There are many reasons for supporting the anti-Trump protests this week, writes Alan Thornett. It has become increasingly clear that Trump can do immeasurable damage not only to politics across the planet but to its life support systems.
During Blair’s premiership, when he was moving rapidly to the right, he was accused of doing this in order to win right-wing and middle England votes. His reply was: no, it is worse that than that, ‘I really believe in all this’.
It’s the same with Trump. The debate as to whether the reactionary, alt-right, racist, white supremacist, misogynist, and nationalist agenda on which he fought the election was just designed to drum up votes from the red-necks or whether it would be the basis of his presidency is also over. In fact the reality has been worse that his campaign presaged. He didn’t mention, for example, dragging the children of migrants from the arms of their parents and putting them in cages in his election campaign.
Most frightening of all are his actions in term of the long term future of the planet itself—its future as a viable life support system. He has withdrawn the USA –the world’s second largest producer of greenhouse gas – from the Paris agreement, which could prove to be the crucial tipping point which spins the whole climate system out of control. He has also ended all federal expenditure on both climate research and climate monitoring that will impact on the global preparation to defend the planet.
He has halted all federal funding for alternative energy and is vigorously promoting fossil energy including reopening coal mines and expanding all forms of fossil fuel production, including fracking and tar-sands.
In its 2019 budget plan, the Trump White House has cut the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) spending on environmental initiatives to roughly two hundred million dollars, a reduction of seventy per cent from typical Obama-era spending.
Such cuts include US funding to the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre which studies climate change to develop strategies to minimise its impact in a highly vulnerable region. It is prey not only to extreme weather events but to the effects of climate change; rising sea levels, coral-reef bleaching, droughts and their effects on agriculture, and the infrastructure on which the Caribbean’s forty-four million people depend.
The poorest countries in the world, including those in the Caribbean, emit about one-fifth of global carbon emissions, yet they are the most susceptible to the effects of climate change. But when over 4000 people died in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria and its aftermath Trump said that it was ‘not a real catastrophe‘.And in Africa, the Trump has moved to eliminate all funding for climate-related or environmental projects, including reforestation, across the continent, including Senegal, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Indonesia—one of the biggest carbon emitters in the world.
It is true that Obama’s ecological policies were weak and inadequate. But we are now at a new level of danger – both in terms of how close we are to tipping points and how bad Trump’s agenda is. If he is not stopped, we could end up looking back and saying that he was the final straw that pushed the planet over the ecological edge.
It is also true that there is strong resistance to Trump’s ecological agenda in the USA. His withdrawal from Paris is unpopular and even big business is reluctant to reinvest in fossil fuel which they recognise as historically outdated. It is also true that there is strong resistance to Trump’s ecological agenda at the level of the individual states, in California for example.
But none of this can be relied on. Trumpism has to be broken. There is no guarantee that he would not win a second term and if he did it would be even more environmentally destructive than the first.
There will be many protests in different parts of Britain to greet Trump when he arrives. The Campaign against Climate Change is organising a climate bloc on the London demonstration on Friday, which RedGreenLabour supporters are urged to join.