Should Donald Trump be regarded as a hero of the environmentalist and anti-climate change movement?

We were at a friend’s house for dinner the other night. The hosts are both medical doctors and were hugely enriched by the Federal government’s expansion of funding for the health care industry during the Obama Administration. Lately they’ve been hugely enriched by the booming economy (at least here in pharma- and health-care-heavy Massachusetts) and stock market.

As per usual for Massachusetts, however, they are forecasting imminent doom for both the country and the planet due to Donald Trump’s existence. When I asked “What have you personally suffered as a result of Donald Trump being in the White House?” the answer is that it is not legitimate to think of one’s own welfare. They are especially virtuous because they are thinking on a planetary scale and are virtuously concerned with all of humanity, not merely their thriving personal finances and situation. Two particular knocks against Trump is that he is relaxing environmental regulations so that our local atmosphere will be polluted and that he will be responsible for a planetary-scale meltdown of climate change, e.g., due to withdrawing from the Paris Agreement.

Yet Wikipedia says that the entire machinery of the Paris agreement was hoping to “mobilize $100 billion per year … by 2020” (and in terms of reality, about $10 billion total was actually contributed over a period of years). The economic boom from Donald Trump’s corporate tax rate cut has expanded the U.S. economy by more than $10 billion a week. Perhaps the hated Trump won’t work with the hated Republicans in Congress to spend this new wealth on combatting climate change, but the next President (a virtuous Democrat?) will have that opportunity.

If fighting the increase in atmospheric CO2 is a long-term problem, having been built up for the past few hundred years, what’s wrong with accumulating wealth now and spending it once Donald Trump has hopped on his personal Boeing 757 for the trip out of D.C. and back to private citizenship? Since Trump has been much more successful in generating economic growth than previous presidents (Obama did have a dead cat bounce off the Collapse of 2008), if we assume that a wealthier country has more flexibility in terms of what it can do to combat climate change, should Donald Trump actually considered be the hero of the environmentalist hour?

[Analogy: Lyndon Johnson was able to pursue both the Great Society and the Vietnam War only because of 200 years of accumulated wealth. Medicare and Medicaid were created by Johnson and have become the government’s largest spending area. The Great Society also made food stamps permanent and expanded taxpayer-funded housing for Americans on welfare. So the Trump economic boom could in theory pave the way for a future Great CO2 Vacuum. Congress is currently indulging in deficit spending, but the additions to the national debt seem likely to be smaller than the growth (i.e., we’re still paying off debt that Congress accumulated during the Reagan years (they said “yes” to his tax cut proposal, but “no” to his proposed spending cuts), but we’re doing it as a richer country).]

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4 Comments

  1. spl

    September 21, 2018 @ 1:33 pm

    1

    That is an unique perspective! I doubt you will convince your friends though.

    However, they do have one immediate opportunity here: they could send money directly to appropriate foreign governments per the Paris agreement, the same money that Trump didn’t take from them (tax cuts) and didn’t give to foreign governments.

  2. Vince

    September 21, 2018 @ 5:03 pm

    2

    It’s not really reasonable to say that there’s an economic boom going on caused by Trump’s tax cuts. There’s maybe perhaps a quarter percent extra growth compared to the previous few years.

    Also, if you’re going to talk about increased wealth that can be used in the future, you have to consider the nation debt that Trump is piling up, which may have to be addressed at some point.

  3. anon

    September 21, 2018 @ 8:38 pm

    3

    Googling “Trump CO2 emissions 2017” shows that under Trump’s regime, the USA reduced emissions by 0.5% (while EU + China + world increased by 1.5%) without paying billions$ to the Paris Accord slush fund. By that measure, Trump should be cheered by anthropogenic global warming believers.

  4. YZ

    September 25, 2018 @ 4:34 pm

    4

    What CO2 vacuuming technologies do you think are the most interesting?

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