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# Dark days ahead - rise above despair

This is a blog post - but it fits in this politics and society category. It starts out with this;
My first reaction on hearing of Donald Trump's probably victory was an emotional jolt, accompanied by the physical sensation of nausea. This is despite the fact that I was partly prepared. I was at a meeting in a tiny town in rural New South Wales, with a number of other people from various walks of life.

Internet reception was patchy (very poor Optus coverage) and I had to take the laptop outside to learn what was happening. When I came back to the meeting and told everyone that Trump was the likely next US President, people were shocked and dismayed. There were comments about Nazi Germany, melting away of life savings, and concerns about how the Putin-Trump relationship would adversely affect global stability, particularly in regard to China. (Australia's security and place in the world is now under threat, and we will need to adapt and find new allies.)

• Reading the realist blog roll I found only Greg laden to have an interesting and positive post.

Trump is not as far right as his supporters suggest. Historically he has been more aligned with liberal ideals than conservatives. There is nothing to suggest he allows loyalty to influence his actions. His presidency will not be the end of the future It will be just another bump in the road . After sitting out the pause meme for years waiting for the trend to reassert though the noise four years of trump is not that daunting from my realist standpoint.
• Nice job by Greg.
• I hope you're right about a "bump in the road". I see it as much more than that, despite the fact that some of Trump's worst excesses could be undermined by good people. I used to think Reagan was damaging. The worst he did pales by comparison with the harm that Trump could cause. (Yes, there will be some resistance - I'm thinking a bit like the French Resistance in the light of WWII. World wars are catastrophic in their impact, while resistance might dampen the worst.)

As far as climate goes, it may be much more than a bump. If Trump succeeds in replacing renewables with coal and oil, pulling out of the Paris agreement etc, it might not just affect the pace of global warming, it may also affect the balance of global power.

Read this worrying take from Chris Mooney.

I would rather overestimate the harm that Trump could do than underestimate it, and later find that it's too late to do anything about it.
• The Donald & the Republicans can do a great deal of damage, but it's limited to certain areas. His promises with regard to revitalising the coal industry are almost hilariiously absurd. It's been losing jobs since the 1980s, related initially to automation & other factors. Since the fracked gas boom, it's been losing to the MARKET because gas is cleaner & cheaper. Renewables are also squeezing coal from the "other direction".

The Repubs have an almost religious devotion to what they call the "free" market (though they LOVE to distort it for the benefit of their fossil fuel funders & other benefactors). The Donald can increase leasing on federal lands for all kinds of fossil fuels, but Obama has already been doing a lot of that. The Donald can't magically make coal profitable when it just isn't. When fracked gas replaces coal, CO2 emissions are cut. The problem with fracked gas would be lack of vigourous enforcement of rules prohibiting methane leaks, of which there are jillions (a technical term) that need to be fixed.

The other thing is that several large states, including California & New York, have already been instituting lower carbon measures. IIRC, they colletively represent ~30% of US emissions. These states are firmly under Democratic control, so The Donald & the Repubs can't impede progress there.

Solar & other renewables are, or soon will be, winning on price anyway. It's possible, though, that Repubs at the state level who are in the back pockets of the Koch brothers & other fossil fuel interests will try to write laws & regulations to slow the progress of solar & wind. This is already happening in several states. In those cases, there'll be a friendly administration in Washington that will support them. But people don't like the government (or the Koch brothers) telling them they can't use sunlight falling on their roofs, so in several states there are "green tea parties" where left wingers & right wingers work together to repeal anti-solar laws.

The Donald has been on multiple sides of multiple issues over the years, & he's never held public office, so it's unclear what he'll do. He's said ACC is a "hoax created by the Chinese" until he needs government help to protect his properties, as in Scotland & Florida. Then he talks about worsening storms & rising sea level due to climate change & wants government help with sea walls & pumps.

There will probably be long-term reputational damage to the US as China assumes more & more leadership on this issue. The rest of the world will keep moving. However, the Repubs may eventually realise that they can't see the future in the rear view mirror. We'll have a chance to reverse the travesty in 2020. Unfortunatly, the odds of avoiding dangerous ACC continue to decline, & the odds that only a major mobilisation will save us keep rising.
• edited November 2016
I would rather overestimate the harm that Trump could do than underestimate it, and later find that it's too late to do anything about it.

Unfortunately, my fellow lazy ass coddled "liberal" "progressive" Americans can't take anything seriously anymore.  The Earth has the depth of a post card for them and world happenings are about as real as the last triller blockbuster they've watched.  Nah, now they are just going to bitch about how rigged the system is - while the obsessed holy warriors will keep on barreling through with their absolutist agenda and hatred for all who don't fall into line with their petty self-centered obsessions.

