It hard to believe that a nation which has built the most formidable military industrial complex on the planet can put a man like Trump in charge of it. His campaign unashamedly replaced the higher ideals that America once stood for and which politicians once campaigned for with a wilful ignorance of global issues which are now reaching their nadir. His most egregious lie is on climate change which is the ultimate crisis facing humanity and life on earth and which in all certainty will make a mockery of his “Make America great again” slogan.
However, his election highlights a critical dilemma.
The current political strategy to tackle climate change relies entirely on delivering a zero carbon economy when energy demand per capita and global competition are both increasing as a consequence of the ecological ceiling falling down.
To get the global zero carbon economy needed requires a total constriction on personal liberties and the rights to exploit opportunity. Yet, to apply these restrictions is to reverse one of the key principles of Western democracies; that is the ability to exploit opportunity and to allow personal liberties. Those nations that have allowed these things have been most the successful economically and militarily.
Thus by addressing climate change through a mandatory zero carbon economy, livelihoods will be destroyed. However, by not addressing it livelihoods will also be destroyed. In either case the result will be the same; people will be driven by desperation to hear what they want to hear and society will split. In the absence of solutions to this dilemma then Trump’s genius has been to tell a near majority exactly what they want to hear, even when it is diametrically opposed to the truth that everybody can see.
Thus, it was to those whose jobs and livelihoods depend on the status quo to continue, that he told climate change was a hoax. By contrast, those that see climate change is destroying them, are left with only with the weak and false argument that the world can seamlessly transition to a zero carbon economy in the time left and thereby fail to provide an intellectual rigour to oppose the Trump machine.
It is upon this division that the US has become the cleft nation that Samuel Huntington warned about in his controversial book, The Clash of Civilisations. But it is climate change, not religious or ethnic divisions that is the dividing mechanism and as it gets worse the current strategy will force the fault lines to open wider.
Trump’s election success and his position on climate change is the antithesis of the ideals of the philanthropic foundations that America is famous for such as the MacArthur Foundation 100&Change competition. As such, the onus on the judges in this competition must be to counter this election result with an award that goes to an urgent climate solution that can minimise the resulting international competition, provide time and hope and offer a genuine working solution.
It is impossible to overstate the responsibility lying on the shoulders of the judges in the wake of this result. If there is silver lining, it is that Trump's election provides an early warning that false-hope can no longer be peddled as a solution to the catastrophic crises we face.