President Trump appears to be on the verge of becoming a “big loser” – something he was not at all used to being when operating within the business world. As the leader of our democratic republic, however, he appears to be in way over his head. While his pandering skills were sufficient to get a gullible portion of the general public to vote for him, they do not appear to be appropriate for running our government. He is now providing us with clear examples of this almost on a daily basis. In addition, it is becoming clear that Trump does not really care very much about any of the issues he decides to either embrace or attack. He simply wants to be perceived to be “the boss” who can arrange “big deals” of any kind. Thus, he now appears to be looking for a new “band wagon” he can join in the hopes that this will result in “successes” he can claim as his own.
The latest examples of this revolve around environmental issues where one can easilly find powerful, if unscrupulous, violators of environmental regulations who are always in need of close friends in Washington. Up to this point, he has shored up many friendships in this area even if, in doing so, he has had go against the science concerning them. President Trump has now even gone the full ten yards in that direction by promoting the further development and use of the most problematic of all forms of fossil fuels, coal. While there is no doubt that he will, indeed, find very desperate “friends” in that industry, his offer of their salvation is little more than another con job. A return to the coal age will not happen for a long list of reasons as related below.
For starters, the combustion of coal provides only about half of the energy per CO2 molecule produced relative to that provided by the combustion of either gas or oil. That is, its effect on greenhouse gas warming is twice as bad as that of gas and oil. In addition, the combustion of coal also results in the emission of several primary pollutants, including sulfur dioxide, mercury, and variety of toxic metals. And note, also, that the often-used term, “clean coal”, is no more than a phony construct suggesting that the CO2 emitted by power plants will be removed and put back into the geosphere. Carbon capture and sequestration is a technology that has been demonstrated only on a very small scale and will never become financially feasible on the massive levels required. And finally, the abundant supplies of gas and oil now being produced by fracking technologies have provided inexpensive and cleaner forms of fossil fuels for use in fossil-fuel-driven-power plants. Coal is no longer needed in that industry.
In spite of all of the above, President Trump is doing his best to develop friendships within this needy segment of society by irresponsible pandering to them. While Hillary Clinton went to West Virginia to encourage its citizens to diversify their economic base beyond coal production, Trump is encouraging them to remain focused on the mining of their coal. Just as he has already abandoned the “repeal Obamacare” bandwagon, he will surely also prove to be ineffective in bringing back the outdated era of coal. Trump’s only objective here is to fool some gullible and needy people into helping him extend his pointless presidency. One can only hope that as Trump goes forward and gets hammered by the realities of climate change, he will eventually see the benefit to himself of jumping onto a far better bandwagon.
This seemingly illogical thought has some merit – as I explained in one my previous posts entitled “An up-side to a Trump presidency” (see archives, March 2016) about one year ago. That post was placed prior to the presidential election of November of 2016 and included the following statement:
“Of all of the Republican candidates, it is most difficult to guess what Trump would do about climate change if elected. This is partially because the leadership of GOP has been AWOL on this topic over the last two decades and has put no pressure on its candidates to take the issue seriously. And even if the GOP had recommended some specific actions or non-actions on climate change, it is unlikely that Donald Trump would pay much attention to them. The Donald has found great success in being a very loose cannon within the GOP and to the consternation of his party’s leaders has shown that he can take whatever view he wishes on all topics. In short, the Donald has become bigger than the GOP itself. Concerning the single issue of climate change, this could be a good thing since the GOP has done its very best to obstruct all actions concerning it.”
By making this imagined 180 degree change and becoming our leader in the implementation of corrective action against climate change, President Trump could thereby become known as the “Savior of the Planet” and position himself for receipt of the world-wide accolades that might then follow. What outcome could better suit his need for praise and admiration? I suspect that he really does not want to become the new “King of Coal” and thereby add to his legacy as a “loser”. I could imagine (and hope) that President Trump will continue to cut any tries he still has to his political party and eventually see that he has a far better chance of achieving widespread acclaim by joining the grown-ups of the world. This has happened before, you know, when Richard Nixon went to China, for example. Fortunately, the motives behind politicians’ actions are less important than their consequences.