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Letter to the editor: How Donald Trump Could Have Saved Humanity (and still can)

"Donald Trump could have saved humanity from the brink of extinction, with just one belief in one piece of science! "
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I’ve been studying climate change pretty intensely for the past five years as part of my volunteer efforts with Citizens’ Climate Lobby.  I’ve gone to conferences, listened to podcasts, read books and science papers, watched interviews, and taken courses on addressing climate denial.  I’ve lobbied Republican and Democratic members of congress, local city councils, and corporation commissions to take action on climate change. Others I know have been doing this for much longer than five years, some their entire lifetime. 

Sure there has been good progress; there is more renewable energy now than ever and it’s mostly less expensive than fossil fuels and becoming even less expensive. But we need more than good progress now, we need progress on a massive scale and quickly (putting a price on carbon would help). But it’s not happening, and probably won’t. 

Why? 

There are many reasons, but one big reason is that older (and some younger), conservative voters and politicians refuse to take any action. Why? Again, many reasons, including the decades-long disinformation war funded by the fossil fuel interests.  But it’s also because the issue has become a tribal issue. 

If you want to be part of the progressive tribe, you need to believe it’s real and that action must be taken.  If you want to be part of the conservative tribe then it might be best to hold off on doing anything right now and keep burning coal, oil, and natural gas because “it’s all better for the economy.”  

To address this tribal issue, try to imagine that Donald Trump had decided, a year into his (first, real) presidency, that he was going to believe the climate science (I know it’s hard, but try). 

His tribe may have fought back a little.  And maybe the fossil fuel interests would have made some noise. But even if he had convinced just half of his tribe that this was the existential issue of our time and that action had to be taken, imagine what could have taken place! 

He may have even gotten the progressive media to get off his back and praise him just a bit (I know that’s even harder to imagine but try). He may really have won the 2020 election even with all the nonexistent fraud.  

We’d already have an electric vehicle charging infrastructure in place by now, along with more EVs on the road. There would be more wind turbines and solar panels powering our energy grid. The construction and agricultural industries would be well on their way to using sustainable methods. The world would have taken notice and started doing the same on a larger scale. 

Donald Trump could have saved humanity from the brink of extinction, with just one belief in one piece of science! 

Mr. Trump, it’s not too late. You still have many followers. Read a paper or two on climate science and change your stance. Can you imagine winning the 2024 presidential election by getting not only your tribal votes, but even a few from (gasp!) Democratic voters?  Come on Donald, do the right thing!

Although I write this a bit tongue in cheek,  the truth is that a great way to convince climate change doubters is to show them that someone they trust believes the science. 

Google the Bob Inglis NPR interview from last December titled "How I Changed My Mind About Climate Change."  He was a conservative South Carolina US Representative and a climate denier. He changed his stance when his 18-year-old son said he wouldn't get his vote until he changed his stance on the issue. 

If you know a climate doubter or denier, talk to them about it. Find some common ground.  Be respectful.  Maybe something amazing will happen. 

Michael Clinton
Longmont, Colorado