Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Trump

As most other Europeans, I was deeply saddened by the news that Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States. In the words of Barack Obama’s brilliant ad, “progress” was on the ballot. And this time progress lost, it lost to the worst kinds of misogyny, racism and anti-liberal divisiveness, all possibly catapulting the world into a new era of protectionism and group egoism. America is not made stronger but weaker by a bleeding Mexico. Carpet bombing ISIS or waterboarding its supporters will not help America’s security but undermine what little moral standing it still has left. And defunding climate science will not make anthropogenic climate change go away.

Yet, the election of Trump cannot be undone. The question then of course becomes, where do we go from here? With regards to my own academic bubble, I would say that the election of Trump once again shows the futility of climate moralism. To make decarbonization conditional on that everyone accepts the same epistemology of climate risks (to say nothing of a commitment to far-reaching environmental sacrifice) is a no-starter. If affluent countries like Sweden still want to make a difference with regards to global climate change, they should focus on the innovation of scalable technologies that are “smarter, cleaner and faster”. Instead of deploying even more non-scalable and expensive renewables, we need to take a step back and look at what kinds of technologies that could make possible a rapid global decarbonization in a world where many people remain uncommitted to effective climate action. Only then can we make a difference.

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