Trump administration on climate change: this is a thing now.
This now appears in the online journal The Week -- its headline is amusing, though the content is also in the WaPo:
Previous apologists for the status quo non-response to climate change have attempted to paint smiley-faces on the ideologies of "capitalism first, the planet second" which have guided their actions. Trump now grants us the pure version, with no smiley-face at all. For the Trump people, life does not matter, nobody's life, not even the lives of those in the Trump administration themselves. All that's really important are immediate profits for the fossil fuel industry and the other industries who make those key campaign finance donations. Right?
Of course there was a limit to the possibilities of climate change denial as a historic ideology. Nobody was going to buy into the notion that since climate change mitigation was bad for profits, climate change must therefore not exist, yet this piece of illogic was in fact the Trump stance (if I recall correctly) during his 2016 Presidential campaign. As for disputing climate change science, something the deniers used to do, there were three main problems:
1) The relationship between higher atmospheric carbon dioxide and higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels was established in 1896 by Svante Arrhenius. It's an inverse logarithm -- as CO2 multiplies, average temperature marches forward numerically. Arrhenius, amusingly enough, thought this was a good thing -- after all, he lived in an era of relatively low atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and an increase might not have been so catastrophic for him and his. For us, however, reality looks different, except for the deniers in our midst, who most clearly refused to look.
2) As for the actual numbers of what climate change means now, an increase or decrease of 45% in atmospheric CO2 corresponds to an increase or decrease in average temperatures in, well, more degrees than we want to admit at this time. The key reference in establishing the numbers is a 1999 research paper by a team, "Petit et al. 1999," a study of Antarctic ice cores which made it into Nature magazine. I gather the Trump forces no longer want to talk science, though.
3) The deniers had, and have, no convincing alternate model for how an increase in atmospheric CO2 of (now) 45% would result in no change in climate. Instead they bickered about side points, or misrepresented the mathematics of climate change as has been corroborated for 120 years now. At some point, apparently, this sort of denier petulance went away.
OK so now the deniers have come to grips with climate change and its existential threat to planetary biospheres and human civilization. Congratulations! Their response, though, has been "let the disasters happen." A line from the WaPo article caught my eye:
Conservatives who condemned President Barack Obama’s climate initiatives as regulatory overreach have defended the Trump administration’s approach, calling it a more reasonable course. Obama’s climate policies were costly to industry and yet “mostly symbolic,” because they would have made barely a dent in global carbon dioxide emissions, said Heritage Foundation research fellow Nick Loris, adding: “Frivolous is a good way to describe it.”
The Trump administration's reasoning is no doubt less "frivolous," but in the way in which violent murder-suicide is less frivolous than pursuing half-baked hospice care in a case where the patient might survive with an extensive operation. With Trump on climate change we are, in short, a long, long way from the ideology of "good old American know-how," the ideology which motivated victory in World War II, moon flights, and detente with Russia. Perhaps it is this fact that should be thrown in the faces of the defenders of this sort of policy line.