The progression of political history in the USA is not always smoothly organised into idealised transitions. However, Donald trump’s ascendancy to the Presidential post is a startling and exceptional departure. His episodes of irascibility towards his Democratic and Republican contenders during the campaign trail will be a difficult stain to erase from the annals of American political history. Previous Presidents, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, initially viewed environmental matters with sceptical antagonism, mainly because eco-friendly issues were an impediment to the capitalist expansion project. Nonetheless, both Presidents showed respect for hard fought environmental treaties. No Presidential candidate in the USA, apart from Donald Trump, has gone as far as threatening to tear up a major international climate change treaty while in office. The two World Wars casted a dark shadow on the beginning and middle of the 20th century, successive American Presidents have united around the idea of sustainability as a progressive and vital global social evolution. We at Kingston-mouth have never felt slighted by Donald Trump’s oft-repeated rant to make ‘America great’; in the course of making America great again we hope that this process does not lead to a policy stewardship of decimation of the global environment.
It seems the British are preoccupied at the moment with Brexit, Terrorists, benefit scroungers, minor scandals, Trump’s ineptitude and Theresa May’s expensive outfits. The recent spate of terrorist incidents happening across major European capitals leaves us bewildered, fearful and full of consternation. These current debates, together with a push towards a globalise mass consumption culture, have clouded our vision of the fact that the planets resources are dwindling at a rapid pace. There is no doubt planet earth is veering towards an ecological catastrophe caused by a dangerous Faustian pact between humans and the greedy capitalist cabal. The fetish of the billionaire classes to amass wealth from carbon fuelled mass consumerism will lead eventually to the barbarisation of humanity and an ecologically sick planet.
Our insatiable appetite for fast combustion engines, shiny outfits, expensive mobile phones, and nuclear devices will eventually drain the planets resources. The scenario for the future is dismal; we are heading for a fortress world where billionaires will live in their high security homes while the rest of us will have to scrap from their garbage bins like rats and vultures. There is an over-riding fear by Kingston-Mouth that humanity will not find a path to a desirable form of global sustainability if we do not have a cultural change away from the abusive one that we currently share with our fragile planetary habitat.
Accounts of the need for global sustainability usually emphasise that carbon dioxide is one of several greenhouse gasses that are a threat to humanity and the future global safety. There is a body of scientific evidence that has led to the consensus that there is a need for world governments to act urgently to cut carbon emissions. Even the most ardent climate change deniers will admit that 1998 was the warmest year on the planet. |A decade leading up to 1898 we have witnessed several storms, hurricane and earthquakes never witnessed before in over a century. These erratic weather patterns along with rising sea levels over the past three decades are a hint of what future generations will endure if we do not act now. There is a drumming out of the voices independent conscious green lobby groups by the appeal of mass marketers and producers of consumer goods. Green lobbyists have often alerted us to international concerns about human negative impacts on the planet’s atmosphere, land and water resources, the bioaccumulation of toxic substances, species loss and the degradation of ecosystems. Last year a study (World Economic Forum) estimated that around 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enters the ocean each year; a frightening number of seagulls were found dead with their guts full of plastic bags, lighters and bottle caps and marine mammals were found entangled in fishing gear and plastic bags. It would not be surprizing if these toxic materials will someday either decimate our oceans or end up on our dinner plates.
As we move towards a global planetary legislative framework, political players such as the USA are very important to maintaining a planetary order and investment into safeguarding the planets eco system. The recent election of billionaire Donald Trump as US President has created an uneasiness among the global environmental lobby and rightly so. They are anticipating an ominous financial downgrade by the US on climate change funding via the UN. Trumps election campaign speech promised that if elected, the shale energy revolution would be unleashed. He dismissed wind and solar energy as too expensive and asserted that the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese to make US manufacturing non-competitive. He further pledged to cancel the Paris climate agreement and to rescind President Obamas clean power plan. He resolutely opposed the use of wind farms although he patronisingly acknowledged that he witnessed the threat of rising sea levels next to his golf courses! Shortly after his inauguration, among his hastily implemented executive order was the fast-paced environmental review of high infrastructural projects, most of which will be built on Indian reservations. Surely, from Donald Trump’s campaign utterances, his actions as President, his selection of a number of climate change sceptics to his cabinet, these moves can be interpreted as a push towards a Barbarization environmental scenario. The possibility that a protectionist right wing US political polity cold force us into a state of environmental disinvestment and downgrade of the global treaties and international protocols aimed at safeguarding the planet is scary. This was unimaginable a year ago. We are hopeful that a thoughtful US congress and Senate will forge a cross party consensus that will hold Donald Trump and his Cabinet to account.
