Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Trump’s Cabinet and Invincible “Doubt”

I’ve been doing this for a long time now. Ten years ago, it was clear enough that human pollution was jeopardizing a livable future for my children. Clear enough to lead me to commit before God that I would dedicate what remained of my life to prevent or mitigate tragedy.

There was no honest debate about the facts at the time. The earth was warming. From a scientific perspective, the pace of warming was terrifying. The graph was, in fact, a “hockey stick.” Worse yet, we were pouring more and more of the gases that cause the heating into the atmosphere. For centuries, the atmospheric chemistry had been well understood. More of these gases would cause more warming. And with thicker and thicker blankets of earth-warming gases every year, we weren’t just committing the earth to a continuation of last year’s warming, melting and disruption, we were accelerating the pace.

CO2 concentrations off the charts.      Source: NASA

Then my grandchildren began to come along, adding new urgency to my task. We began to see new record after new record: a hotter world, year after year; faster polar ice melting; accelerated rise in sea levels; more and more extreme weather events; massive die-offs of marine ecosystems; mass human migration from regions beset by epic droughts; a spike in billion-dollar storm events.

It became clearer than ever that I’d chosen the right fight.

But always, always, there were opponents. And they weren’t a few scattered voices. They were everywhere. Certainly, dominating the Republican narrative. But also, the evangelical movement. You’re an alarmist. You’re a tax-happy liberal. This is a big hoax. How else can scientists get rich? Relax, God is in control.

Pruitt, Tillerson and Perry.         Source: Common Dreams

When I started, the claim was that global warming simply wasn’t happening. It was “the world’s biggest hoax.” Scientists were “cooking the books.” When outright rejection of temperature records became completely untenable, then those same records were selectively cited to argue for the “warming pause.”  Yes, it once was warming, but that’s over now.

Of course, that’s now impossible to argue, given three straight years of off-the-charts global heat and polar melting. So the “doubters” changed their tactic. Sure, it’s warming, they said. But no one knows why. Things go up; things go down. Change is inevitable. No one knows why for sure.

But sooner or later, the scientific community would be heard. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences, NASA and NOAA all made it clear, as did every major scientific society in the world: greenhouse gases from fossil fuels are the main contributors to climatic disruptions we’re seeing all over the globe.

For a time, the “doubters” muddled by, insisting that they were not scientists, and couldn’t be expected to answer basic questions on the topic. But this only lasted for a couple of years, till it began to dawn on people that they were also not oncologists, but still got treated for cancer when diagnosed.

And that brings us to today’s new talking points being rolled out by the Trump transition team. Scott Pruitt for EPA, Rick Perry for Energy, Rex Tillerson for State: they’re all reading from the same script:

Sure, climate change is real. Sure, greenhouse gases are a big part of the problem. BUT, we don’t know how much, or what the future will hold. We don’t know for sure the best way to fix the problem. So, we need to keep debating this.

Let’s keep talking, because no one is positively certain what the future will hold.

What’s the common thread in all these arguments over the years? For an economy addicted to fossil fuels, we’ve got wonderful news: We don’t need to do anything. We can stop the global efforts at climate action, while we talk. We can stop the transition to a clean electric grid, while we talk. We can stop helping flooding and drought-stricken countries, while we talk.

And we can talk for a long, long time.

Please, dear friends: Don’t let them talk while our Father’s world – and our children’s only home – flirts with tipping points to runaway heating. What to do? Start by joining Climate Caretakers, and begin to learn, pray and act to protect the creation.

Why I Am Devastated by the Election

Reverend Ed Brown is a preacher. And a good preacher knows how to tell a story.