I'm horrified imagining what's going to be happening on and in our public lands - (that they have decreed are illegal entities and that no one seems to be able to defend yet.) - these fools want the lands to revert to "the people" - little do the sheople realize they are pawns of mega rich manipulators of their fears and angers.  My tiny comfort is that Colorado seems a little bit of an exception and a bit of an oasis, but we'll see how long that lasts.

• "...they are pawns of mega rich manipulators of their fears and angers."

True. Just yesterday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was feeding the psychotic delusions of supporters of The Donald by pretending (& saying out loud) that the coal industry could recover & miners could get their jobs back. The delusion that "Obama's War on Coal" is the reason the industry is in decline is common among Republicans. The Clean Power Plan wasn't set to even start until 2017, & multiple states had already opposed it in court. Manipulation galore. Reality will come back to bite these people in the @.

The federal government has owned a lot of the land in the west since the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 & the end of the Mexican America War in 1848. It never belonged to the states, so "returning" it to them, or "the people", is yet another lie. Making changes could do a lot of damage, but there's only so much the land can do. The entire Colorado River Basin is in drought & getting drier with ACC. This won't stop because of an election.

The Democrats suffered a major defeat but aren't on the ropes quite yet. They've won the popular vote in 6 of the last 7 presidential elections, & only the vagaries of the Electoral College delivered elections to Repubs GW Bush & The Donald. Hillary is winning the popular vote by the largest vote-margin ever for an election loser.

After the 1st Obama election, the Democrats held the presidency, the House & the Senate; briefly, after the Al Franken recount & before Ted Kennedy died (after which the Repub Scott Brown won the special election), they had (at least in theory) a filibuster-proof 60 votes. The Repubs didn't retreat; they met 2009 Jan 20th (inauguration day) & decided to oppose (in a unified way) EVERYTHING Obama proposed. Then they made a major effort at the state level in 2010 so they could further gerrymander congressional districts following the census. It worked. The Democrats just need to do something similar & coordinate their efforts, pointing especially toward 2020.

The problem is that ACC will keep progressing during the time it takes to do these things. The Republicans' ideological delusions don't change the laws of physics & won't stop warming.
• Tuesday night was a sleepless night, filled with horror and dread. Wednesday morning ... but by the afternoon the earth was still spinning on its axis, and I thought, well, here it comes but for now maybe I should stop writing so much and get back to more painting in the studio, while I can. Maybe things will be OK after all. The world can't fall apart this easily. For a couple of days I've been able to stave off the terrible truth, but as Trump rolls out his plans, the people he's chosen are - let's not pretend it's OK - monsters. Today somebody checked Trump's body language during his meeting with Obama, and his sly look at the cameras during his handshake with Obama was typical of a conscienceless less than human con artist who knows camera and TV.

We cannot fool ourselves, this is monstrous. It will take a few years before his followers realize he is not a hero and is in it only for himself, making their plight worse. Meanwhile he can start some wars: that always works in the short term. Consider history! Europe is in danger, real danger.

Lately the climate evidence is such that I wonder at what point I will not be able to do my usual things, because it's breaking down. I'm a Sandy survivor - keeping my parents alive in New Jersey - and even a layperson can understand the basics of the simple laws of physics involved in heat trapping greenhouse gases. I don't think any of us are prepared

Al Gore, after an Inconvenient Truth, came out with a truthful useful book, The Assault on Reason, which I've just reordered because I've lost my copy. Among other things, he talks about TV. We have abdicated our relationship with reality and the creativity of entertaining ourselves and our children.

The embrace of passive 2D as real, and the isolation of knowledge available with social media, combined with the predations described in Jane Mayer's Dark Money, are bringing us to the brink of situations hitherto unthinkable. The human family needs to wake up and stop trying to avoid responsibility by balming other pepoel.
• "It will take a few years before his followers realize he is not a hero and is in it only for himself, making their plight worse."

Susan,
I agree with most of your post, but I'm not sure it'll take that long for people to realise what a con man he is. The Donald has been on multiple sides of multiple issues over the years, so we really don't know for sure what he'll do. Time will tell.

An infrastructure program might help some of his supporters, & of course, now that Obama is out of office, Congressional Repubs (who always MUCH preferred damaging the US & the rest of the world to giving Obama any sort of political victory) will suddenly find the money to fund it. But The Donald's main stated economic policy is just more tax cuts for the rich, super-duper trickle-down. Hillary was exactly right to call it "trumped-up" trickle-down. Anyone who thinks this will help his working class supporters needs a tin foil hat adjustment.

The psychotic delusion that the coal industry can be revitalized appears to be quite common among Repubs. They blame "Obama's war on coal" for this decline even though the Clean Power Plan wasn't even set to begin until 2017. Blaming Obama for coal's decline would be like Poland blaming the Wehrmacht for the destruction of the country before the invasion even began on 1939 Sep 1.

