If ever there was any doubt that Donald Trump would pursue an extreme agenda of denying the scientific reality of anthropogenic global climate change, that doubt is shattered today, with Trump’s announcement that he has chosen Rex Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil, as Secretary of State and Rick Perry, the former Governor of Texas, as Secretary of Energy.
Rex Tillerson has overseen the execution of cynical propaganda campaigns to create a factually-unfounded appearance of scientific disagreement about the reality of global increase in temperature, rise in sea level, and ocean acidification. Rick Perry has declared, in a shamelessly direct contradiction of all available facts, that “we have been experiencing a cooling trend, that the complexities of the global atmosphere have often eluded the most sophisticated scientists”.
Do I really need to take the time to describe the reality of climate change that all reasonable, educated people understand and accept? Given that 49% of voters were able to make the mind-numbingly dense choice to support Donald Trump, yes, I suppose that I do.
The facts: Globally, 2016 is the hottest year recorded since human beings began taking temperature recordings generations and generations ago. There is no cooling trend. There just isn’t. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which consists of huge numbers of climatologists and other scientists with subject area expertise related to climate, not government bureaucrats, has repeatedly convened to study the state of scientific knowledge about global warming and other aspects of climate change. Every time the IPCC has met, it has concluded that the basis for the anthropogenic model of climate change is becoming more certain, not less certain. The IPCC does not describe the condition of scientific befuddlement claimed by Rick Perry, but instead concludes, in its latest report, that:
“Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems. Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen.”
The facts of anthropogenic climate change are so extremely clear that it can be fairly said that there are only three kinds of people who still reject the idea that climate change is real, is serious, and is being caused by human behavior:
1. The dim witted
2. The ignorant
3. The purposefully dishonest
I’m not going to try to determine which of these categories Rex Tillerson, Rick Perry, and Donald Trump fit into. Operationally, it doesn’t matter. Membership in any one of these three categories makes these men unfit for public office.
Yet, under Donald Trump, Americans are living in an age of idiocy, an age of ignorance, an age of dishonesty. These people are not just going into public office, but the highest public offices in the land. They’ll be joined by Scott Pruitt, a confirmed anti-climate zealot and opponent of every sensible plan to prevent unscrupulous corporations from spewing filth out into our air and water.
What matters is this: What are we going to do about it?
Given the nomination of Rex Tillerson to become the next Secretary of State, one might be tempted to issue the call to boycott Exxon. Given the scale of the problem we’re facing, however, such a boycott doesn’t fit the bill. What would we have people do – stop buying fossil fuels from Exxon and Mobil gas stations, only to get them from other gas stations representing other corporations that also spread anti-scientific propaganda to try to prevent reasonable action on climate change?
No, if we’re serious about confronting the corporate corruption that has fueled Donald Trump’s rise to power, we need to look at our own role in the problem. The big oil companies have become big because we’re buying what they’re selling – and we’re burning it, too.
If you want to make a real difference to undercut the dirty, pollution profiteering of Donald Trump’s crew of Cold Earth denialists, then you’ll need to start making some sacrifices to back up what you say you believe in. Leave the car in the parking garage. Leave the truck in the driveway. Whenever you can, instead of turning the key in the ignition, walk. Ride a bicycle. Take a train or another form of mass transit if that’s what you’ve got to do to get where you need to go. The point is, you need to stop burning the outdated dirty fossil fuels that Trump’s cabinet wants you to burn.
If you can significantly cut your burning of fossil fuels, you’ll reduce the profits of ExxonMobil and all the other dirty energy companies that are supporting Donald Trump’s presidency. You’ll also reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released into the Earth’s atmosphere, taking responsibility where the Trump Administration refuses to do so.
Yes, you’ll be a little bit more footsore at first, but with every creak in your knees, you’ll know that you’re literally taking another step to shorten the Reign of Error unleashed upon the world by Donald Trump and his Swamp Cabinet.