During the U.S. presidential debates, there was not one single question devoted to the topic of climate change. And it appears that the results from the election have only amplified the silence that Americans seem to have on the subject of the environment.
In a stunning turn of events, US voters elected conservative businessman Donald Trump as the next President of the United States. Trump will now become the only world leader to actively deny that climate change is real, which means that the environment is about to suffer an enormous blow.
And that's not speculation -- that is exactly what Donald Trump told Americans just days before the general election.
As Think Progress reported, Trump told supporters on October 26th that he would end the "wasteful" spending on climate action:
"I will also cancel all wasteful climate change spending from Obama-Clinton, including all global warming payments to the United Nations. These steps will save $100 billion over 8 years, and this money will be used to help rebuild the vital infrastructure, including water systems, in America's inner cities."
Technically, eliminating this $100 billion will never happen because the United States does not actually spend that much on climate actions or "payments to the UN," but when combined with spending on renewable energy projects, the 8-year total would actually be roughly $100 billion.
This implies that Donald Trump is willing and ready to deprive these essential renewable projects of funding in order to double down on fossil fuels. His statement also shows that he will likely strip every penny of funding away from vital actions to protect our environment and help to save American citizens from the increasingly dangerous effects of climate change.
- Increased coal production, as Trump promised to put out-of-work coal miners back to work, blaming the decline on the industry on President Obama rather than a global decrease in demand.
- The Keystone Pipeline will become a reality.
- Oil drilling and fracking will be given the go-ahead to increase activities both onshore and off.
- Remove any and all safety regulations that are in place to protect sensitive environmental areas and human health, and possibly dismantling the entire Environmental Protection Agency.
- Repeal bans on selling oil to overseas countries.
- Increase offshore energy exploitation.
In short, his proposals read like the talking points of every other fossil fuel-funded politician that has been in this position long before Donald Trump. More drilling, more fracking, fewer safety regulations, and less regard for the environment.
Also during his campaign, Trump promised to create half a million jobs in the dirty energy sector by opening up offshore oil drilling and tapping onshore reserves of shale, oil, natural gas, and coal.
But Donald Trump will not be operating by himself, and that's why things are actually scarier than they appear. The majority of Republicans who will be serving in the House and Senate when the new Congress convenes in January 2017 deny climate change, and that means that the Republican Party's 2016 platform will set the guidelines for what these Republicans attempt to accomplish now that they will control both the Legislative and Executive branches of government.
Here are a few items from the Republican Party platform that are likely to become a reality in the new administration, from Steven Rosenfeld at Alternet:
Start repealing environmental laws: "We call for a comprehensive review of federal regulations, especially those dealing with the environment, that make it harder and more costly for Americans to rent, buy, or sell homes."
Open America's shores to more oil and gas drilling: "We support the opening of public lands and the outer continental shelf to exploration and responsible production, even if these resources will not be immediately developed."
Build the Keystone XL Pipeline: "The Keystone Pipeline has become a symbol of everything wrong with the current Administration's ideological approach. After years of delay, the President killed it to satisfy environmental extremists. We intend to finish that pipeline and others as part of our commitment to North American energy security."
Expand fracking and burying nuclear waste: "A federal judge has struck down the BLM's rule on hydraulic fracturing and we support upholding this decision. We respect the states' proven ability to regulate the use of hydraulic fracturing, methane emissions, and horizontal drilling, and we will end the Administration's disregard of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act with respect to the long-term storage of nuclear waste."
No tax on carbon products: "We oppose any carbon tax… We urge the private sector to focus its resources on the development of carbon capture and sequestration technology still in its early stages here and overseas. "
Ignore global climate change agreements: "The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a political mechanism, not an unbiased scientific institution. Its unreliability is reflected in its intolerance toward scientists and others who dissent from its orthodoxy. We will evaluate its recommendations accordingly. We reject the agendas of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, which represent only the personal commitments of their signatories; no such agreement can be binding upon the United States until it is submitted to and ratified by the Senate."
The oil and gas industries gave a staggering $88 million to politicians during the 2016 election cycle, with 88% of that money going to Republicans.
That investment has paid off tremendously for fossil fuel interests, and they are poised to get every item on their anti-environmental, anti-regulatory wishlists checked off in short order.
Meanwhile, the environment is going to take some massive hits at a time when the evidence of climate change is right before our eyes.