presidency, as were the renewable energy tax credits and green infrastructure incentives in the Stimulus bill. With Republicans controlling Congress, the tax credits dissappear and all incentives will likely focus on the fossil fuel industry.


It's over until the next phase begins and some of the consequences of global warming and the other kinds of environmental trashing starts to happen undeniably. When real seaside cities start needing to evacuate due to sea level rise, for example. Anyone who has read many of the climate change articles has been told of the kinds that are likely to happen.

I don't think incremental voluntariy behavioral changes can even come close to fixing this mess. It's going to take a mass mobilization, the kind of things done for floods and hurricanes and huge earthquakes but one that covers all the developed techno-industrial places on the planet.

Some places may need to be evacuated quickly and that means answering questions like where can they safely go, how can sanitation be maintained, how can they be fed -- the usual large humanitarian crisis questions writ large. We might, no matter how much we do or don't believe, become Plsnet Refugee.

Maybe I am, as I am often accused of being, a pessimistic alarmist with a brain bias favoring worst case scenarios. It may not happen fast and give is time to cope.

But since we now have a U.S. federal government headed by a team of dedicated deniers, those who pray would be well advise to beg whoever or whatever you pray to that whatever is to happen will not hit is too fast, too hard, too soon


Did you hear about this?


EPA grants frozen. EPA not permitted to issue press releases, talk to media, nothing. Huge cut for EPA budget coming.


The "game" MAY have been over several DECADES ago!


Believe me, I don't have any "good" answers to your question. I was merely pointing out that some people are compelled to seek the truth, however shattering, and then use that knowledge to inform their choices.


No. I don't usually save those things, but I do remember most of them.
Charlie was being inteviewed by someone in the progressive media who
asked if profit trumps life, and he said, "Yes. Profit trumps life." I
was shocked that he's that open with it. Here's a guy who would gladly
pay my life for his profit. Vietnam was no different.

We were in Vietnam (according the Pentagon Papers) to facilitate
business owners seizure of Vietnam's natural resources - oil, tin, and
rubber - and if we died, oh, well. Current reality in the US is that,
to hoard all the dollars he can before the next financial collapse,
Massa will take our Social Security, our disability compensations, any
tax breaks we might have, anything that means cash in Massa's hand.

I say Massa because the current version of capitalism matches how
slaveowners' valued any human life save their own and their nearest
kin. In the 1970s, while Massa backed out of integration and began the
destruction of public eduation, of which Betsy DeVos is the current
face, his victims became anyone who could not afford a lawyer.
Otherwise, you were thrown into the same group as poor black people.
Poor people God doesn't love or they would be wealthy. That's happening
again. Massa got into the national money trough again, and he's going
to take all he can, no matter who it hurts, because it's not going to
hurt him. The worst thing would be he broke even.

Charlie Koch was once asked, "How much is enough?" Without missing a
beat, Charlie said, "All of it." I think that was on Real News Network.
That's why they bought the government in 2016. They have $100 Billion
invested in Canadian tar sands, and they'll spend a couple of billion to
keep their profit in play, if it means bringing the Sixth Mass
Extinction this decade.

The Heritage Foundation calls the marching orders in Trump's government,
starting with selecting the Cabinet they wanted. There's a plan. It's
been written for some time, like PNAC, the Plan for a New American
Century, in Dubya's administration, for which they played their base for
fools via the Big Lie: Saddam was allied with Al-Qaeda and had weapons
of mass destruction, which half the people who elected Trump in '16
still believe. The Koch Brothers plan is not available to read on a
website, like PNAP was.

We're in shit for shape now, with these guys holding all three branches
of government. Obama just got us working again and the Koch
libertarians are poised to fleece us again. We must remain poor so they
can have all the money because it's theirs. They made it. They believe
that. So they want to recreate 16th Century Europe, where there were
the nobility in line for monarch and the peasants who were dirt poor.
That's what Grandpa Koch advocated for, and Daddy Koch co-founded the
John Birch Society. How could they be different than they are?

Neoliberalism is about destroying the middle class. Neoliberalism is
mild, compared to what the Kochs will demand.

I can trust the Kochs to do the most heinous things to make money or
preserve it. They've proven who they are too often to doubt it. I
don't remember who said it, but someone recently said that when a person
says he's a monster, you should believe him the first time.

Sorry about that citation.