Michael Hoexter, Ph.D.
Becoming President-elect was a grand coup for you, yet, with the path of climate denial and destruction you are headed on as President, you will be personally responsible for some extremely bad, real impacts on all Americans, even on all human beings, making you and them big “losers”. It is no longer a matter of you playing a game for yourself in which you might be a “winner” but it means protecting and taking care of the destinies of all Americans, including your family, by making better decisions in policy and government actions. It means moving from rhetoric in a campaign to real-world consequences that are potentially a HUGE catastrophe for all Americans and for humanity, caused or made immeasurably worse by you personally and your chosen actions.
You do have the chance to do better than Obama on a bunch of different issues and maybe you will be able to consider that another win if it ACTUALLY happens. But signs are, given your performance during the campaign and in the last couple weeks, that your being in better than Obama is PROBABLY NOT going to happen on many, many fronts. (And actually to be frank, on many fronts, we DO need a President that does better than Obama at this point in time.) You have a LONG way to go to be as great as you think you are or want to be.
To make matters more complicated for you, governing is no longer just a win-lose game. The actual “game” of leading a government and people in great danger is probably not as fun for you as a running a business or even participating in an outside-the-box political campaign where you were the underdog. It’s a long slog involving lots of laws and rules and I don’t know if you are ready or interested in long slogs, or even, frankly from what I have seen of you, doing the right thing by the law and the American people. You seem, already, to be embarked on what appears to be a path of lies, destruction and what looks an awful lot like…evil, meaning doing the wrong thing even though you know it’s wrong. What you appear to be doing would be evil independent of any particular religious or metaphysical belief system…
The fight against climate change is the enormous, mostly unchosen, fight of the currently living adult generations around the world and you appear to be right off the bat, headed for HUGE failures in that fight by running from it like a coward or ignoramus. Your selection of Myron Ebell to run your EPA transition team, considering Rex Tillerson to be Secretary of State, your campaign to politicize NASA science and your support for and continued personal financial investment in pipeline projects, are very bad signs for the success of your Administration in being able to take care of and protect the American people in the fight for its very existence. For instance, Ebell is a “loser” on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to start. He, a non-scientist, has over a period of two decades, attempted to create a smoke screen for vested fossil fuel interests to keep on heating the planet until we don’t have an environment which is suitable for human life, including the Trump family. Your consultation with Ebell is raising the white flag of surrender before the battle for the lives of all Americans is even begun.
NASA is a “winning” agency in earth science that you are about to make a “loser” and make America and the world lose big in the process. You have said that you want a clean environment and clean water for the American people but your actions and words to date suggest that you don’t know how to deliver those things or don’t care enough to try. To deliver a clean environment you need to collect scientific data and you seem to be opposed to the idea of science and data collection.
Your comments about renewable energy, in particular wind power, are ill-informed, wildly inconsistent, and foolish. America is the “Saudi Arabia of wind”, in particular the mid-section of the country that voted for you disproportionately. If you adopt anti-wind policies you are hurting Americans via increased fossil fuel emissions, reduced employment and income from wind production, and long-run actually hurting bird populations (by increased emissions and changed habitats) that you have said you cared about. A casual observer would say that your positions on wind have everything to do with you continuing to be a very small-minded luxury private real estate developer and that’s it, not the President of all Americans.
Your climate change denial and anti-environmental regulation plans could be sincere personal convictions or maybe you’re just parroting the Establishment Republican lines on regulation and climate change as a political move, advised maybe by that anti-Establishment “radical” Steve Bannon. To support that political move you made, your selection of Ebell, your comments about NASA and wind-power do fit in with that political strategy of (let’s face it, stupid) climate change denial and (also, very stupid) denial of the role of regulations in creating a better environment for human beings.
The trouble is that to ACTUALLY have the clean air and water that you claim that you want for the American people, we have had to have some of the regulations that Ebell and other anti-regulators have fought throughout their life and you railed against in the campaign. In addition to what we have, we will need better, new regulations that Ebell and his ilk would fight tooth and nail. So the question is whether Donald Trump really wants Americans and his kids and grandkids to have clean air and water as well as a strong cleaner economy, or whether he just doesn’t care enough or is really out to lunch on this and other issues.
