Trump: Environmental Realism from an Unlikely Source

Last time around I offered my humble opinion on our new president, presented from a libertarian perspective. To summarize, the opinion of libertarians is generally negative so far but we like the attack on over-regulation. Cautious optimism.

But how will a Trump presidency affect the U.S. and global environment? Likely, very little. And this assessment flies in the face of the prevalent reasoning that assumes government (i.e. a strong EPA) is all that holds back the forces of environmental destruction. This is a big discussion, encompassing a wider realm than Donal J. Trump and the EPA.

The big story in the ecology of North America right now is one of immense recovery. If we are determined forever to compare our lands and waters to the state of “pre-colonial perfection,” than yes, we have a lot of work to do. But it seems more useful to look at the hundred year trend, a more current barometer of ecological success or failure. And on this more realistic timeline, we’re infinitely better off than we were in 1920. Simply in terms of environmental awareness, there’s no comparison between pre-1950’s Americans and today’s citizens. We have far more forest, particularly in the east, and our waters are cleaner. We have far more animals of all descriptions to the point that problems arising from animal over-population are far more common than problems related to extirpation.

But most citizens would never realize this. It just doesn’t serve the purposes of our media or government to broadcast the optimistic assessment that should be so unmistakable in the post-2000 era. The media values sensationalism (baby seals, homeless polar bears, chainsaw footage) and government values power (EPA, Clean Power Plan). There are environmental problems out there but we’ve lost any sense of their realistic proportions or any notion of realistic costs and benefits.

Into this clash of values and shifting of paradigms, Donald Trump has been thrust. He’s not much of an environmental thinker, just not wired that way. He’s a businessman geared toward growth and financial success. Along with this comes a honed sense of value, of costs and benefits. And this is where he senses a problem with the EPA.

We all have some sense of what EPA ostensibly does for America if we can so much as interpret the acronym. But over the 40 years or so of its existence, EPA has suffered from the expansionist tendencies that afflict all bureaucracies: desire to expand beyond the original mandate, unrealistic sense of self-importance and insatiable growth in requested funding. The media and bulk of our politicians are in league with their agenda: it plays well on TV and imbues politicians with an unearned righteousness. But here’s the problem: where does protection of the environment (isn’t that “everything”?) end and how much funding is too much? Well, if you’ve been led to believe that government is all that stands between us and utter deforestation and unmitigated pollution, then certainly no price is too high.

But here’s the thing: the woods and waters are doing great, perpetuating fish and wildlife like almost nowhere else on earth and growing in extent and density year upon year. Changing economics and some basic, sensible regulations have given us this gift. The EPA is ripe for a hard pruning and if we can picture this adjudicating, legislating, regulating leviathan as a very organic, growing beanstalk, than we’re really overdue for a determined Jack, two-headed axe ready to go to work. The earth will be none the worse for it.

The left doesn’t own the environment and a healthy environment is not the gift of government to we the people. The big story of today’s environment pertains to nature itself and its insatiable capacity for growth, healing and adaptation. Why can’t the left celebrate this along with conservatives and libertarians? Donald Trump likely has little true appreciation for these qualities of nature but he can deal appropriately with certain counter-productive human constructs.

Specifically: We’ve all been thoroughly instructed that global warming is the greatest menace to humanity and all living things on our planet. President Trump, or his advisors, recognize that this is certainly not the case. The hyperbole engaged in relentlessly by the media should be a tip off to thinking people of disingenuousness, of double motives. Funny how anthropogenic global warming mitigation fits so neatly with all the things the left has always wanted to accomplish: a diminishing of the U.S. in world dominance, an unparalleled global redistribution of wealth, elimination of fossil fuels, and, of course, more power for themselves. The push for acceptance of the faux “consensus” should be another tip-off of disingenuity. Those of us with reservations about the full theory, from proof to potential mitigation are said to be enemies of science itself which seems funny when faced with a theory whose trajectory has much more closely tracked that of politics, or pop culture phenomena, or even faith. Particularly faith; the religiosity of this cult is hard to mistake. Even Donald Trump can see this.

And if we survive (somehow) the warming of the globe, then surely we will die of fracking. In how many schools are children taught that the natural gas from deep shale has caused great reduction in emissions of more serious greenhouse gasses? This too, is a debacle in the realm of politics and human power struggles. The earth isn’t worried. Trump isn’t worried either. Because this is a political matter, almost no ecologists are seriously working to quantify the benefits of unconventional shale gas extraction. If anyone was, their work would never see the light of day in today’s dominant media. The panic over Trump derives from the sudden loss of power from a group who’ve long felt entitled to wield it.

Because the EPA has arrogated such power and self-importance, I value Trump in the realm of the environment perhaps more than anywhere else. Bureaucratic expansion needs to be fought wherever it’s found. But especially in the realm of the environment, simply because it’s a lie that a healthy world comes from government. Disingenuous environmentalism is sickening to those of us who really do care about nature for nature’s sake.

There’s so much to celebrate in the natural world. Do we need to hear only the voices of doom and decay?

 

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