The former missionary to Pakistan is now in the business of caring for God’s creation, and mobilizing the Christian church to join him. And to help us understand the world we now live in, he asks us to imagine ourselves as the crew of a passenger liner at sea, many days from the nearest shore. We all have important jobs to do. Some of us prepare delicious food for the restaurants on board. Some of us manage entertainment for our passengers. Some run children’s programs for families on the trip. Some keep the toilets working. Still others provide medical care to the sick on board.

reflection-hero-1600x900_tcm27-78547

“I have some sobering news…”

We are all busy with our callings, and each of them is vital to the success of our voyage, and even the safety of the thousands of passengers under our care.

But on this particular morning, the captain calls us all into a meeting on the ship’s bridge. His expression today is grave.

“I have received some sobering news from the chief engineer today,” he begins. “None of us should panic, but I need you to listen carefully to every word he tells us.”

The engineer steps forward, and lays out the story: During the night, there was an accident in the engine room, and the ship is taking on water. The pumps are running at capacity, but we are not keeping up. The ship is already riding lower in the water. More can be done, but we need everyone’s help for the survival of the ship. He lays out the plan in detail. It calls for our best efforts. If we all play a role, we can make it safely back to port.

“You still have your own jobs to do,” concludes the captain. “Children still need to be cared for. Meals still need to be prepared. Sick passengers still need medical care. But now, you must do your work with this in mind: It will all be for nothing unless we pull together on the engineer’s plan. The voyage, our passengers, and even our own lives hang in the balance. We can spare no effort.”

Rev. Brown’s story is, of course, the story of manmade climate change and Christian mission. Some of us are called to care for the aged. Some are called to relieve hunger. Others provide clean water; or teach children; or reconcile those in conflict. Others, perhaps, are more like the passengers – until now, mainly focused on our own vacation, leisure and appetites.

But whatever we’re doing now, runaway climate change threatens to sink all of our efforts. The hungry, the thirsty, the children, those fleeing conflicts – none will be spared if we don’t rise to the challenge.

But like the ship’s crew, we have a plan. In fact, the whole world has come together and agreed on a response to climate pollution. It’s called the 2015 Paris Agreement, and the 195 nations of the world have all agreed to it. It’s designed to assure that global temperatures don’t rise more than 2 degrees Celsius from those that sustained our parent’s world. Despite an ambitious start, we’re told that it’s not quite good enough to get us there. We’ll have to come back with even more creativity and resolve if we want to keep our planet below that perilous heat threshold.

But let’s go back to the ocean liner. Let’s imagine that the crew had some doubts about the captain’s plan. The entertainment director never had much trust in captains anyway. And he certainly had no time for boring engineers with their oily coveralls and dire warnings.

“The leak is a hoax,” he begins whispering to his shipmates. “We’re being led by stupid, stupid people. I could make this voyage really great, but we need to make some changes at the top.”

And next morning, we wake up to find the entertainer in command on the bridge, and the captain confined to his quarters below deck. The ship is just beginning to list slightly to starboard, but the casino and nightclub are packed. Everyone’s having fun. We’re no longer headed back to port. The children under our care run and play, unaware that the engine room is now almost flooded out.

And that’s the story that began to unfold last week, when voters in the world’s richest and largest economy chose a climate change denier as captain of their ship for the next four years. He has promised to withdraw from the Paris Agreement; to forbid the EPA from regulating CO2 as a pollutant; to abandon the Clean Power Plan; to construct new pipelines to increase the flood of Canadian tar sands crude – the world’s dirtiest oil – through the American heartland to export terminals on the Gulf; to increase fracking for natural gas; to reverse the long-term decline of coal extraction and burning.

ship-21And in case there’s any doubt about how serious he is, he’s appointed one of the most notorious climate change “hoaxers” to lead his transition team at the EPA. The rest of the world has begun to ask if it’s possible for worldwide climate action plans to survive under such an assault. Some are talking about slapping carbon tariffs on anything imported from the US. Others are calling us a “rogue nation,” like North Korea.

Me, I’m watching the children play on the ship’s pool deck. Look! There are my little granddaughters! And my daughter-in-law rocking her new baby! They’re so beautiful. They’re so beautiful. My eyes moisten.