Regulations Have Made the Trump Family Healthier and Safer
You (and I) are old enough to know from our own experience that the air of New York and elsewhere in the US has improved a lot because a Republican President, Richard Nixon, helped put into law the central regulations of air and water in the United States, the Clean Air and the Clean Water Acts, which are enforced by the EPA. You must have a bad memory if you don’t remember how much worse the air was when you and I were younger. Ivanka, Eric, Donald Jr and Tiffany are healthier because of those regulations and Barron, Arabella, Joseph, Theodore, Kai, Tristan, Chloe & Donald III will be healthier for them if they are not undermined by you and your Administration.
Crime, which you made a major theme in your campaign, has actually gone down over the last few decades in the US and around the world because gasoline and paint were de-leaded, causing people to be less likely to commit crimes. I know you have been telling the lie (or ignorant fabrication?) that crime is at record levels on the campaign trail and recently…sorry, but it isn’t. Again, truth seems to be a challenge for you, Donald.
Remember leaded gasoline? The exhaust from it is bad for young people’s brains… Lead-poisoned kids and adolescents were more likely to have learning problems and impulse-control problems as teenagers and adults, including the tendency to commit violent crimes. De-leading of products is and was all about regulation and not the goodness of the hearts of businesspeople. If you, Donald Trump, think business stops making dirty products or polluting purely as a gift to humanity, there are a whole slew of other fairy-tales about business you probably also believe. So, yes, the biggest decreases in crime are due to the kind of regulations that members of your transition team have spent their working lives trying to undermine and defeat. If you’re actually going to be an anti-crime and pro-health President, you got to be a pro-environmental-regulation President. …I know that presents you with some political problems given your foolish campaign rhetoric but there you (and we) are. There are your words…and then there is actual reality.
But now is even a different time than the early 1970’s when Nixon put into effect those regulations for clean air and water or when lead was banned as a gasoline additive. We now have an extremely likely world-wide catastrophe emerging as temperatures rise to record levels (2016 is the hottest year by far around the globe), ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, the oceans are becoming more acid (because carbon dioxide becomes acid in water), and, very bad for us, the species upon which we depend for food, shelter and fiber are starting to either die out or become decimated in record numbers. It is kind of like a somewhat slower-moving version of the asteroid hitting earth that helped kill the dinosaurs. These changes, and I know it’s been hard for you, Reince Preibus and especially Myron Ebell to accept, are due to human activity and, lately, the decisions we, as individuals and nations, have made to continue on a collision course with physics. Stupidly, it seems some of you guys want to actually cover up the facts and claim like Steve Bannon’s Breitbart fake news site just did that we are setting record cold temperatures based on fabrications versus all of the facts that saw we are broiling in 2016!! Wow, how dumb is that!?! It’s Bannon’s Breitbart dummies versus thousands of Ph.D. scientists with good measuring instruments…
In some late-breaking news, we have a huge crack forming in an Antarctic ice sheet. Once that piece of ice breaks off it will become an iceberg the size of Delaware and…eventually melt contributing to rising sea levels and coastal flooding, including flooding of your properties. Now the question is whether Donald Trump is smart enough to realize that this is happening or, along with his new, Establishment Republican buddies, sticks his head deeper into the sand and hopes the world doesn’t see his butt and their butts sticking up together.
I know you have claimed that climate change is a Chinese hoax but not only have the Chinese denied this (I guess they would if it were their “hoax”, right, paranoid people?) but Exxon-Mobil knew about climate change and its devastating potential impact as far back as the 1970’s before the Chinese ever did. Exxon scientists were some of the first to measure the effects of global warming!
The fact of human-caused or human-accelerated global warming is just a matter of physics (and not politics as your friends over at Breitbart try to spin it), as more heat-trapping gases are pumped into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels brought up from underground and then don’t get reabsorbed by the natural carbon cycle. Even as far back as the early 20th Century, there were some concerns that coal use, then the primary fossil fuel, would eventually lead to warming, which it has. People like Myron Ebell have been hired by Exxon (and other big corporations) over the last two decades to cover up the basic science of this and you’re helping that Big Lie along by consulting with him and other climate deniers. I thought you hated liars…? If you actually, really “hate” liars, why are you promoting liars into positions of power, as well as telling lies or expressing through words just plain ignorance on your part?
