Here’s the full transcript of the interview:
BP: It’s almost a year since Donald Trump became the president of the United States. What major changes has he made during this time that affected the climate change? In what way these changes affected the climate change?
A: Trump has been a positive catalyst for the worldwide effort to fix the global warming/climate change problem. Interestingly, Trump’s rejection of the validity of anthropogenic climate change galvanized the world community in favor of tackling climate change more so than pre-Trump. Also, it is an open secret that world leaders ridicule Trump behind his back and make fun of his lack of enlightenment about world affairs. Unfortunately, Trump relies upon outlets like Fox TV as his source of knowledge about socio-economic-politico affairs, which is kind of like studying astrophysics to learn to scuba-dive. As such, he’s totally clueless and out of step with modern-day awareness and wisdom. He’s missing the key ingredient of broad-mindedness that fosters enlightened leadership. In fact, Trump represents the antithesis of insightfulness, which is dullness and imbecilic foolishness.
However, thanks to an enlightened reaction to Trump’s negativity about anthropogenic climate change, a recent survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, as of Sept. 2017, found American cities, in reaction to Trump’s ignorance, pushing ahead with climate change efforts faster than before. This is but one more example of Trump’s stupidity having the opposite impact. The survey covered 102 cities from 35 states representing 42 million Americans. Nearly two-thirds of responding cities are buying green vehicles, utilizing more and more renewable electricity and adopting energy-efficient building codes. Also, 85% of respondent cities are actually forming partnerships with businesses on climate solutions for electricity, buildings, and transportation.
Since Trump declared a withdrawal from Paris ’15, several state governors have vowed to continue upholding the Paris climate accord and press ahead with policies to fight global warming. In total, 34 of the 50 states have added to their ambitious carbon reduction plans already underway.
However, Trump’s hard line on global warming/climate change should not be misconstrued to be positive simply because it motivates others to do the opposite, as it leaves one of the world’s largest carbon emitters out of the equation for fixing the global warming problem. After all, when measuring world carbon footprints, on a per ton/per capita basis, the U.S. at 15 is double other nations, e.g., China at 8 and the EU at 7 and 2 for India. On an aggregate basis, the two biggest emitters are China and the U.S., but by way of an interesting paradox, China’s renewable expenditures are more than the total renewable expenditures of the U.S. and the EU combined. On nearly all scores, the U.S. is a basket case when it comes to causing global warming as well as tackling it.
BP: How has the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement impacted other countries and their reaction to this global problem?
A: World leaders are sharply critical. In point of fact, global warming/climate change has become so readily apparent to such an undeniable degree that anybody who disagrees is labeled a fool. Climate change is indisputable, as it is measured around the world. There are no secrets or hidden agendas when it comes to the obvious impact of global warming on the biosphere. It is easily measured and a clear threat to civilization, as we know it.
Indeed, in several instances, the ecosystem is already showing signs of collapse, which is a subject beyond the scope of this questionnaire. In fact, ecosystem breakdown is more pressing and dangerous to humanity than is global warming. FYI, the Trump administration is exacerbating the destruction of the ecosystem like never before throughout recent American history. This is a tragedy in the making, happening right before our eyes but not covered by media.
Unfortunately, regarding Paris ’15, U.S. withdrawal makes it more difficult for the other 195 committed countries. U.S. emissions are 15% of the global total, and Trump’s pullout reneges the U.S. commitment of $2B unpaid commitments to the Green Climate Fund created at Paris ’15 to support projects for the developing world.
Meanwhile, Trump’s withdrawal ingratiates China ever closer to the EU by forging new alliances sans U.S. support. As such, this is an unintended consequence of how Trump undercuts U.S. relations throughout the world, which is a new, untested American foreign policy that has the potential to backfire the next time America attempts to form an international coalition, whether for war or peace. Thus, Trump is exposing America’s future to serious negative consequences.
Clearly, Trump is a deconstructionist in the Steve Bannon mode, intent upon destroying big government at the expense of the welfare of the country and its people and along the way, taking down the fight against global warming. His uncompromising destructiveness will be felt for decades to come.
BP: Syria has recently joined the Paris agreement, leaving the U.S. as the only country outside of this global endeavor. What’s your take on this?
A: The most fascinating aspect of Syria is that Nicaragua also joined as a final holdout to Paris ‘15, leaving the U.S. all alone on the outside looking in; however, Nicaragua was a late holdout because it felt Paris ’15 was too weak, and interestingly enough, Nicaragua already gets most of its energy, more than 50%, from renewables and on track to reach 90% by 2020. It’s fascinating that Nicaragua goes green, but the U.S. does not. That bespeaks a sorrowful tale.
Indeed, Paris ’15 is a very weak climate accord in terms of enforcement of its provisions. Nevertheless, it serves as a powerful symbol of worldwide recognition of the dangers of global warming, a fact, in and of itself, which makes Paris ’15 a resounding success.
