Crisis-Maker-in-Chief Robs Americans of Capacity for Climate Action
Donald Trump’s insistent stoking of “a constant sense of crisis” is robbing America of the capacity to concentrate on complex problems, as well as the time required to come up with solutions—both needed immediately to fight climate change, writes 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben in a post for The Guardian.
That much of the United States has “all but stopped paying attention to climate change,” he writes, is strongly suggested by a review of the New York Times op ed pages for the first five months of this year where, out of 660 essays, only “six seemed to bear some relation to this planet-scale trauma”.
Like this story? Subscribe to The Energy Mix and never miss an edition of our free e-digest.
While “1% of the possible attention is too little for this crisis,” McKibben stresses that he’s “not calling out the New York Times,” whose “editorial board, for decades, has been stalwart in its commitment to climate action”, and whose “coverage of the current moment has been responsible, even exemplary.”
But he asks: “When the president is baiting North Korea and separating infants from their mothers, how do you write about anything else?”
More broadly, “the constant sense of crisis that Trump creates—the endless tweets implying he might be about to further upend the constitution, or launch some new trade war—takes a toll beyond each day’s chaos,” McKibben writes. “It is robbing us of the concentration we need to focus on issues that demand that attention over the long term, attention that can’t endlessly be drawn away.”
Which means that, when it comes to climate action, the most important thing Donald Trump is robbing his country of is time. “Climate change comes with a limit. We don’t have four years to waste ignoring it, not when Arctic sea ice is reaching new lows and temperatures are breaking records.”
And then there is all the tremendously hopeful news that gets lost amid the latest Twitter tirade. “The biggest climate news of the year,” writes McKibben, “was probably New York City mayor Bill de Blasio’s January decision to divest its giant pension funds from fossil fuels and sue the big oil companies, but one that slid by amid the constant Trumpian clatter.”
Trump won’t be in power forever. [Just 145 sleeps until U.S. mid-term elections—Ed.] But “even if a new president some day takes up climate seriously,” he says, “the carbon we’re spewing now will still be in the atmosphere to haunt us over geological time. Time is the trouble.”