For those of us who take the threat of climate change seriously, the future doesn't look bright. Thomas Homer-Dixon writes:
Now we also have to face the reality that Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States is calamitous for the fight against climate change. Because Mr. Trump and his key cabinet nominees are deeply committed to promoting carbon-based energy industries, they’re not inclined to believe that climate change is a pressing danger or even, in the case of some of nominees, real. The president-elect himself is ignorant of basic science and has an almost postmodernist contempt for facts or anything resembling the truth. He operates within and through a discourse of authority and force, not a discourse of reason.For Mr. Trump, evidence either doesn’t matter or it can be created at will, which means he’s largely unreachable through evidence-based argument. His magical reality is unfalsifiable. Ice could completely disappear from the Arctic, forests in the U.S. West could erupt in fire, and a Category 5 hurricane could smash his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida to toothpicks, and it wouldn’t make any difference to his views on climate change. (While campaigning in California, Mr. Trump denied the state is suffering from a severe drought.)
And the rising populist tide in Europe further complicates things:
Meanwhile, surging populist movements are weakening the capacity and resolve of the European Union, the world’s other main actor in the climate-change fight. Yes, there are some positive developments: California and some other U.S. states are pressing ahead with carbon reductions, cities around the world are adopting meaningful climate plans, and China is rolling out renewable energy at a breakneck pace (although its coal consumption has recently bounced upward). Overall, though, the scene is vastly bleaker than when the Paris Accord was announced – just a year ago.
Despite these setbacks, Homer-Dixon warns this is no time to throw in the towel:
In the end, it’s a simple moral principle – the Golden Rule – that tells us not to give up the fight against climate change. The Rule says we should treat people as we’d want to be treated if our situations were reversed. If we were our children – or if we were members of generations born later this century – we’d want today’s adults to be doing everything reasonable to stop climate change dead in its tracks.In a world losing its grip on reality, it’s worth keeping such true principles in mind.
In the end, we must do things for our children. Without them, there is no future.