In their article “Climate Policy in the Age of Trump: A Plausible Way Forward”, authors Ted Nordhaus, Alex Trembath, and Jessica Lovering make the argument that new President Trump’s hostility to climate policy may in fact actually have a beneficial effect on significant environmental issues such as climate change.
Whereas Trump has campaigned on radical changes to U.S. environmental policy, such as withdrawal from international treaties and reduced funding for climate change research, the authors argue that such policies represent a status quo position to environmental issues such as climate change and are thus failures. Instead, by abandoning these approaches, as it seems President Trump will, the authors believe this opens possibilities for new approaches, such as promoting and developing expanded capabilities of nuclear energy.
The major environmental issue of the article is thus the issue of climate policy and how to most effectively deal with the phenomenon of climate change.
Accordingly, the five W’s in this case are President Donald Trump (who), what should be done about climate policy (what), the real threat of climate change and the inadequate approaches to climate policy (why), the significance of this issue to the United States (where), and the new opportunities presented in 2017 by the election of Trump to the presidency (when).
Clearly, climate change and climate policy, which defines how human beings should tackle the climate change problem, is an environmental issue of profound importance to the human being, since it affects both in what way we decide to live as well as the very habitat which provides the human being with our environment. In so far as there is a problem with climate change, climate policy must be sufficient to adequately deal with the magnitude of this problem. Various disagreements on the climate change issue, from radical positions such as the denial of climate change to different approaches regarding how to most effectively deal with climate change, have created a policy situation which is ambiguous and cannot seriously address the issue at hand to the detriment of all human beings and the environment.
To the extent that we accept climate change as a fact, which most scientific data indicates is true, then the significance of this issue is clearly profound. This is obviously because with a continually deteriorating climate, radical changes in the ecosystems of which human beings are part, will take place. The various possible scenarios are still open to scientific debate, however, the very reason that climate change is an issue is that because these changes shall be significant. Formulating a coherent climate policy on a global level is a challenge of diplomacy as well as scientific conclusions regarding the correct identification of the problem as well as its solution, decisions that will impact the entire population of the Earth.
Awareness of this issue is obviously crucial because all human beings are affected by the potential dangers of climate change. We have to understand the reasons why current policies have failed, as the article indicates. We also have to think about alternative solutions. Certainly, there are issues here which are not environmentally related, such as the interests of political actors or other actors such as corporations, which complicate scientific analysis and proposed solution.
It would seem that one of the clear ways forward would be some type of global agreement on climate change. This is why various treaties exist. However, actors such as nation-states, as the article demonstrates, often place their own interests above global environmental concerns. Because of the extent of the issue and its impact, it would therefore seem necessary that only global solutions can help, since climate change is a global issue.
The article in question argues that even though it appears that Trump will change environmental policy, this may not be necessarily a bad thing, since the authors believe that current policies are not working. Thus, attempts to limit carbon emissions, the authors claim, have failed. However, changing environmental policy may not be a bad thing, to the extent that precisely the old policies have failed. The article changed my opinion slightly because previously I believed that any type of changes made by Trump would be negative for environmental issues. But the authors make the compelling case that the status quo has not been working and precisely eliminating the old approach can create the new opportunity for innovative thinkers to formulate new and effective climate policy solutions.
Others should read this article because it changes some preconceptions about climate change policy. The intuitive response is to think that eliminating climate change programs means not committing to solutions. However, eliminating status quo solutions may open a space for innovative solutions which are more effective.