Donald Trump and the election are subjects I’ve intentionally avoided discussing in terms of this blog or ecomodernism. I’ve written about him elsewhere but up until now, I’ve felt that one of the beautiful things about ecomodernism is its potential to be a political bridge – at least in terms of dealing with environmental issues and climate change. I’ve defended the “climate deniers” and tried to put forth the idea that the left pushed them into denialism by attaching a socialist agenda to climate change action. I stand by that but I think I may have been very wrong that the right will ever accept the science on climate change if we could just disentangle the environmental left’s ideology from the solutions.
I thought maybe we could find common ground with clean air. I thought that we could meet them halfway with technology and an acceptance of moderate capitalism – and maybe we still can do that – but my naïve dreams that the right will accept climate science or care about clean air is dead. (I thought everyone could get on board with clean air but that was stupid – if it looks clean, it is clean – fuck New Dheli, right?) The reality:
There is not going to be a centrist solution to climate change. There is no moderate movement.
It feels hopeless today but maybe it’s not. Trump will probably be okay with clean energy if there’s money to be made. He’ll back nuclear if there’s money to be made. He’ll back any technology if there’s money to be made. His complete lack of character and soullessness might even be useful in certain ways. That’s grasping though. The truth is that climate change action under him is toast – he does not give a shit. And he won’t give a shit unless it affects him personally – which it never will. It won’t even affect his kids (not that I think that’s a concern to him either) because the wealthy will be the last to notice.
One possible silver lining is that he’ll protect American agriculture but that won’t be because he cares about farmers or farmland (although he will want their votes again in 4 years). He’ll support genetic engineering for the sake of biotech companies and the corporations that make snacks so that’s nice I guess – but he won’t spend one second thinking about climate adaptation for crops or humanitarian applications for biotechnology. Humanitarian anything will be a joke under this guy but maybe he won’t stand in the way.
You would think that some sort of economic development for the global poor might possible under a Trump presidency but I doubt it. I’m sure he’s delusional enough to think that he’s going to be responsible for a booming American economy – some of his supporters certainly buy that idea – but he’s never given any indication that he’s concerned with the plight of the rest of the planet. He would probably cock his head to the side like a confused dog if you mentioned energy poverty in the developing world. The upside is that he won’t care enough to stand in the way of poor countries and electricity. The downside is that he also won’t care how dirty it is.
So, what can we do? Ecomodernism is optimistic (which I’m not right now) but it’s also realistic – which we have to be. We’re stuck with Trump [insert your favorite orange insult, I’m tapped out] and a country full of people who think climate change is a joke. The only thing left to do is push forward with developing technology that might help get us out of this mess because in that war of “Capitalism vs. the Climate”, the climate has lost. The faster the people who care about climate change accept that truth, the more effectively we’ll be able to fight the environmental damage that’s coming in the next 4 years. Because, a Donald Trump presidency? Well, that changes everything.