I was asked by a think tank I contribute to occasionally to weigh in briefly on the significance of the election in respect to my area of expertise which I generally consider to be the ecology of the northeast and particularly coldwater fish. It wasn’t easy – I don’t think the trout of New Hampshire will notice their new head of state come January 20 (the trout of New Hampshire are Libertarians anyway). And by midnight or so last night, it became apparent that the question was really, “will the environment be better or worse for Trump’s ascendance?”
The knee-jerk response of our media is to assume that Trump is a friend of industry and greedy capitalists and, therefore, no friend of the environment. It’s the underlying proposition here that we have to question first, namely, that capitalism has been bad for the environment. There’s much evidence to suggest that it hasn’t and I’m certainly a subscriber to the view that capitalism has done much to preserve the American environment, unpopular as this view may be in the current climate. The evidence is all around us, in the form of wild green spaces, public and private, that characterize the verdant American landscape. And the problem with our 21st century American environmental paradigm has more to do with our media and associated political interests who stand to gain much by publicizing only environmental degradation wherever they can find it. Does anyone really doubt this is the case?
My wish is that we can learn to celebrate the resilience of the biome we find ourselves in and not to exclude the possibility of vibrant capitalism co-existing with a vibrant biosphere. Spend more time out with the broad eastern mountain forests and clear brooks and less time looking for environmental opinions from the television and internet commentariat.
Those wild open spaces are available to us because we are a rich nation; we don’t have to scrape the earth to the bare rock for subsistence because we are prosperous. We are able to innovate here too, developing technologies that save trees, water and wildlife. The good that’s done for all of us by capitalism can’t be dismissed lightly.
That being said, here’s my short reply to the Heartland Institute which actually runs in other directions:
Trump’s environmental impact will come more from what he won’t do than what he will. This fits neatly with his role in the Republican Party and even the liberty movement as a heavy, blunt object with which to pummel both the left and the Republican establishment. Trump will never be known as savior of imperiled trout populations, defender of wetlands or as the “T. Roosevelt of our day,” but he will say “no” to bureaucratic totalitarianism in the guise of environmental protection.
“Totalitarianism in the guise of environmental protection,” stems foremost today from the EPA and particularly from late movement toward the regulation of carbon in response to the ever-spurious global warming lobby. Obama, from the time of his 2008 ascendance, joined the United States for two terms to bad science, accepting the global warming orthodoxy of the U.N. as a personal call to action, his country in tow. Hillary would scale up the work of putting Americans out of work and Brussels in control – her direction is predictable. We don’t know a lot about Donald Trump’s ruminations on the environment (probably just as well) but we do know that among his campaign promises came a vow to stop sending billions of U.S. dollars to the U.N. for global warming abatement. As a business executive, he knows when he’s being conned.
The defense of sound science and well-reasoned environmental policy may derive from an unlikely source, post – January 2017 or, at the very least, we’ll all find ourselves conned a lot less often.