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Disaster Films: Trump and Climate Change

It’s still summer, so still a season for disaster films. And we’re in the middle of watching two of them.

Let’s call the first one “Trump: The Sequel.”

The Donald’s presidency holds daily plot twists. But if you’d paid attention to his past career –bankrupt casinos, Trump “University” and other ripoffs – well, then you had some idea of what was coming.

Hence “The Sequel.” After the idiocy of the Electoral College vaulted him to White House, we knew it was gonna be a rough ride.

The second ongoing disaster film could be called “Climate Apocalypse.” I think “Day of the Living Dead” is a better title. But someone in Hollywood already owns that one.

There’s not enough space in this newspaper to enumerate the outrages of Trump’s seven months in office. But in case you haven’t had your daily fix of Trump-induced adrenaline, I’ll offer these recent ones:

– News that Trump sought aid from a close Putin aide to boost a project in Moscow – at the same time he was running for president and pedaling a policy of appeasing Russian aggression.

– The failure to consistently condemn racists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, while calling some of them “very fine people.”

– The pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted for his policy of illegally rounding up Latinos and imprisoning them in facilities Arpaio proudly called “concentration camps.”

– Signaling that Trump could well grant other pardons, including to those caught up in the Russian probes by the special counsel, Robert Mueller.

– Firing FBI Director James Comey. And then brazenly admitting – to the Russian ambassador in the Oval Office, no less – that he did it to take the heat off himself for allegedly colluding with the Russians to steal the 2016 election.

No one knows how this disaster movie will end. But if history (i.e., Watergate) is any indication, we have a pretty good idea of the next big scenes.

First the special counsel investigation widens, as allowed by law, to encompass related elements of presidential corruption. For both Nixon and Trump that has included cheating on tax returns and attempting to obstruct federal investigations of their crimes.

The next big scene comes when Trump fires Mueller. (Remember the signature line of his reality-TV career: “You’re fired.”)

Mueller will be removed as he tightens the noose around the necks of Trump and All the President’s Men (and Women; lookin’ at you, Ivanka).

Trump can’t directly fire the special counsel. But that’s a minor detail. He’ll first have to fire Mueller’s boss, Rod Rosenstein,, and keep firing others down the line until he finds a Justice Department flunkie to do the deed.

The way things are going now, that could get down to the janitorial staff.

But you can bet Trump will find someone willing to remove Mueller. Just as Nixon found Robert Bork willing to fire Archibald Cox, the first Watergate special prosecutor, after Eliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus bravely refused to do it.

The mysteries will remain, though: Will there be a replacement for Mueller (as Leon Jaworski replaced Cox)? And will the Republican-dominated Congress have the guts to eventually impeach Trump and force him from office?

Or will the Republicans roll over and play dead as they have so many times this year, watching as this dumpster fire continues to burn through the heart of America.

Speaking of burning: Bigger and more dangerous forest fires are just one of the many scenes in the climate catastrophe movie. Highly destructive hurricanes like Irene and Sandy are part of the picture, too – and probably Hurricane Harvey, too, which is now devastating Houston.

One new scene in “Climate Apocalypse” is playing out this way:

There’s convincing evidence that the Alaskan permafrost is no longer permanent – and is in fact melting at a dangerously rapid rate. That in turn releases much more carbon into the atmosphere. It intensifies sea level rise, food shortages, social unrest, and heat that that will soon make some parts of earth uninhabitable.

We used to be able to say that at least Vermont was doing its part to fight climate change. We could point to the emergence of 350.org, to the continuing resilience of activist groups such as Rights & Democracy and 350Vermont.org, and to clean-energy efforts such as those of Efficiency Vermont and the Energy Action Network. VPIRG is also doing an admirable job building grassroots support for a “fee and benefit” approach to price carbon emissions.

But Gov. Phil Scott has taken a right-hand, anti-climate turn. He’s appointing opponents of clean wind energy to prominent positions, including leadership of the Public Utility Commission. His new climate change panel is dominated by business representatives and has only a couple people representing Vermont’s large environmental community.

So if you’re looking for a big scene in “Climate Apocalypse” where Vermont’s governor plays a heroic role—well, don’t hold your breath.

The endings of these films aren’t written yet. But we know one thing for certain.

To quote a famous line from “Apollo 13”: When it comes to the Trump presidency and climate change, “Houston, we have a problem.”

– 30 –

 

 

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