It's hard to believe but there's a real possibility that November could become one of the most important months in human history, perhaps the most important.
There's an emerging consensus among the climate science types that, unless Trump and the Congressional Republicans are dislodged in the November 3 elections, it's game over for any chance the world has to avert catastrophic climate breakdown. In other words, this election isn't just about America. It may decide the fate of the world.
The window of opportunity is closing. The world doesn't have four years to waste with Trump in the White House. The man is a menace to life on Earth and nothing less than that. He is like a small tumour that must be removed before it can doom its host.
From E&E News, November, 2019:
President Donald Trump, who is seeking a second term, has questioned the science of climate change. His administration has revived pipelines that were halted under former president Barack Obama, supported the use of emissions-heavy coal, dismantled 70 environmental rules (and counting), opened up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling and pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement.
“It'll start getting cooler. You just watch,” Trump said in September, a statement that clashes with the scientific consensus.
A Trump victory would mean another four years in which the U.S. makes no progress on climate, Kathryn Harrison (UBC) said.
“If Trump wins ... I think it would be disastrous for the planet, for people’s health.”
The Paris agreement, as currently drafted, is not enough to stave off the worst of global warming, but it was intended to be strengthened periodically—and since Trump announced his intention to pull the U.S. out of the agreement in June 2017, the leadership that was so crucial to the initial negotiations has been absent. The next deadline for more aggressive climate targets arrives at the end of 2020. Thus, Light said, “2020 has got to be an inflection point for the world.”
Michael Mann, a distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State, feels likewise. “Another four years of Trump would probably render futile any efforts to limit planetary warming to 1.5 [degrees Celsius], which is necessary to avert ever-more catastrophic climate-change impacts,” he said in an email. Others think the effort to limit warming to 1.5 degrees is futile no matter the outcome of the election. “[It’s] hard to say four more years of Trump makes impossible something that seems unlikely either way,” Shindell said.
The lifetime of the Paris agreement, signed in a wave of optimism in 2015, has seen the five hottest years ever recorded on Earth, unprecedented wildfires torching towns from California to Australia, record heatwaves baking Europe and India and temperatures briefly bursting beyond 100F (38C) in the Arctic.
These sorts of impacts could be a mere appetizer, scientists warn, given they have been fueled by levels of global heating that are on track to triple, or worse, by the end of the century without drastic remedial action. The faltering global effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions and head off further calamity hinges, in significant part, on whether the US decides to re-enter the fray.
“The choice of Biden or Trump in the White House is huge, not just for the US but for the world generally to deal with climate change,” said [Todd] Stern (the US negotiator at Paris). “If Biden wins, November 4 is a blip, like a bad dream is over. If Trump wins, he seals the deal. The US becomes a non-player and the goals of Paris become very, very difficult. Without the US in the long term, they certainly aren’t realistic.”
The US government in practice abandoned any concern over the climate crisis some time ago, with the Trump administration so far rolling back more than 100 environmental protections, including an Obama-era plan to curb emissions from coal-fired power plants, limits on pollution emitted from cars and trucks and even energy efficiency standards for lightbulbs. In an often chaotic presidency, Trump’s position on climate change has been unusually consistent – American fossil fuel production must be bolstered, restrictive climate regulations must be scrapped.
Unswayed by growing alarm among Americans over the climate crisis, Trump is taking this same message to the election. “Biden wants to massively re-regulate the energy economy, rejoin the Paris climate accord, which would kill our energy totally, you would have to close 25% of your businesses and kill oil and gas development,” the president said this month, without citing evidence, as he announced another rollback, this time of environmental assessments of pipelines, highways and other infrastructure.
It's simple. Americans go to the polls on November 3. The following day, November 4, the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement comes into effect. If Trump wins and America withdraws, other countries will follow in Trump's footsteps.
Maybe the consensus could magically be rebuilt. Maybe in 2024 the next American president can undo the damage. Maybe, maybe not.