While a terrified world witnesses the first days in office of that trainwreck known as the Trump “administration,” another threat silently unfolds before our eyes. Big Oil won the 2016 election and now it’s drooling over the size of the spoils after having placed the Who’s Who in climate denialism in the Trump cabinet.
The diplomatic experience of former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state nominee, consists of pandering to some the world’s cruelest despots. With his pal Vladimir Putin, he signed an oil deal worth $500 billion, which went bust after Former President Obama imposed sanctions on Russia following Putin’s invasion of The Ukraine.
[pullquote]Scientists warn us that to avoid the worst consequences of climate disruption, we must leave at least 2/3 of the planet’s fossil fuel reserves in the ground.[/pullquote]
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Nominee Scott Pruitt sued that very agency 14 times as attorney general of Oklahoma. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, and frustrated Big Oil ambassador to the world, pretends to head the same Department of Energy he once tried to eliminate and could not name.
The list of atrocities grows by the day, including a recent announcement that Trump will soon issue an executive order abandoning the Paris Climate Agreement. In Trump’s cabinet, all henhouses have their foxes to guard them. And the whole lot threatens to turn our government into a kakistocracy.
Big Oil may have won the election but is losing the battle for the future of world energy. As Former President Obama wrote, the clean energy economy advances unstoppable around the planet.
Costa Rica, for example, generated practically 100% of its energy from clean, renewable sources in 2016. And in Great Britain, wind power has overtaken coal for the first time in history. It’s no wonder last year 16 oil and gas companies around the globe went bankrupt, whereas none did in 2012.
And here in the US, solar and wind have created 12 times more employment than any other sector of the economy. An Environmental Defense Fund study revealed that the sustainability sector provides 4.5 million jobs that cannot be exported. In fact, according to the Department of Energy, solar employs more energy generating workers than oil, coal and gas combined. And no matter how hard deniers cite alternative facts, the reality is last year 60 percent of the energy sector growth came from solar and wind, about 24,000 megawatts worth.
The cost of denying these facts, however, would be catastrophic, both economically and climatically. While Trump threatens to abandon clean energy, China announced it will create 13 million jobs and invest $360 billion in this sector by 2020.
Scientists warn us that to avoid the worst consequences of climate disruption, we must leave at least 2/3 of the planet’s fossil fuel reserves in the ground. Even so, Trump reactivated the projects that would build both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, two reckless, unnecessary ideas that would benefit only the oil companies behind them.
Among us Latinos, the support for a clean energy economy is more than overwhelming. A recent Green Latinos/Sierra Club national poll revealed that almost 90 percent of Latino voters support the Paris Agreement and 82 percent the Clean Power Plan that would comply with the global accord.
Trump insists on acting as the only world leader that rejects climate science. During his first few days in the White House, however, he has received noticed that he will face ferocious resistance from the majority of the country and the world.
Javier Sierra is a Sierra Club columnist. Follow him on Twitter @javier_SC