Drowned World

Among the many reasons why the “Progressives must reach out to Trump supporters!” argument is so questionable is that it’s hard to reach out to people who have made it quite clear that the health and safety of future generations doesn’t interest them much. If you’re a progressive who spent years fighting the threat posed by the Keystone XL pipeline, you’re not necessarily wrong to feel, shall we say, less than charitable towards those who, by their vote, have cleared a path for the construction of a pipeline that climate scientist James Hansen warned five years ago would be “game over” for the planet in terms of emissions:

TransCanada said it hopes to persuade a new Trump administration to revive the controversial Keystone XL crude oil pipeline that President Obama rejected on Nov. 6, 2015.

Taking advantage of President-elect Trump’s vow to launch a series of major infrastructure programs, Calgary-based TransCanada said it was “evaluating ways to convince the new administration on the benefits, the jobs and the tax revenues this project brings to the table.”

“TransCanada remains fully committed to building Keystone XL,” the company said.

TransCanada’s seven-year effort to obtain a permit from the State Department needed to cross an international border was one of the central environmental battles of the Obama administration. Environmental groups count the rejection of the pipeline as one of their main achievements after Obama rejected the permit shortly before the international climate accord was signed in Paris.

As I told Ted McIntyre of the Massachusetts Climate Action Network yesterday, barring a changing of the guard in the House and Senate in 2018, federal action on the climate crisis is gone, baby, gone, thanks to millions of voters who backed a Republican whose energy policy is drill, baby, drill. Those who cast their lot with Trump will bear historical responsibility for the climate disasters to come, as John Abraham notes:

George W. Bush was [previously] the worst president ever on climate change. Back then, with the reality of climate change not as widely known, it is conceivable to give voters a pass. But not now. Anyone who voted for Trump shares the responsibility for what is now inevitable…

It’s really too bad because many conservatives certainly don’t want to destroy the Earth’s climate. Furthermore, there are some conservatives who do take climate change seriously. However, when a central belief to conservatism results in decades of inaction, it makes it impossible to avoid staring facts in the face.

Conservatives own climate change.

Conservatives own the consequences of climate change.

They own the increased droughts, more severe storms, sea level rise, and floods.

They own the heat waves, the loss of habitat and the shifting climate zones.

They own the climate refugees, the resulting political strive, and climate conflicts.

They own it all.

Perhaps reliably blue states will prove to be citadels for climate action. After all, during the Bush years, California and several Northeastern states took responsibility for addressing carbon pollution in the face of Dubya’s dithering. If these states don’t move as aggressively as possible on climate, then the United States will give the clearest possible signal to the rest of the world that the Paris agreement wasn’t worth the recycled paper it was printed on.

Those who voted for Trump voted to destroy the Clean Power Plan. Those who voted for Trump declared that they hated Al Gore, Bill McKibben, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton more than they loved their children and their grandchildren. Those who voted for Trump made it clear that in their view, science is to be scorned.

What about those who didn’t vote for Trump? Can the Clinton states be galvanized to push for aggressive state-level climate action? After the Supreme Court hornswoggled Gore out of the Presidency sixteen years ago, the former Vice President led an international effort to address carbon pollution. However, under a Trump Administration, all climate politics will be state and local. Perhaps Secretary Clinton will use her voice to encourage the states that voted for her to move as expeditiously as possible towards strong renewable portfolio standards, increased use of electric vehicles, expansion of solar energy and investment in public transportation. The blue states need to be as green as possible, or our future will fade to black.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.