President Donald Trump’s recent spate of position reversals — on China, Russia, NATO and even Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen — has some Americans, particularly his hard-core supporters, nervous and most others delighted.
Flip-flopping, if that’s what’s going on, isn’t especially admirable, but there’s a lot to be said for seeing the world as it really is.
If the latter is what’s driving President Trump’s thinking these days, we hope he doesn’t stop until he reconsiders his positions on climate change and energy policy.
He wouldn’t even need to say Barack Obama was right, or even partially right, about something. He only needs to ask himself whether reversing the rule that kept coal mines from dumping their waste into local streams is really going to bring back coal jobs. Or if the air quality in Shanghai is something the United States wants to emulate. Or whether more violent storms, greater heat waves, more severe and more widespread droughts, melting polar icepacks and the migration of diseases are good or bad for America or for the world.
He seems to believe that those phenomena, some of which are already occurring, are just part of a grand hoax by the overwhelming majority of the scientific community. In fact, they’re alarmed not just by what humans are doing to their planet but by the inability of the human who leads the most powerful nation on earth to grasp what’s happening.
President Trump issued an order last month that elated folks who don’t believe climate change is real or that there’s a price to pay to extend indefinitely our nation’s reliance on the fossil fuels that are fouling our atmosphere.
In the name of job creation and national security, President Trump’s order targeted President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, whose goals included cutting power plant emissions by about one-third below 2005 levels. President Trump also voided a moratorium on coal mining on federal land. And he made clear his displeasure with the latest fuel standards for automobiles and wants to cut back support for alternative energy development. He is convinced that these changes will save or create jobs, though even coal industry experts doubt his actions will boost mining employment.
As troubling as the president’s actions were, they needn’t be permanent. If can decide one day that NATO is “no longer obsolete,” he can, if exposed to the truth about climate change, realize that it is a greater threat to the United States than a slumping coal industry, and that emissions regulations for power plants are part of the solution, not the problem.