Many voices from
various parts of the political spectrum joined to defeat the
ill-considered replacement of the Affordable Care Act in the House
this past week. This unity of moderate Republicans with the Freedom
Caucus and House Democrats was the result of a vigorous
outpouring from constituents during the recent congressional recess.
Once the contents of the bill were actually mooted, and people
understood that it was not just “other folks” - including the
forgotten poor – who would lose their healthcare, but a significant
number of those in the middle class as well as the working poor,,
then the bill was dead.
impatient with congressional politics, decided to move on. Having
already severely weakened the EPA earlier on, he followed this major
defeat a few days later with a barrage of executive orders, combined
with a draconian [proposed budget designed to cripple environmental
protections of all sort. This “sledgehammer”
has unified the environmental community for a terrific fight
. Such a
fight, however, will not be won by an outcry from Greens, but by
forging a new national consensus, much as progressives feel that the
Trumpcare bill's defeat opens the door for a single-payer system like
the rest of the developed world.
important, but we desperately need to care for the health of the
earth, what the faith community calls Earthcare. Only with a
minimally healthy Earth system can we have not only personal and
community health, but all the advantages, comforts, opportunities,
and approachable challenges that together make up civilization.
Organized society itself depends upon Earth health, as the increasing
number of failed states due to climate change (especially water
shortages, and, increasingly, regional famine) starkly illustrates.
not fast enough, our country has been approaching a consensus on
this. As I pointed out here, both parties acknowledged climate change
in their 2012 platforms. Despite the denialism that has been a
hallmark of the GOP and the corporate disinformation campaign they
have abetted,behind the political smokescreens and cartoons, folks
are finally starting to get it . The last national poll on global warming found almost 60% of Republican voters accepting its fact. The united front of Republican
denialism was starting to crumble before this election, and even
after that cataclysm, the number of Republicans in the House climate
caucus has grown (they actually lost one in the Senate, due to NH
Senator Kelly Ayotte's defeat).
Yet now we have the
ongoing Trump disaster. Only it's not just one terrible bill, but a
whole host of things, much of it pivoting upon the choice of Scott
Pruitt as head of the EPA. This past week has seen a series of
executive orders attempting to cancel much of Obama's environmental
legacy – the Keystone Pipeline now has a green light, CAFE
standards are being dropped, and the Clean Power Plan gutted. All
this accompanied by a presidential 2018 budget proposal that
eviscerates environmental protections and climate change regulations.
A budget is a moral document, and this one lays it on the line: this
President does not value the Earth or the well-being of its
inhabitants, human or otherwise.
To take one prime
example of the folly of all this, relaxing CAFE standards
, which have
been a bi-partisan effort through multiple administrations, will
actually weaken the US auto industry. Dropping these carefully
ratcheted increases in efficiency, combined with Trump's proposed
cross-border tariffs, will signal global customers that the future is
elsewhere. That future includes electronic vehicles, whose sales are
booming worldwide. Rather than helping the auto industry reduce
costs, it will collapse demand for its products, which will be
retrograde. Not only does this proposal damage the atmosphere, it
will undercut the very business it purports to help. This is not a
matter for a real estate moghul, abetted by ideologically-charged
pseudo-economists to recklessly wade into.
Clean Power Plan works in favor of several regional economies and of
some big states, including Red Texas. A trio of western governors,
from Oregon, Washington, and California, have come out with a joint
statement stoutly defending it, and committing their states to
meeting those standards. I expect this will be true of the New
England consortium of states, and Gov. Cuomo of New York came out with a joint statement this week with Jerry Brown affirming the plan as well. This aspect of Trump's defiance may help
some states economically in the short run, but it will not revive coal, which has been left
stranded by economic forces stronger than any faux-populist
America-first language. And both of these attempted rollbacks must
pass several bureaucratic hurdles before implementation. It will be
a long fight.
As for the Paris
Accord, the prevailing position within the administration is that we
should nominally stay in the UN protocol network, but drop our
commitment towards emissions reductions. This would give us
political leverage, while cynically washing our hands of the moral
commitment. Our leadership in this crucial global effort will be
dead, and our biggest competitor, China, will assume that compromised
mantle. It is clear that, under Trump's broad assault, the world's
tiny sliver of a chance to keep warming below 2C is doomed.
Sadly, our efforts
as a nation, and the concerted effort of the UNFCCC over decades,
were already insufficient to halt climate disruption. Unless
Trump's broad assault is reversed, the next chance for global
cooperation on climate will be desperate geo-engineering projects.
It is time to put this immoral, incompetent regime under total
siege. The Earth's health depends upon it, as do our communities,
civic order, and any remaining possibility for sustainable life for
Labels: 2017 budget, ACA, CAFE, Clean Power Plan, Earthcare, EPA, Freedom Caucus, House republican climate caucus, Scott Pruitt, Trumpcare, UNFCCC