Look, you have to be pretty naive to think that all of the measuring instruments and the scientists that put them into place, have been “cooked” in favor of a government policy actions which you (recently) and Myron Ebell (always) oppose. You have to be pretty paranoid, in a not-at-all-clever, sick and twisted kind of way, if you think that all of the many scientists in the world and their data collection methods have got together to form a conspiracy from which none of them really benefit in any material sense. These thermometers and the scientists who read them ultimately don’t care and in fact many people who report the obvious truth about fossil fuel use, including myself, are dismayed about some the changes we have to put into place to stabilize the climate for human posterity. It’s going to involve sacrifices that we don’t like and, for that matter, many corporations are not crazy about. Ebell tries to make a big deal about how some industries will profit from climate action but he is just protecting the bigger profits of big Establishment corporations like Exxon and Peabody. Someone will probably profit from doing the right thing…that doesn’t make the physics or the need to put the needs of kids and grandkids first, go away. You, Donald Trump, don’t claim to be a perfect angel and neither is the business of making much better decisions with regard to energy and emissions “perfect”, which Ebell and others like him, stupidly, seem to assume.
Invisible Things Can Hurt All of Us
You know, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you are seriously convinced that climate change isn’t happening or isn’t a big deal and point some things out to you that are real and happening now. I may be a fool for even giving you the consideration that you simply and sincerely don’t understand the simple physics of it but here goes.
You, Donald Trump, know from your own experience that the exhaust from cars and trucks has become less smelly and less toxic, as I pointed out earlier. This is due to regulation of the emissions of cars and trucks by the US federal government and individual states. Also still coming out of tailpipes, smokestacks and oil and gas extraction and distribution networks today are invisible gases, carbon dioxide among them, that don’t smell or form smog. Methane, the main part of natural gas, contrary to popular opinion doesn’t smell either (though gas companies mix in rotten egg smell so you can smell a gas leak) and you can’t see it either. Carbon dioxide and methane are the two big heat-trapping gases that stay in the atmosphere for decades and centuries.
Carbon dioxide and methane trap heat because of the way they capture infrared radiation from the sun, a type of light that creates more motion in the atoms and molecules of the atmosphere. There are other chemicals that capture this radiation but these are the big two for our global problem. Any kind of heat measured by thermometers is really just the sum of all the vibration and motion of atoms and molecules in the atmosphere and oceans. The more motion there is, the hotter it is, or alternatively the more capture of infrared radiation, the faster the molecules and atoms vibrate and move. The more motion there is in gases and liquids the more they expand and the more they transfer that heat and force to biological systems like human beings and other living things. Biological systems like ourselves are made up of complex cells with a complex chemistry that can only survive within certain temperature limits. If you’ve ever seen images of protein molecules they look like a very complicated piece of architecture or machinery. Heat will “denature” a protein because it gets bombarded by water and other molecules moving faster or changed chemical conditions, and then the protein-machine won’t work.
Our molecular machinery is a physical miracle but also can be easily destroyed by physics (and not just big asteroids you could see in a telescope). That heat can become intolerable for both non-human and human species as the chemical reactions we need to survive are attacked by heat or by microorganisms (diseases/bugs) that are better adapted to heat than we are. Also the heat changes the state of frozen or liquid water…it melts it or evaporates it. This melts ice caps and increases the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere that also traps heat from the sun.
Now, imagine all of those expanding fluids and molecular motion represent a huge force that is there 365 days a year and will start to interfere with and crush the biological life that we know because of the expansion of those fluids that are both inside us and outside us. The “crushing” can take the form of heat exhaustion of human beings or other species upon which we depend but also of more violent storms, flooding, or intense droughts which will continue to grow more intense as the planet heats.
