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Trump Channels Nero

Donald Trump is doing everything in his considerable power to insure a future of rising oceans, dirty unbreathable air, more drought in some places, far larger and hotter and deadlier forest fires, more devastating storms—hurricanes, tornadoes—and all the increased flooding, demolished homes, destruction and death that comes with it all. Nero fiddled while Rome burned and Trump tweets while America roasts.

Pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords now means the world shakes it head in disgust at the lack of US conscience, morals, values, common sense and basic decency. That singularly stupid move will cost the US jobs, cooperation, and good faith from all erstwhile international partners.

Reversing Obama’s modest Clean Power order will gain US workers no net jobs—rather, it is a foolish pandering to those who yearn for the dirty old days of black lung disease, mine collapse, gooey acidic deposition on everything in coal mining towns, and rancid air unfit for anyone.

Meanwhile, the massive numbers of new jobs that we could be creating in solar, wind, new energy storage capacity, and all the attendant spinoff businesses will go to Germany, China, and more clever countries as we slide down to stupid. Until now, the sunny progressive states have added many new solar jobs while automation (not Obama regulation) has slashed coal jobs since 2012.

Hey, I try to think positively, but when I hear Trump-appointed US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry deny that all the anthropogenic fossil fuel we burn—coal being the dirtiest by far—has nothing to do with climate chaos, I am positive the ship of state is a ship of fools. He blames the oceans. Really, Rickets? And how did the oceans heat up?

Naomi Klein, in the best Gandhian tradition, advises us to not only stand against harmful practices and policies, but to practice and promote the helpful. In that spirit, please allow me to offer a shout out to the governors, mayors, and business people who are stepping up right now with smart, effective, cost-saving, healthy, safe, and sustainable alternatives. Even pockets of the US military—the single greatest consumer of fossil fuels on Earth—are attempting to “go green.” We will resist the dirty and we will produce the clean. We will conserve and some of us will offer nonviolent resistance to the oil coal fracking nuclear attack on our children and grandchildren by short-sighted profiteers.

Our descendants will thank us and curse the greedy grabber polluters.

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Tom H. Hastings is core faculty in the Conflict Resolution Department at Portland State University and founding director of PeaceVoice

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