Opinion: Trump's election bad news for the planet

Game over for fighting climate change.

1 NEWS Columnist Dita DeBoni Source: 1 NEWS

There are plenty of detailed analyses available for why businessman Donald Trump was was swept into the White House this week.

Some say it was a cri de coeur from poor rural white folk, others say it was sexism and misogyny, others say Hillary was the wrong candidate.  

I think all of the above are partly correct, but more simply the Republicans, led by Trump, seized on a line that played well for their own supporters and depressed the vote of a huge number of Democrats.

Crooked Hillary.

Most of what was said in support of this argument seems to me to be a massive beat-up – but it worked.

Despite years of public feuding, Trump and Obama have pledged to work together to ensure a smooth transition of power. Source: 1 NEWS

And while I think Bernie Sanders would have been a much better progressive choice, in the end, the candidate who understood and was prepared to work with the reality of the world, the candidate who pledged more accessible healthcare, free college tuition for middle-class families and better race relations, lost her footing.

For New Zealand, there’s a high possibility that life will be about the same, because it’s pretty obvious that we rate pretty far down the pecking order.  

However, the planet may not be so lucky. For the past eight years we have had, at least, a US president that has led the charge against the great disaster that is man-made climate change, even encouraging our do-nothing Government to get on board with global efforts (such as the Paris accord).

But that is about to change.  Barack Obama will soon be gone and in his place someone who has previously espoused aggressively anti-environmental attitudes which could help tip the world definitively towards climate disaster.

Donald Trump’s stated views on climate change stand in stark opposition to US universities, scientists, peer-reviewed climate researchers, NASA, major environmental organisations and even the country’s largest companies, including the likes of oil giant Exxon Mobil, which has said in a statement “we believe that the risks of climate change warrant action”.

That list of pretty persuasive brainpower holds no water with Donald Trump if his actions so far are any guide.

Not only has he said climate change is a hoax originating in China, and committed to re-firing up coal mines and relaying oil pipelines, he’s tipped to make some truly scary appointments to his new cabinet.

It seems as though the new Secretary of Energy under Trump will be a man called Harold Hamm, an Oklahoma oil billionaire (he’s already advised the new president elect to “just scrap” energy industry regulations). 

He also favours a virulent climate change sceptic to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, a man called Myron Ebell, who belongs to a climate-change denying think-tank that takes money from the oil industry. 

There are also fears he intends to reverse the US Clean Power Plan, without which the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter would essentially ignore emissions reductions set in Paris and potentially grow them further. 

This, despite weekly evidence, especially in the poorer, rural areas of the country of the catastrophic devastation caused by adverse weather, in turn caused by rising temperatures.

The world may well have to find a way to move forward without US participation in the global fight to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, which will make a very difficult task that much harder.

We will have to pin our hopes on other countries seeing a clearer path to climate-risk mitigation and clean-technology innovation. 

Hopefully, one day, New Zealand will also take a leadership role in that movement.

Speaking of moving on, this is my last column for 1 NEWS NOW before I move to the medium of radio.

Thanks to everyone who read these columns, and those who commented and otherwise interacted. 

And thanks to TVNZ itself for providing a platform for commentary that seeks to enrage, engage and enlighten.