the national interest

By the Way, a Trump Presidency Would Also Cook the Planet

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Aside from the crotch-grabbing, dictator-loving, refusal to disclose his taxes, Muslim-banning, constant fraud, and other distinct touches Donald Trump has brought to the campaign, it bears mentioning that he would also unleash catastrophic, runaway climate change. Trump and the Republican Congress promise to immediately repudiate the Paris Climate Agreement and tear up all domestic regulation related to climate change.

A new study by Lux Research projects that Trump would reverse eight years of declining emissions under the Obama administration:

The real damage this would do is harder to calculate directly, since it depends on the overseas ramifications. The first international agreement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions was forged less than a year ago, and relies upon delicate negotiations in which the Obama administration’s promise to reduce emissions played an integral role. The crucial role of American leadership, and demands for reciprocity by developing countries, suggests that if the United States embraced a drill-baby-drill policy, other countries would respond in kind. It would be very hard to rebuild an international consensus for cooperation once the United States has demonstrated that one of its major parties is willing and able to shut down all limits on carbon emission anytime it wins an election.

At some point, green energy will get affordable enough that there will be little economic incentive to burn fossil fuels. In the meantime, the Paris Climate Agreement is the main thing standing between the planet and rapid, runaway global warming with staggering costs to humanity. Trump’s presidency would probably unleash one of the greatest calamities in human history. And hardly anybody is talking about it! None of the presidential debate moderators brought up climate change, and the issue has barely featured in Clinton’s most prominent attacks (which are, sensibly enough, focused on the ways her opponent veers off from the normal-crazy Republican line rather than the ways he conforms to it). And, to be fair, it is hard to focus on a catastrophe that will mostly plague future generations when we are staring the imminent election of an authoritarian goon in the face.

Still, Trump’s plan to resume unlimited greenhouse-gas emissions is really, really bad, and the chance it might come to pass next week is quite terrifying.

By the Way, a Trump Presidency Would Also Cook the Planet