The coal industry has been in decline for decades because of the MARKET. (I assume you'd agree with this?) The M.A.R.K.E.T. Automation, the narrowing of Appalachian coal seams, & decades-old environmental laws are important. Mountain top removal takes more dynamite & bulldozers, but fewer people. Then over the past decade, coal has been losing out to cheaper, cleaner (well, except for the high methane leakage rate with fracking) natural gas. The Chinese have also decided to stop looking for the future in the rear-view mirror, & are burning less coal. These things assure coal's ongoing decline.

I could be wrong, but I don't believe it'll take a full 4 years for The Donald's working class supporters to realise that he's conning them. They have high expectations, & these will quickly be dashed.

• He gets into the need to preserve the data now.  I’m praying a lot is going on I’m unaware of.

Scientists Race To Preserve Climate Change Data Before Trump Takes Office

December 14, 20164:30 PM ET

Heard on All Things Considered

http://www.npr.org/2016/12/14/505592206/scientists-race-to-preserve-climate-change-data-before-trump-takes-office

NPR's Audie Cornish talks with meteorologist Eric Holthaus about the race to preserve U.S. climate data before the Trump administration, and the fear that the new administration will erase the work of climate change researchers.

___________________________________

Environmentalists Brace For Scott Pruitt To Take Over EPA

December 14, 20164:30 PM ET

Heard on All Things Considered

http://www.npr.org/2016/12/14/505592195/environmentalists-brace-for-scott-pruitt-to-take-over-epa

What will an anti-regulation, climate skeptic do as head of the Environmental Protection Agency? Environmentalists are bracing. But Scott Pruitt will also face limits if he tries to strip the agency of its power.

• India is starting to cut back on coal & push renewables. They're already reducing coal imports. New coal plants will replace older, less efficient plants.

http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/12/16/india-to-halt-building-new-coal-plants-in-2022/

They say this bodes ill for Australia's Carmichael mega-mine, which was planned to supply India's power needs.
• Sou, you would let us know if there's some interesting new initiative going on in the US or other places?  (Re confronting right wing, oligarch take over.)
• edited December 2016
CC,
I found an article today about the social cost of carbon. The Obama administration has been using US\$36/ton (not sure if that's metric or avoirdupois; I suspect the latter). The venal, duplicitous ACC deniers The Donald is bringing in want to reduce it (sorry, I've been calling him The Donald since I read in 1989 that Ivaná called him that), & also to change the discount rate. (BTW, his other names include tRump, Trumpelthinskin, Drumpf, etc.)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/12/22/the-coming-battle-between-the-trump-team-and-economists-over-the-true-cost-of-climate-change/?utm_term=.cdf95f90d224

If climate scientists argued for a higher SCC, Donald's deniers might be able to ignore them & (breaking the irony meter) accuse them of being ideological. The trouble is that economists are now arguing for a higher number, & the deniers have a bit more trouble ignoring economists. What might really get under their skin would be if the truly "smart" money, the re-insurance analysts at Lloyd's of London, Munich Re, Swiss Re et al, came out for a higher number. They'd still try very hard to ignore it, but it'd be more difficult. Fingers crossed.

• edited January 2017
Oh yeah they try very hard to ignore it.

The despair at the general apathy and unaware can get overwhelming.
Past two months were rough on me.  You know being in that moment of opportunity when big things are possible, but once again watching time and tide, while the general apathy continues and I'm stuck in this molasses.  The DNC are fools and as clueless as ever, I say this in light of tonights ridiculous repetitive donation come-on emails - devoid of any informative or provocative ideas.  These current jerks can't think themselves out of a wet paper bag.

So it is finished. I actually tossed in the tossed in the towel a good week before the fateful Jan 3rd.  Had to, a human can only sustain a chronic anxiety attack for so long, bizarre I'm a heathy guy, but it physically slapped me around.  Also life doing every f'n thing it can to keep me from writing time isn't helping my general attitude.  Still on the good side, for anyone who might remember my mention of Bell's Palsy couple weeks after the election, I'm happy to report after a couple rounds of steroids, it's run it's course and I'm fit as a fiddle again, with renewed appreciation for our body's wonders and the blessing of good health.

Now all we need to do is deal with the future.  It's going to be rough, just seeing the first days of the "lamb duck" Republican Congressional Session, holy shit, I keep hearing reassuring squeaks from liberal types - but I'm not too ...

So I'm back to debating contrarian types, although this time I've got me a real live one.  With some ethics and a need to explain himself.  It's wonderful in that it's void of that hostile edge* and I'm truly trying to explain.

* yeah, that one ain't mine to judge.