Posted by: ericgrimsrud | November 18, 2020

The environmental scene without Trump

Fortunately, I can now use the above title for an article concerning our immediate future.  If Trump had been given another term, our environment would certainly have been badly damaged even more than it already is.  So, with President Trump soon to be escorted (or literally dragged) out of the White House, what improvements in our environment can we expect to see as a new democratic administration comes on board?

First, with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is already clear that the new Democratic administration will put a much higher priority on combating this pandemic by providing far greater financial and moral support to both the heath-care professionals and the victims of this plague. With potential vaccines now coming on board, the possibility looms that we might see a turn-around and even an eradication of this disease within the next year.  Only time will tell when and what happens in this battle, but we are at least now making the efforts that a scientifically advanced country such as ours should have been making since the very first appearance of this dangerous virus.

Next, with respect to the relentless warming of our planet by our continuous addition of greenhouse gases (CO2, in particular) to our atmosphere, any changes expected to accompany the new Democratic administration are much more difficult to predict. This is primarily because the fossil fuel lobby is so incredibly well-entrenched in both the USA and abroad, that their war chest and resulting death grips on all corners and niches of the world make this battle very difficult to win. Did you notice, for example, that in the recent presidential election that Joe Biden’s side did not clearly say that one of their ultimate goals would be to eliminate the use of all fossil fuels and emissions of CO2 by some specific time in the future. They simply said that they were concerned about global warming and would endeavor to find solutions to it – without including relevant details.

So yes, in the next few years we have reason to hope that many important aspects of our lives will be improved by the replacement of the Donald and his cowardly set of Republican facilitators.  These aspects will certainly include civil rights, health care, our economy and virus protection, but probably not so much improvement in the fight against climate change, a problem that is far more difficult to address. Hopefully, by the next election cycle, we will finally be in a position to do much more to face the central cause of climate change; that is, the amount of greenhouse gases we continue to accumulate in our atmosphere.

So, what more could Biden do now to significantly help out in the fight against climate change?  Turns out, there is a litmus test for examining the depths of one’s claims to be fighting climate change and neither the Republicans (of course) nor the Democrats have passed this test so far.  That litmus test is to favor a strong fee for the production and use of fossil fuels. The rationale for a Carbon Fee of this sort is that it would provide a charge for use of our atmosphere as a garbage dump for the disposal of the carbon dioxide. We should start that program immediately with the intention of continuously raising those fees in the future so that the alternate renewable forms of energy production become competitive with fossil fuel use as soon as possible. Our attempts to save our planet from overheating cannot happen until that change is made. To continue to use our atmosphere as a free of charge dumping ground for CO2 is sure to prove to be suicidal for most forms of life presently on this planet. Mass extinctions of this sort have occurred before on Earth due to abrupt changes in atmospheric CO2 and, in case you haven’t heard, our atmosphere already contains almost 50% more CO2 than the natural level it had prior to the Industrial Revolution.


  1. Without nuclear technology, fossil fuels won’t be eliminated. Does anyone really think by the year 2050, we’ll be heating our homes and power our cars with electricity from solar panels and wind turbines? Your article doesn’t mention nuclear energy nor do maybe half the Democrats. Republicans will work with Democrats but not in fantasy land. Got to get real. Sweden and France do it right. U.S. is hopeless. Probably won’t make much difference here with Trump or Biden. Got to get serious about nuclear power now, and not later. Carbon tax is fine but what’s the plan? Invest in “nuables” — that’s nuclear technology and renewables. Read “A Bright Future — How Some Countries have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow” by Joshua S Goldstein and Staffan A. Qvist.

  2. Dave, I agree totally about the need for increased nuclear power right now and in the future. However, if we expect that to occur, we have to eliminate the reason for why new nuclear projects have been abandoned – which is their investors saw that they could not compete with fossil fuel fired power plants. Therefore, we need to apply a carbon tax to those fossil fuel power plant in order to level the playing field so that your suggestion can come true. EPG

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