by Rosalie Anders
Defeating Donald Trump is essential if we are to have any chance of avoiding worldwide climate catastrophe. The scientific consensus is that we have about ten years to do that, and it means taking extreme measures. It means starting now. With Trump, of course, we have instead a systematic unraveling of the relatively small steps that have already been taken.
The ten-year timeline makes climate destruction unique among the issues the world faces. We are entering negative feedback loops that are accelerating the destruction. To name a couple: With warming, there is less Arctic sea ice to reflect the sun’s rays; the water that replaces the ice absorbs more sunlight, thus adding to the ocean warming and more ice melting. Droughts from climate disruption spark forest fires, which increase C02 emissions. The ten-year warning, scientists tell us, is a conservative estimate. We may have much less time.
So how can the planet survive four more years of Trump/Republican actions that seem designed to speed up the destruction? This destruction is essentially forever. The human lives lost, if US policies and behavior don’t change, will far outstrip the number of lives lost in war.
Of course there are many other reasons for us to dedicate ourselves to getting Trump out of office. We need to end the spread of the virus of hate that is infecting our nation. We need to address income inequality, the role of our military in the world, health care and housing. We need to nurture the small but important growth of discussion around what a new economic system could look like and how we could move toward it.
The Bernie Sanders campaign inspired many progressives, and it showed that there is popular support for working toward a different world. This can be a strong basis for organizing for the changes we need, if Biden is elected thanks in part to the Sanders wing’s work, and if we elect a Democratic Congress. It will, of course, be a tough battle, but I believe we have enough fired-up people to engage in what is turning out to be the most important election of our lives. If Trump is re-elected, he will call on his triumphant hate-filled supporters to shut us down. There will be nothing to stop him.
I believe that there are literally billions of people around the world whose fate will be determined by this election. The millions of Bangladeshis, whose rice fields are becoming saline as seas rise, the millions of people in African countries plagued by drought. The millions of Americans who still lack health care. Biden versus Trump is not the choice that most of us hoped for, but it is the choice we have. Of course we will have to work very hard if Biden wins, but that is our job, because as Americans we have an outsized impact on the world.
—Rosalie Anders, a retired environmental planner, is a member of the Mass. Peace Action Board of Directors and co-chair of its Climate and Peace working group.