Heads or Tails: President Trump and climate change

  • Written by  Marco Magrini
  • Published in Climate
‘It is doubtful that anybody could derail the world's logical transition to clean energy sources’ ‘It is doubtful that anybody could derail the world's logical transition to clean energy sources’ mikeledray
21 Dec
2016
Geographical’s regular look at the world of climate change. This month, Marco Magrini looks at the US under Donald Trump

Can a single person derail the world’s unanimous resolution to try saving the planet, better known as the Paris Agreement? As improbable as it may seem, if that person occupies a desk in the Oval Office, the answer is affirmative. ‘The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.’ So tweeted Donald Trump, the man about to take the seat behind that desk.

If the United States, a long-time leader in fossil fuel emissions, decide to walk out of the international agreement signed in 2015, they may indeed encourage a few other countries to do the same, triggering a backlash with ominous long-term consequences. However, the post-electoral Trump said recently to the New York Times: ‘I have an open mind to it. We’re going to look very carefully’, something very far from what the pre-electoral Trump declared. Since it looks like Hillary Clinton won’t be prosecuted, a Mexican wall won’t be erected, and Muslims won’t be banned from American soil, maybe coal-fired plants won’t be allowed to spew as much carbon dioxide as they want either. But you never know. The president-elect has already announced that Myron Ebell, a renowned climate change contrarian, will lead his transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency. After a deluge of words, we can’t help but wait for facts.

Whatever the upcoming Oval Office tenant may think, we just cannot afford to play heads or tails with Earth’s thermometer

Still, it is doubtful that anybody could derail the world’s logical transition to clean energy sources. Market forces uphold more long-term investments in renewables than in fossil fuels. Technological innovation keeps on pushing down prices at a steady pace, while billions of dollars are being spent on chasing the next breakthrough. China, which didn’t invent climate change or thinks it is a hoax, is already the number one producer and installer of solar panels and wind turbines in the world. An America sticking to its vast coal and shale oil reserves would be ‘non-competitive’ on this front, too.

Finally, it is never a good idea to turn your back on science. Last year was the hottest on record and our budding 2017 could become even hotter, another step in an alarming string of records. Whatever the upcoming Oval Office tenant may think, we just cannot afford to play heads or tails with Earth’s thermometer.

This was published in the January 2017 edition of Geographical magazine.

Share this story...

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

Related items

Leave a comment

ONLY registered members can leave comments and each comment is held pending authorisation before publishing. Please login or register to voice your opinion.

EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Get the best stories from Geographical delivered straight to your inbox each week.

Subscribe Today

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth UniversityUniversity of GreenwichThe University of Winchester

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • REDD+ or Dead?
    The UN-backed REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme, under which developing nations would be paid not to cut dow...
    The true cost of meat
    As one of the world’s biggest methane emitters, the meat industry has a lot more to concern itself with than merely dietary issues ...
    Long live the King
    It is barely half a century since the Born Free story caused the world to re-evaluate humanity’s relationship with lions. A few brief decades later,...
    London: a walk in the park
    In the 2016 London Mayoral election, the city’s natural environment was high on the agenda. Geographical asks: does the capital has a green future, ...
    The Money Trail
    Remittance payments are a fundamental, yet often overlooked, part of the global economy. But the impact on nations receiving the money isn’t just a ...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - follow Geographical

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Geophoto

This winter has seen frequent storms and flooding hitting many…

Wildlife

The bison, Poland’s symbol of nature conservation, already faces controversial…

Wildlife

Wolves have arrived at a wildlife park in Devon as…

Climate

An unassuming beach in Denmark is absorbing record-breaking levels of…

Energy

The environmental cost of military activities is significant. Could new…

Wildlife

Latest figures suggest that there are more than twice as…

Tectonics

How does the proposed allocation of ‘Zealandia’ as an independent…

Wildlife

Is extinction forever? While most would assume that yes, extinction…

Geophoto

Wide-angle photography is perhaps the best way to recreate the…

Wildlife

New book aims to follow in the success of last…

Wildlife

With Queensland koala numbers in free-fall, a novel idea suggests…

Climate

Geographical’s regular look at the world of climate change. This…

Tectonics

Fears that volcano eruptions in Iceland are set to regularly…

Oceans

Now we can all experience diving to the deepest point…

Wildlife

The new President of the United States has a namesake…

Geophoto

17,000 photographs from over 50 countries have been whittled down…

Wildlife

Red squirrels are found to be afflicted with a stubborn…

Polar

The toll, as a response to melting sea ice, would…

Climate

Could rail be the sustainable long-distance freight transport the world…

Energy

Abandoned oil and gas wells in the US are leaking significant…