WILDERNESS THREATENED A polar bear sow and cub in the protected Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, which Trump plans to open up to oil and gas development. Pic: Alan D Wilson/naturespicsonline.com
Nature and rewilding
Voting to elect the next president of the United States being held on Tuesday, November 3, and it’s now or never if I’m to vent my spleen on the subject of one Donald J Trump.
He might call himself a ‘great environmentalist’, but Trump and his administrations record on environmental issues has been destructive to say the least. Rolling back 64 environmental rules and regulations with an additional 34 in progress. Some environmentalists are concerned that his reelection would result in severe and irreversible changes in climate and public health.
An information deficit is evident in his decision making. Trump, by his own admission, doesn’t read much; his thinking based on what he sees on TV and the gossip he hears when talking to friends and associates during telephone conversations. According to his former security advisor John R Bolton, he won’t take advice. Unlike previous US presidents, he isn’t learning and growing by tapping into his predecessors’ knowledge and experience.
Is he crazy or stupid? I think it’s neither, I have to agree with others who’ve concluded that Trump is as crazy as a fox. Linguists have studied his speech, and rather than being the loose cannon you’d expect, experts have detected he is a skilled manipulator of the truth. Everything is ‘the greatest’ and ‘the best’. He knows only too well how to garner support from his base.
Emboldened by his unwavering supporters Trump once proclaimed: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”
His vocabulary increasingly exaggerated and fantastical, these are the words of the ultimate salesman who’s managed to get the ultimate prize, the presidency of the United States of America, leader of the free world. And he is still Trumpeting like his words don’t matter at a time when the world needs leadership during the pandemic. Instead of the sound advise we need, he postulates that maybe we could inject disinfectant into our veins to kill the coronavirus.
In fact, he’s probably been the largest source of disinformation on Covid 19 in the world. The virus hasn’t been buying any of it, and I’m hoping the American voters won’t buy any of it either.
For those who watch the president’s movements, his most egregious statement was yet to come. Tweeting from his hospital bed ‘Don’t be afraid of Covid’, ‘Don’t let it dominate your life’, hit by the virus himself and surrounded by a dozen world-class doctors that would cost an ordinary citizen hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is worth remembering that 217,000 Americans have died from Covid 19.
Recently, Trump told conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh that he has lost five friends to Covid-19, one close friend passing away after only three days in hospital. He knows only too well how deadly this virus really is, which makes his remarks about not fearing it even more insidious.
But back to the environment. Average global temperatures have risen by more than 1°C (2°F) since 1880. Shockingly, two-thirds of this warming has occurred since 1975. There is an overwhelming scientific consensus these rising temperatures are being driven by human actions. Trump’s view? “It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch... I don’t think science knows, actually.” He fiddles while his own west coast burns, while scorching temperatures, increased flooding and more-intense storms batter his nation.
In August, he finalised plans to open up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas drilling. The move overturns six decades of protections for the largest remaining stretch of pristine wilderness in America, home to migrating caribou and waterfowl, as well as polar bears and Arctic foxes that live there year-round. Great environmentalist my eye.
Anything can happen in politics. Trump is the proof of that, but Joe Biden has, I believe, a very good chance of being elected next president of the United States. His qualities of empathy and humanity well known. Exactly what the world needs right now.
Whatever the outcome, we all need a little hope at this time, hope that empathy and humanity will be triumph over self-interest, and hope that further long-term damage to the only planet we’ve got can be slowed or halted.
Pat Fahy is Biodiversity Officer with Westport Tidy Towns.