Furthermore, as a germophobe, you, Donald Trump, should be particularly concerned about global warming because it puts the germs at a huge advantage to their human (and animal) hosts. Germs can evolve many, many times faster than human beings can because they live maybe a few days rather than six to nine decades, so global warming puts the germs as huge “winners” while human beings and their food animals and plants will be the losers. The germs will be able to adapt more quickly to the rapid changes in temperature and climate we have been putting in place. Just as germs tend to migrate from the tropics now to more temperate areas, the warmer world will be a paradise for germs and lead to the sickening of humanity.
Also as a real estate developer and investor with a portfolio of mostly coastal properties at or near sea level, it seems as though you have put two and two together in terms of the impact of climate change on your properties, like your prized Mar-a-Lago. Have you thought about how rising sea levels and more violent storms will affect the value of your properties that are right at sea level as well as your many New York City and other properties that are very near sea level? It appears as though there is already a movement in real estate appraisals afoot that downgrades the value of coastal properties, as insurers and others correctly notice the obvious, which you and your appointees, like the passengers on the Titanic, seem to be ignorant of or want to distract us from.
By creating a mood of disregard for our warming planet and sea-level rise, maybe there are some rich fools to whom you want to sell these properties? It seems like an enormous rip-off frankly, if you are both aware of the danger to your properties and trying by being a “climate-ostrich” President to create or promote a mood of reckless disregard for the future in our national policy…that effects everyone.
Not only trying to rip off the rich “greater fools” but trying to rip off everybody? In the world? How smart! How wonderful! Brilliant!! Grifter-in-Chief!!
Why Destroy the World of Your Children and Grandchildren?
The most vulnerable Americans are younger people for a number of reasons, being that they are dependent on their parents, grandparents, caregivers, and teachers to grow and learn. Barron, Arabella, Joseph, Theodore, Kai, Tristan, Chloe and Donald III are dependent on you as their father or grandfather for protection and guidance. Other children likewise look to their parents, relatives, and teachers to take care of them and lead them on a better path. Yet this has always been true since the beginning of the human species. But now in these few years ahead, more than ever, children need our protection from the new threat of our own fossil fuel dependence, the associated emissions from their use, and the rapidly destabilizing climate system that will change irreversibly via continued warming and high emissions levels.
Given that you have supported (lately) climate denial with your appointments and statements of intention, I am not entirely sure that you truly love or care about your children and grandchildren, or at least the world that they will inhabit. However, I will proceed here with the assumption that in fact, somewhere deep down, you do love and support these kids and grandkids but are somehow misinformed or have misaligned your values in these areas in some way. Maybe I am naïve and foolish to give you that credit even temporarily but I will proceed with that assumption right now.
First let me say that the impacts of climate change are already being felt now and will continue during your Presidency and will during that time period have very troubling and deadly impacts. We don’t have to wait for your younger children or grandchildren to grow up for these impacts to become obvious and political and economic liabilities. The great migrations from Syria and parts of the Middle East are partly due to the climate-change induced drought there and California, one of the “breadbaskets” of our nation is in a severe years-long drought that may become a megadrought.
The effects of climate change will only get worse: imagine as Bangladesh, an extremely low lying country will be drowned by the Indian Ocean as it rises. This will create just another huge migration crisis. You and some of your political allies in other countries have tried to make hay about the migration part and the threats it poses to the domestic populations. But conveniently or not, you have left out the climate-related causes for migration and our and their role in driving a massive degradation of the global environment via rampant fossil fuel use and deforestation. So climate disasters and catastrophe are here and more to come though the exact timing of them (as with most future events) is impossible to predict.
But, let’s say that you continue to be a climate denier and run an Administration that increases our carbon emissions and therefore further degrades the global environment and hastens climate change. You then would be endangering and damaging your children and grandchildren with your climate denial based policies, even if the Trump and the Kushner families remain relatively wealthy (which is likely though not a given) and can themselves become relatively comfortable climate refugees.
If you continue on the path you are headed on, you will by your actions be taking away the advantages from your kids and grandkids that your dad, Fred, and you enjoyed by inheriting a stable climate with comfortable temperatures as well as a society provided with ample public goods like roads, sewers and an adequate public education system open to all.
