DONALD Trump, if he is not forgotten like a bad nightmare, will probably be remembered as the President Who Kept His Deadly Campaign Promises. Not that politicians are normally liars. Once in office, a political leader finds himself no longer just the leader of his political party but the leader of the whole country. In the case of the US, the President of the United States is leader of the so-called free world; anyway, a leader of the whole world.
It is thus simply weird that President Trump should adopt as the theme and policy of his administration America First. It is as though America were just a former colony of itself, or just like the Philippines. Don’t you remember a Philippine president who once had a similar policy? The Carlos P. Garcia administration’s policy was “Filipino First,” but unlike Trump’s, Garcia’s slogan did not have an overarching application. Garcia called on the private sector to substitute imported goods with Philippine-made ones, and for the public to patronize the latter. That was about all. It would take Garcia’s successor, Diosdado Macapagal, to change the country’s National Day from July 4 to June 12. It would take Macapagal’s successor, Ferdinand Marcos, to assert the country’s sovereignty over the American military installations in the Philippines and considerably reduce the territory occupied by them. And it would take a volcanic eruption of global magnitude for the US to remove its military installations from the country willingly.
A fight fit for a superpower
The US during its last presidential election campaign was yet the only superpower in the world. It therefore surprised everybody when President Trump made good on his campaign promise to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The struggle to save the planet from annihilation and humanity from extinction is obviously and surely a fight fit for a superpower. How can Trump be in denial of the conclusion of all the world’s scientists worthy of being called scientists that the dangers of climate change have been bought about by human activity, but that timely action by the peoples, governments and nations of the world can save the planet from annihilation and humanity from extinction? No, President Trump is not stupid. I fear that one cannot exculpate Trump from being possibly the one whom Nostradamus prophesied as the anti-Christ, the Devil himself, as shown by his rendering Mr. Muller incapable of clear and courageous English; his turning of the US Senate and the Attorney General into his obsequious lapdogs; mesmerizing the pious denizens of the Bible Belt to turn blind to his serial immoralities, and spellbind others with the hocus-pocus he makes on his tax returns, and forgetful that because all Americans are immigrants or descendants of immigrants, except for the American Indians, Trump’s immigration policies lack heart and reason.
Edicts of Mammon
Trump has not simply withdrawn from the Paris Agreement. He has championed the Edicts of Mammon as drawn up by publicists of the fossil fuel companies. He has even appointed representatives of those companies to the helm of the US Environment Policy Administration, mandating them to reverse the initiatives put in place by the previous administration in fulfillment of US commitments under the Climate Change Agreement. The Trump administration is now also penalizing state governments setting tail pipe and other standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It has actively prevented international conferences from including climate change in their agenda and output statements.
There is no end, it appears, to what Trump will do to prevent anything from being in the way of the US becoming not only self-sufficient in fossil fuel resources but also the No.1 producer of oil in the world. Never mind if the US maintains its position as one the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Paradoxically, Trump’s position springs from his faith that the technology will be invented to save the planet from climate change. Unfortunately, scientists and engineers doubt that an effective technology can be developed in time before the earth’s path to destruction becomes irreversible.
There has been recent evidence that the Trump position on climate change does not only come from a pigheaded denial of science, but from a desire to take advantage of the misfortunes of others. Consider Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s starting speech at this year’s Arctic Council meeting, where members were concerned about the effects of the rapidly shrinking levels of sea ice in the polar region and its inhabitants, except the US delegate:
“The Arctic is at the forefront of opportunity and abundance. It houses 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil, 30 percent of undiscovered gas, an abundance of uranium, rare earth, gold, diamonds and millions of square miles of untapped resources, fisheries galore…. Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and opportunities for trade. This could potentially slash the time it takes to travel between Asia and the West by 20 days. Arctic sea lanes could become the 21st century Suez and Panama canals.” Pompeo focused his speech on the threats of possible competition from Russia and China in the use of these waterways.
Even more startling has been the news of the offer of President Trump to buy Greenland as the future site of a Trump Tower and resorts. He called the Prime Minister of Denmark “nasty” when she told him Greenland was not for sale. Why, pray, would Denmark leave it to the US to exploit the rich natural resources of their territory if they indeed existed?
Absent in all these was concern that the disappearance of the sea ice due to global warming and climate change is causing the extinction of thousands of species and the means of livelihood of indigenous communities. It has also been feared that the melting of the ice caps could release the germs of the bubonic plague and other ancient epidemics that have been buried under the ice.
There is even less concern that the reduction of the sea ice in the polar regions would have catastrophic effects on sea levels and the weather worldwide. Rising sea levels have submerged more and more of neighboring Tuvalu and other islands of the Pacific. In Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, seawater has seeped into rice fields, killing the rice; and rice farmers have switched to growing hay instead. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is faced with the challenge of developing rice varieties that can withstand saline water.
The catastrophic effects of climate change have already visited all around the world in the form of extremely hot summers and cold winters, in more frequent and destructive storms, and in record heavy rainfall and flooding. Super Typhoon “Yolanda” that hit Leyte, it seems, was not the worst yet that could befall the Philippines, judging by the hurricane that recently flattened the Bahamas. Thousands have lost their lives, their homes and properties. With governments increasingly unable to cope with the scale of the damage left by these climate change catastrophes, lawyers should be ready to file suits on behalf of victims, holding Mr. Trump and the fossil fuel companies responsible for the sufferings the latter have caused them.
The teenage activist Greta Thunberg, who has inspired a global movement involving young and old calling for action on climate change, hit the target right on center when she criticized in her recent speech at the United Nations leaders and policy-makers “who cared more about money and fairy tales of economic growth than collapsing ecosystems, mass extinctions, and people suffering due to climate change.” How can this not be directed at Trump when the US is now the only country outside of the Paris Agreement?
And no leader is more combative and contemptuous about climate defenders than Trump. He mocks Greta in his tweet. Unable to distinguish between climate and weather, he mocked climate scientists in the middle of the last, very cold winter. “What global warming are they taking about?” His attitude reminds one of Nero, singing and playing the lyre while Rome burns, in the 1951 movie “Quo Vadis.” The actor who played Nero, Peter Ustinov, had an uncanny resemblance to Trump.
I think it would be a miracle if Trump changes his attitude towards climate change. Ergo, we can only invoke divine justice. Maybe he could be struck by lightning while he gives another of his arrogant, rambling press conferences in the lawn of the White House, dishing out lies, answering criticisms with argumentum ad hominem (personal attacks) and argumentum ad baculum (fear of force).
How can one rely on the US electorate to dismiss him from office when they elected him the last time despite the better qualifications and the smaller shortcomings of his rival? How can one trust their wisdom when they keep an Electoral College that picks the loser rather than the winner of the popular vote, and when they keep a Second Amendment to their Constitution protecting the owners or holders of weapons of war attacking innocent people in schools, houses of worship and shopping malls?