I’ve taken inspiration from climate change. As a writer who loves speculative fiction, everything from Star Trek’s optimism to Margaret Atwood’s dark literary visions, I see global warming as fertile ground for storytelling. You might even say I’m taking advantage of the worst crisis to hit planet Earth in three million years.
That only counts in fiction.
When it comes to real life, it’s hard to be optimistic about the fight to fix the crisis, especially after the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. He is a denialist of the first order, calling climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. The claim is ludicrous, resembling a post-truth, fake news story.
Virtually all his major picks for high-level posts in his administration reflect a similar view. Scott Pruitt, tapped to head the EPA, uses the three percent of scientists who question climate science as a reason to ignore the 97 percent who know it’s human-caused. Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State designate, while acknowledging increasing CO2 in the atmosphere, says its impact is “very hard for anyone to predict,” despite the solid record of predictions going back decades. Of all Trump’s selections, Rick Perry is the worst. “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects,” he said. That’s simply a lie.
As president, Trump will have a powerful voice. Thankfully, because of America’s diffused political structure, he’s not the only voice.
As president, Trump will have a powerful voice. Thankfully, because of America’s diffused political structure, he’s not the only voice. When you look at what states and localities are doing, I come away with hope that all is not lost.
I loved California Gov. Jerry Brown’s F-U to Trump when he promised “California would launch its own damned satellite” if US satellites stopped collecting climate data. Given the state’s technological prowess, it’s not an idle promise. At a more practical level, California plans to cut greenhouse gases to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. It also has a cap and trade emissions market.
I’m particularly proud of my home state of Washington’s attempts to tackle climate change. In the last election, voters weighed the first-ever statewide carbon tax, which economists and even Rex Tillerson’s ExxonMobil say is the most effective way to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. The measure lost, but that’s normal for a radical approach to solving a problem. Gov. Jay Inslee won’t let the idea go. He has proposed a carbon tax to fix a desperate education funding issue.
These ideas and many more may or may not be implemented, but they signal that states and local governments will resist Trump’s psychopathic head-in-the-sand-ism and perhaps overcome it. While people should not ignore his minions’ worship of fossil fuels, they are not the only ones who matter.
Do you think climate policy will advance in 2017?