The value of your and your dad’s real estate, while this might be hard for you to admit, has something to do with the good social and natural environment that our and our parents’ generations inherited from nature and our ancestors. A single entrepreneur, real estate developer, or rich person cannot provide most of the conditions upon which they have based their wealth. Look, Trump Tower is valuable (as are your other properties) in substantial part because of all of the public services near which it is situated as well as a relatively (still) benign climate in New York City. It would not be as valuable in a desert town with no one around…right? You and your father needed the help of nature, other real estate developers and the government services (the building of Fifth Avenue!) to take advantage of, as does any other real estate developer. I know it might hurt your ego to admit this kind of thing but I am talking to you here as an adult, fully facing the reality.
By continuing on your path of climate denial and climate destruction in the office of President, you are taking away from Barron, Arabella, Joseph, Theodore, Kai, Tristan, Chloe and Donald III the natural and social advantages that you and your father enjoyed!
The real estate that they inherit will become less valuable, even if you or your family, in acts of unprecedented corruption, try to use the office of the Presidency to expand your holdings. The natural environment around your properties will become less attractive or hostile to guests, prospective buyers, and lease-holders. Many of your properties near the sea will be destroyed or uninsurable against storm damage.
Even if you were to be able to convert all of your real estate assets into more liquid assets, again maybe using the highly corrupt tactics that you seem to gravitate towards, Barron, Arabella, Joseph, Theodore, Kai, Tristan, Chloe and Donald III would all have less valuable real goods and services to buy because the world, including the supporting natural world of non-human species (like food) would be less productive of “good things” for them to buy. They might not ever taste shellfish, for instance, as the acidification of the oceans might drive many shellfish to extinction (because the acid dissolves their shells). They couldn’t necessarily buy themselves shelter from the many, many MORE migrants that will be fleeing multiplying climate disasters, many of whom will be desperate people. They will not be able to live in bubbles, as you have not had to live in a bubble to make your businesses what they are today. Whatever amount of money they inherit will not shut out the world nor, if possible, would it be desirable for them to live in capsules because you, ignorantly or willfully, hastened the destruction of what was left of a habitable and potentially profitable world for them.
Donald, as you might guess, I was not at all enthusiastic about your Electoral College win, given what you campaigned on in many issues and observing how you spoke on the campaign trail. You spoke truth about a couple issues but then overwhelmed those truths with a flood of lies, ugly emotions, ugly intentions, and ugly speech. You seem to want to become a backwards-looking dictator, who makes up his own rules and feeds at the public trough, rather than a good American President, serving the public interest. In fact, the chances are greater that you could become by far the WORST American President than the best, essentially, with the help of the Republican Congress and Supreme Court, ending the American Republic and replacing it with a corrupt oligarchy/plutocracy or kleptocracy.
If you were to take steps to be a “better than WORST” President, I would recommend the following:
- Commit to truthful speech and fact-based policy decisions, including reinforcing the earth science capabilities of NASA, NOAA and other government agencies to study and report on climate change.
- Commit to rule of law in your own personal dealings as well as your conduct during your Presidency. Do not substitute or seek to substitute your ego or will for the law.
- Commit to the goals of the Paris Climate Accords and push the Republican Congress to act on climate change.
- Commit to 10% per year carbon emissions reductions for the United States economy and government by a combination of switching to renewable energy, energy efficiency improvements in buildings and industrial processes and a “green cities” program that includes reducing the dependence of Americans on the internal combustion engine.
- Divest from all fossil fuel holdings in your portfolio prior to placing all of your assets in a blind trust (not in the care of your family members)
- Create a national building code that enshrines the Passivhaus standard as the National Building Energy Code.
- Create a national Green infrastructure program, including a national high speed or Maglev rail system spanning the entire United States.
- Place an escalating tax on carbon emissions, starting at $80/metric tonne carbon dioxide, in combination with a climate jobs program and zero-carbon transportation program.
- Refuse permits on all new fossil fuel infrastructure projects that require federal approval, remove all federal subsidies, including tax subsidies, from fossil fuel related activities.
Given your performance so far on the campaign trail and since the election, I am not optimistic that you could deliver on any of these but, in fairness, now is your opportunity to change.
Michael Hoexter, Ph.D.