There are a lot of reasons to rue the fact that Donald Trump will be our next president. But if you accept the reality of man-made climate change — and are fond of human civilization and/or coral reefs — the president-elect’s indifference to the Earth’s warming should probably top your list.
Trump’s election jeopardizes the Obama administration’s entire climate agenda: the Paris climate accords, the Clean Power Plan, new regulations on energy efficiency and coal pollution and various subsidies for green technology. At a time when the North Pole is experiencing record temperatures and sea ice is thinning — and when developed nations need to be slashing emissions by roughly 10 percent a year to keep from eclipsing the two-degree Celsius threshold that triggers self-reinforcing feedback loops of catastrophic warming — the most powerful nation on Earth has elected a man who suspects that climate change is a Chinese hoax.
But don’t worry! No need to burst into tears the next time you see a small child: Trump’s top campaign surrogate has decided to make climate change one of her “signature issues.”
A source close to Ivanka Trump has told Politico that the soon-to-be first daughter plans to use her new mantle to “speak out” about climate change.
“The issues she’s talking about are ones she’s always talked about,” the anonymous source told the news outlet. “These are totally consistent with what she’s developed with her brand. She is playing a critical role in being able to have issues that moderate and liberal women care about — and creating a bridge to the other side.”
In other words, Ivanka Trump’s plan for averting climate catastrophe appears to be:
1. Help make a climate-change denier the leader of the free world.
3. Profit (via advocacy that broadens the appeal of her lifestyle brand).
But okay. Bracketing Ivanka’s motives and/or strategic reasoning, her opposition to destroying the planet could be of some use. After all, she’s probably the most powerful Democrat in the United States right now. If she can convince her father that backing out of the Paris climate treaty is a bad idea — or that he could maximize the number of buildings with his name on them by rolling out Trump-branded solar panels — she could do a lot of good.
But that would require less speaking out, and more speaking up in the company of the president-elect. Which is to say: The fate of humanity may rest on whether Ivanka Trump sees climate change as a catastrophic threat or mere branding opportunity.