Donald Trump’s stunning victory has left millions in dread, and moved thousands into the streets to protest, as the media speculate about what he might do next. Fear is spreading among immigrants, Muslims, and other minorities. The 20 million people who have received health
insurance under Obamacare worry about Trump’s vow to repeal it. Will he really tear up the Iran nuclear deal or order the CIA to start torturing people again? All of these are serious concerns, but it is Trump’s denial of catastrophic climate change—he has repeatedly said he considers it a “hoax”—and his vow to reverse all of the progress made under President Obama to address it that poses one of the most chilling and potentially irreversible threats.
Voters heard little about climate change during the endless election campaign. The contrast between the two candidates on the issue was like night and day, with Hillary Clinton promising to expand on Obama’s climate initiatives and Trump vowing to repeal them. Yet not one question about climate change was posed in any of the presidential debates. The media gave more airtime to the size of Trump’s hands than to the scope of his climate delusion.
The stakes are enormous. Climate change isn’t some distant concern; it is a very real and present danger. Trump may not accept that, but the generals in the Pentagon have no doubt. The Defense Department reports that climate change is an “urgent and growing threat to our national security,” contributing to “increased natural disasters, refugee flows and conflicts over basic resources.… These impacts are already occurring and the scope, scale and intensity…are projected to increase.” In January, the Pentagon ordered its officials to “incorporate climate change impacts into plans…across the full range of military operations,” from weapons testing to preparing troops for war.
The fact is, climate change is already here. Most of the summer sea ice in the Arctic has melted, causing a deluge of warm water to sweep across the South Pacific this past spring, killing a massive amount of coral and destroying a shocking percentage of the Great Barrier Reef off the Australian coast. The warming has caused steady increases in droughts and record flooding in wet areas, and it’s already begun to raise sea levels. Scientists now suggest that, even with last December’s Paris Agreement on climate change, we are on a trajectory to increase the earth’s temperature by 3.5 degrees Celsius or more by 2100. If that happens, great American cities—including Miami, New Orleans, and New York—will be underwater. Our food-producing plains will burn up. In many areas of the planet, it will be too hot to work outside for much of the year.