I actually was ready to post today about the changes on the Galápagos Islands over the past 13 years. But after last night, I cannot do that. I have spend the last weeks on Galápagos cruise ships with many guests from the United States. Obviously the presidential campaign was topic during many a dinners. As to be expected from people going on nature cruises, most of the people I talked to were Clinton supporters. Maybe not from the bottoms of their hearts, but being interested in nature conservation, they could not see any good in Trump and thus sided with Clinton. But some of the guests spoke out for Trump, seeing him as the better alternative. I couldn't wrap my head about this: how can you tour the Galápagos Island, and appreciate the fragile and very special ecosystems here, and vote for someone who will do his best to destroy all of it?
Our actions back at home, wherever that might be, has influences on the whole world, and thus, also on the Galápagos Islands. Being such a sensitive ecosystem, connected via ocean and air currents to the northern and southern hemisphere, to the east and the west, many effects of our actions will hit the islands earlier and harder than most other places.
I am scared of what will happen with Donald Trump in such a powerful political position. I do worry about human rights. But I do worry at least as much about what it means for humanity as a whole. We are living in a time where resolute and quick actions have to be taken to prevent climate change to destroy the basis of our societies. Actions which will be unpopular with many, which mean economic losses, and which will change our lives. While Trump certainly has no problems taking unpopular actions in general, he never takes any that make him unpopular with big money and big oil, he certainly would never consider economic loss for a “greater good”. Though he will change our lives, not the way I want them to change.
Lets have a look what he actually said about climate change and the environment generally. And see what implications that will have for the future not only of the US American people, but all people on planet Earth.
First of all – and I guess we all heard about this by now – he doesn't believe that climate change is real. He tweeted in 2012: „The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.“ Now you can say „that was 2012 – perhaps he has changed his mind?“. He could have, but apparently didn't. In 2014 he tweets: „ It's late in July and it is really cold outside in New York. Where the hell is GLOBAL WARMING??? We need some fast! It's now CLIMATE CHANGE“. Yes, because the term“global warming“ made it too easy for people like Trump to use individual weather events as populist measures to ignore the changes happening to Earth's climate. Hence „climate change“, because very cold temperatures in July in New York are not within the long-term average of weather conditions. That is what „change in climate“ means. But Trump continues in his tweets to joke about the change of terms, making quite clear that he doesn't understand the topic at all, and wishes to ignore it. Such head-in-the-sand politics are exactly what we need from high ranking politicians.
But then, if Trump would accept climate change as something real, he couldn't call for a stop of wasting financial resources on climate change. Because yes, a lot of money is going into climate research, into finding and improving alternative energies, into preventing more damage, and into climate change mitigation and adaptation projects. Not enough, but still a lot. But why invest in fighting the cause of problems, when we can fight their effects? Lets just build desalination plants to fight droughts, subsidies and facilitate the fossil fuel energy sector, so that enough power can be produced to have aircons running to fight heat waves. Trump promised to withdraw from the Paris agreement and stop payments to the United Nations climate projects. Good bye 2 °C goal! Welcome droughts, floods, heat waves, and hurricanes!
"In a Trump administration, there will be shared governance of our public lands and we will empower state and local governments to protect our wildlife and fisheries,". One of the few statements that don't sound too bad. If it hadn't been followed by "Laws that tilt the scales toward special interests must be modified to balance the needs of society with the preservation of our valuable living resources.". My guess is, special interest means nature conservation and not big oil. „We are going to revoke policies that impose unwarranted restrictions on new drilling technologies.“ says the man who has vowed to get miners back to work in coal fields. And with his plan to double the US American economy, he basically has to get rid of the carbon tax or cap-and-trade system, which he declared to be a „job killer“, just like President Obama's push for alternative energies. He even called the current US President's Clean Power Plan „stupid“ and promised to roll back most of his administration's environmental policies. But what else would you expect from someone who calls oil the lifeblood of all economies and has holdings in many petroleum companies. Isn't there maybe a tiny conflict of interests?
Although, occasionally Trump consulted with environmental protection and conservation groups. It is rare but apparently happened in context of some of his Golf course construction projects. Not that he necessarily heeded their advice. Anyhow, the man saying that clean water may be the "most important issue we face as a nation for the next generation," makes money off Golf courses, one of the most water wasting land usages possible. The Bedminster site needs 69 million gallons of water a year to keep the grass green. Yes, with more Golf courses access to clean water will be the nations most important issue! Not to mention the cutting down of hundreds of trees in Virginia or fighting against an off-shore wind park in Scotland, because both, the trees and the turbines, would impede the golfers' view on the Potomac River or the North Sea respectively. Maybe it were the aesthetic implications of the Scottish wind farm that made Trump such a hater of wind energy?
I think, Trump concluded his plans quite nicely in last nights victory speech: „We have a great economic plan. We will double our growth and have the strongest economy anywhere in the world.” …build on fossil fuels, based on producing more and more stuff nobody needs, which will litter the oceans, pollute ground water, and singlehandedly raises the global temperature average by more than 2 °C. To do so, he promises to “get along with all other nations willing to get along with us.“