Now with Syria and Nicaragua onboard, the U.S. stands isolated in the world community. Interestingly, there’s slapstick irony in regard to the Syria imbroglio, as it serves as a Ping-Pong ball for undeclared war between the U.S., Saudi Arabia (Gulf states), Israel (in the background) informal consortium versus a coalition of Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah. Indeed, Syria is an ongoing proxy for undeclared war by the U.S./Israeli consortium throughout the Middle East.
Syria has everything to gain and nothing to lose by joining Paris ‘15, and it must achieve a more favorable world opinion in order to survive with its existing government. So, joining Paris ’15 makes sense, and it’s a poke in the eye of the U.S., which President Bashar al-Assad likely relishes.
BP: Several American corporate giants, including Wal-Mart, General Motors, Ford and Mars, appeared at the second annual Companies v Climate Change conference in Miami and expressed their opposition to Trump’s policies on climate change. How are big businesses impacting the conversation about this issue?
A: Major U.S. corporations, like Apple, have been jumping on board the global warming/climate change fix-it bandwagon for some years now, and Trump’s opposition has served to accelerate their commitments.
Some of America’s most conservative business leaders like Henry Paulson, who served as Treasury secretary under Bush II, spearheaded an organization named Risky Business dedicated to fixing the climate change problem, stating the U.S. economy faces significant risks from unabated climate change. Risky Business is a billionaire boy’s club of highly influential business personalities, like Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of NYC and owner of Bloomberg News.
In general, America’s corporate chieftains are smart and enlightened individuals that have no problem recognizing the dangers inherent with global warming. In turn, companies like Wal-Mart are already testing Tesla battery packs with solar-powered stores for 24/7 renewable energy. Plus, renewable economics makes sense, always a driving force, as renewables are less expensive to operate than coal-powered energy.
It’s remarkable how many of the upper class detest Trump, who himself is amongst the wealthy class. This is a reflection of Trump’s incompetence to handle the highest office in the land. Tom Steyer, one of the billionaire founders of Risky Business, is running TV commercials, calling for the impeachment of Trump, including an Impeach Trump billboard in New York’s Times Square. Three million Americans have signed Steyer’s petition. This is unprecedented and is symbolic of an extremely sorrowful time in America. Trump is the living embodiment of a divided America unlike any time ever since the American Civil War of 150 years ago.
BP: President Trump and his administration often talk about “clean coal”, but it is not always clear what they mean by the term. What could you say about this?
A: Clean coal is one of the great oxymoronic metaphors of the 21st century. Clean coal is impossible to achieve; however, cleaner coal is already a fact, but it is not “clean coal.” In point of fact, coal powered energy plants already have reduced sulfur dioxide and nitrogen-oxide emissions, but CO2 is too big of a challenge to meet. For example, America’s coal-fired plants produce about 1.5B tons of CO2 per year. Assuming carbon capture and sequestration works, which would be the closest one can get to clean coal, capturing all of that CO2 requires filling 30M barrels with liquid CO2 every day!!! That is one and one-half times the volume of crude oil the country consumes. Here’s the problem: It took about 100 years to build-out the infrastructure to distribute all of those petroleum products. Carbon capture and sequestration would require an even larger infrastructure. Ergo, clean coal is impossible to achieve, especially with time running out before global warming cooks the planet a la Venus.
The Trump administration will likely go down in the history books as the most ignorant bunch of yahoos America’s presidency has ever encountered, as they overturn decades of socially responsible legislation. Obama’s Clean Power Plan is but one of many examples. Alarmingly, the EPA is being disassembled piece by piece. That agency single-handedly bailed out a dirty sooty America back in the 1970s. EPA’s powerful positive impact on America over the past four decades will be sorely missed, as Scott Pruitt, head of EPA, undermines its mandate to protect Americans from pollution and dangerous toxicity and excessive greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, this administration will be one of the horror stories of the 21st century and most assuredly will bring in its wake a dystopian hellhole.
America’s darkest hours are dead ahead, but the stock market does not see that way, yet, as investors unknowingly celebrate the upcoming downfall of civilization by goosing up the forces of neoliberal capitalism, which has turned the planet into a tradable commodity lusting for profits at the expense of humanity.
The ecosystem of biosphere Earth is already in deep, deep serious trouble but unrecognized by the media. The day of reckoning will be brutal.
Robert Hunziker (MA, economic history, DePaul University) is a freelance writer and environmental journalist whose articles have been translated into foreign languages and appeared in over 50 journals, magazines, and sites worldwide, like Z magazine, European Project on Ocean Acidification, Ecosocialism Canada, Climate Himalaya, Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Comite Valmy, and UK Progressive. He has been interviewed about climate change on Pacifica Radio, KPFK, FM90.7, Indymedia On Air and World View Show/UK.