An Inconvenient Goof

Clean air and clean water are overrated.

That’s not my conclusion; that’s the obvious conclusion of those who voters who supported Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, only to turn around and vote for his polar opposite, Donald Trump, in 2016. These voters knew full well that Trump regarded the threat of human-caused climate change as fictional, and would seek to sabotage Obama’s valiant efforts to protect the health and safety of future generations–but they apparently didn’t care.

The likely fate of their children and grandchildren should haunt their conscience, if Trump is successful in watering down Obama’s trailblazing Clean Power Plan:

The Trump administration will repeal the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s effort to fight climate change, and will ask the public to recommend ways it could be replaced, according to an internal Environmental Protection Agency document.

The draft proposal represents the administration’s first substantive step toward rolling back the plan, which was designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector, after months of presidential tweets and condemnations of Mr. Obama’s efforts to reduce climate-warming pollution.

But it also lays the groundwork for new, presumably weaker, regulations by asking for the public and industry to offer ideas for a replacement.

The E.P.A. document, “October 2017 Tiering List,” lays out coming policy issues of high priority for the agency’s office of air and radiation, which oversees air pollution policies.

“The agency is issuing a proposal to repeal the rule,” the document states. It says the agency will issue a formal notice of its intention to develop a new rule “similarly intended to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil-fueled electric utility generating units and to solicit information for the agency to consider in developing such a rule.”

One wonders if Obama-Trump voters paid any attention at all to Hillary Clinton’s denunciation of the Donald’s denialism during last year’s presidential debates. Did they watch James Cameron’s call to climate action during the 2016 Democratic National Convention? Did they notice Trump’s pledge of allegiance to polluters during his campaign?

Five years ago, in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes declared:

Carbon emissions are trapping extra energy in our atmosphere, and with extra energy come more extremes: higher sea levels, dryer droughts, hotter heat waves, and heavier, wetter storms.

We need a crash program in this country right now to re-engineer the nation’s infrastructure to cope with and prepare for the climate disruptions that we have already ensured with the carbon we’ve already put into the atmosphere, as well as an immediate, aggressive transformation of our energy production, economy and society to reduce the amount of carbon we’ll put into the atmosphere in the future.

This is as fundamental, as elemental as human endeavors get. The story of civilization is the long tale of crusaders for order battling the unceasing reality of chaos. And it is a kind of miracle that we have succeeded as much as we have, that airplanes fly through the air, and roads plunge beneath the water and the entire teeming latticework of human life exists in the manifold improbable places it does. But it is the grand irony that in imposing this improbable order on the world, we’ve released millions of years of stored up carbon into the atmosphere, which is now altering the climate and threatening the very monuments of civilization that we so cherish.

We absolutely have it within us, collectively, to beat back the forces of chaos once again. But we must choose to do so. And the time for choosing is now. You are either on the side of your fellow citizens and residents of this planet, or you are on the side of the storms as yet unnamed.

You cannot be neutral.

Which side are you on?

The logic of those who sided with their “fellow citizens and residents of this planet” in 2008 and 2012, only to side with “the storms as yet unnamed” in 2016, is incomprehensible. It was clear to all but the comatose that Trump’s energy policies threatened to push our planet past the climate tipping point. Why didn’t the Obama-Trump voters care? Were Clinton’s e-mails that big of an issue?

In his second inaugural address, Obama famously proclaimed, “We will respond to the threat of climate change.” Nearly four years after he delivered that speech, some of the folks who voted for him decided they really didn’t give a damn about that issue. By doing so, they may well have damned this planet.

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.