At this point, it’s worth reminding our readers of the historical gains in the past century that have been made to raise a decent standard of awareness. The first and second World wars confirmed the fears outlined by in 1789 by Thomas Malthus about the population veering out of control with war and famine acting as a regulatory framework to slow down an impending population explosion. The fear at that time was that the food supply would not meet the needs of the planet’s population based on the accelerated growth rate. At the end of the second world war the UN emerged from the tumult offering a global institutional framework with a vision for a future that would safeguard peace, freedom, material well-being and environmental health. Contributing to this great institution were environmental luminaries such as Barbara Ward, Fritz Schumacher, Raul Estrada, Javon Stanley and Maurice Strong. More recently, Al Gore’s participation in the Kyoto protocol of December 1977 and his 1992 publication, Earth in the Balance, had a profound influence on Presidents Clinton and Obama. Similarly, a number of significant treaties, protocols and environmental conferences have been held under the auspices of the UN. The 1972 Stockholm conference, the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, the Toronto protocol, the Helsinki convention of 1992, the Montreal protocol of 1987, the Stockholm convention of 2001, the Paris climate change conference of 2015, have produced important treaties and International agreements on global sustainability.
The debates about global sustainability has always been fraught with disagreements amongst politicians, scientists and diplomats as to whether humans are in part responsible for global warming. Equally, there is disagreement among climate change deniers as to whether carbon dioxide contributes to the raising of global temperatures. The first UN sponsored climate change conference in 1972 in Stockholm was a cat-herding exercise; even developing countries resisted the initial invitation as they felt that it would curtail their developmental goals in manufacturing, mining and economic growth. China and India, who were not major economic players at the time, initially resisted attendance at the conference. In fact, there was a north-south divide on how global sustainability should proceed.
The Stockholm conference was convened because Swedish scientists were alerted to an increase of acid rain falling across Scandinavia. The Swedish government, who were concerned, raised the alarm in 1968 at the UN General Assembly; a resolution was passed to convene the world’s first international conference on the environment. Maurice Strong, a Canadian, was appointed by the UN as head of the conference secretariat. He co-opted Barbara Ward, talented British environmental campaigner, famed for coining the term of global sustainability. She was a first-class lobbyist with important international connections in Europe, North America, Asia and Africa. She got the dissenting parties together and use her influence to persuade Indira Ghandi to speak at the conference. On the eve of this conference, Ward argued forcefully that high income countries should allocate 1% of their national income towards aid programmes that would assist third world countries suffering from economic hardship.
The conference took place over eleven days, with a high level of international participation. China made its first appearance at an international conference and used this to attack Imperialism and Colonialism. There was much horse-trading on the settlement of several recommendations; these ranged from the establishment of a world meteorological organisation to carry out global atmospheric research that would determine the causes of climate change. A generic catalogue of measuring and limiting noise emissions, global warming of the oceans and marine pollution. During the final days of the conference it was a touch and go situation whether it would be successful or not, however the member countries were able to agree on nearly one-hundred recommendations. This signalled the first environmental wave of the modern world.
Four and a half decades and many conferences later, there remains opposition to regulating the environment. The resistance mainly comes from multi-national corporations who are resistant to a low carbon environmental regulatory framework. Most of them are billionaires such as Donald Trump who are bent on using an unchecked amount of resources without consideration of the negative impact that it would have on future generations.
The anti-environmental lobby consists of persons mainly in the pockets of billionaires. They decry the overwhelming scientific evidence that unsustainable development and human activity will lead to the demise of the planet. They employ scientists who argue cynically that the science of climate change is suspect because it does not meet Karl Popper’s verification and falsifiability standard. They also argue that the future cannot be predicted. On the other hand, we assert that the weather and climate change cannot be placed in a test tube so it should be held to different scientific standards; climate change is a system science. Moreover, environmental scientists have a vital role to make a risk assessment of the future. At Kingston-mouth we believe there is a simpler explanation; the world resources are not finite so we should never take the risk of allowing the greedy Capitalist cabal to drive us to extinction based upon their selfish here and now profit motives. The tacit response from the billionaire class towards the environment is a shoulder-shrugging business as usual attitude. Yet, on the green lobbies part, if Capitalism is to hold a normative position into the future it must incorporate positive values and attitudes towards the environment.
Our stark message to President Trump and his carbon consuming billionaire pals, is that we at Kingston-mouth support the goal of the UN on global sustainability and we urge them to follow suit. The UN target is to stabilize CO2 at 450 ppmv (parts per million by volume) by the year 2100. This they believe will keep the increase in average global temperature below 2ºC, a measured enough change to allow most ecosystems and species to adapt (IPCC, 2001). This will entail that greenhouse gas emissions in industrial countries are cut in half over the next 50 years so that poor countries can slowly unite toward common low-emission global standards in the late twenty-first century. With Donald Trump is at the helm of the free world, the future of global health and sustainability will be viewed through two hazy crystal balls: one of fear and the other of hope. The best way to create a safe future is by using clean and friendly technology, recycling, solar and wind energy, electric and hydrogen powered vehicles, biodegradable bags, and a limited amount of safe nuclear energy. At Kingston-mouth we are hopeful for a good future for generations to come. As part of the 99% we will always globalise our discontent when the web that connects us to the planet is in danger.
This article was written by Donovan Reynolds CEO and edited by Ann Smith Managing editor of Kingstonmouth.com. Donovan Reynolds is an Independent blogger and Human Right’s Activist of Jamaican descent and a legal Academic who has an interest in Human Rights, Culture and International Development issues. Readers of this article are welcome to provide feedback at the space provided at the end of this article ar at firstname.lastname@example.org useful commentary made on our Facebook and Kingsonmouth@twitter pages.