Of all the terrifying things to fear about the Trump presidency, the one it is most tempting to ignore for now is climate change. The election debates barely touched on the topic, and with so many other pressing imminent disasters, the end of life on earth seems both insurmountably awful and far off. But it’s here right now: 2016 was the hottest year ever and president-elect Donald Trump is filling his staff with people who want to hammer the world to pieces.
In a collection of essays published in the New Yorker’s November 21 issue, Jane Mayer lays out the situation thusly:
The influence of the Kochs and their allies is particularly clear in the areas of energy and the environment. The few remarks Trump made on these issues during the campaign reflected the fondest hopes of the oil, gas, and coal producers. He vowed to withdraw from the international climate treaty negotiated last year in Paris, remove regulations that curb carbon emissions, legalize oil drilling and mining on federal lands and in seas, approve the Keystone XL pipeline, and weaken the Environmental Protection Agency.
She specifically mentions Michael McKenna, whose clients include Koch Companies Public Sector, Michael Catanzaro, who is considered an “energy czar,” Harold Hamm, who founded shale-oil company Continental Resources, and Myron Ebell, a noted climate change skeptic who runs the Competitive Enterprise Institute, “an anti-regulatory Washington think tank that hides its sources of financial support but has been funded by fossil-fuel companies, including Exxon-Mobil and Koch Industries.”
Woo. Deep breath.
The Guardian reports that the UN is saying 2016 will be the hottest year ever, breaking records for the third year in a row. That also means that 16 of the 17 hottest years on record happened this century. The World Meteorological Organization published their findings on Monday, noting that the global temperature this year was 1.2C above pre-industrial levels, which is close to the 1.5C target mentioned in the Paris accord. Climate scientist Michael Mann, of Penn State University, says, “It is almost as if mother nature is making a statement.”
“Just as one of the planet’s two largest emitters of carbon has elected a climate change denier [Donald Trump] - who has threatened to pull out of the Paris accord - to the highest office, she reminds us that she has the final word.”
“Climate change is not like other issues that can be postponed from one year to the next,” he [Mann] said. “The US and world are already behind; speed is of the essence, because climate change and its impacts are coming sooner and with greater ferocity than anticipated.”