Suddenly, I grab for a rail to catch my balance. The ship is now listing harder to starboard. The little ones don’t notice yet. Ice cream is being served. With sprinkles.

My Congressman’s Belated Conversion on Trump

Note: This article contains uncensored quotes of American politicians, and may be unsuitable for polite company or children.

Dear Congressman Garrett (R-NJ-5th):

I was curious to find your name on the growing list of Republicans who have jumped ship on Donald Trump. Finally, after The Washington Post released video recordings of him boasting about sexually assaulting women. Digging a little deeper, I found only a vague statement from you calling his conduct “inexcusable.” Specifically, it appears you said:

“I am appalled that he would brag about violating a woman’s physical boundaries. As a husband and father of two daughters, I denounce his comments and the behavior that it incites.”

On October 7, the Washingotn Post release video footage in which Donald Trump boasted of sexual assault against women

On October 7, The Washington Post release video footage in which Donald Trump boasted of sexual assault against women

Well, that’s good. Here in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District, I suspect that just about everyone with daughters or granddaughters (like me) would say no less. And most people who care for any woman or girl would surely agree.

So, bravo, congressman! I guess.

I’m assuming this means you’re no longer really supporting Trump. Am I right? To be sure, you’ve been willing to stand with him through a lot. Until now, nothing he’s done has cost him your support. But then, why now? Please, sir: How is this so different from the litany of outrages that you’ve tolerated to this point?

  • Mexicans are criminals and rapists (June 16, 2015). Trump kicked off his campaign with this shocker. Not a problem for you, Mr. Garrett. Right?
  • POWs, like John McCain, are not war heroes (July 18, 2015). A little awkward? But you went along.
  • “I know more about ISIS than the generals do” (November 12, 2015). I guess we’ll just call that political hyperbole, right? All good.
  • “Now this poor guy, you ought to see this guy” (November 24, 2015). Trump flailed his arms to mock the disability of a reporter who had debunked his scandalous claim that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11. But this somehow didn’t bother you?
  • “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” (December 7, 2015). You remember? Trump’s absolutely shocking call to violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Sure, it wasn’t your religion he was talking about. But it was too much for your fellow NJ Republican, Christie Whitman.
  • Cozying up to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin (December 18, 2015). That cost Trump a few GOP endorsements, but you were still good.
  • PolitiFact gave Trump the 2015 Lie of the Year Award (January 1, 2016). 70 percent of Trump’s public statements were Mostly False, False, or Pants-on-Fire False. Only 16 percent were either True or Mostly True. You, a religious man, were unmoved. At least he isn’t Hillary (whose PolitiFact ratings bear absolutely no resemblance to Trump’s).
  • “Knock the crap out of them, would you?” Trump’s many instances of incitement to violence against opponents (this example, February 1, 2016) were a bit awkward for people who favor peaceable discourse. For you, not so much.
  • Torture as American policy is a good thing: “I would bring back waterboarding, and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” (February 6, 2016). It was way too much for many of your GOP colleagues. But despite all that stuff in the Bible, the Constitution and the Geneva Convention about the dignity of human life, not you.

    PolitiFact rated 70% of Trump's statements in 2015 to be false

    PolitiFact rated 70% of Trump’s statements in 2015 to be false

  • KKK Grand Wizard David Duke endorsed Trump, and the candidate refused to disavow the endorsement (February 28, 2016).  Practically every Republican with the word “Former” in his title condemns Trump at this point. Any reaction from you, Mr. Garrett? Hmm.
  • A candidate who boasts to the country about the size of his penis (March 3, 2016) is probably something our nation’s founders probably never really thought much about. Mitt Romney flipped out. Still no word from you.
  • My wife is prettier than your (ugly) wife (March 23, 2016). Trump’s Twitter post to debase Ted Cruz’s wife based on her appearance shocked women everywhere. Despite your love for wife and daughters, no comment from you.
  • A judge can’t rule on my Trump University fraud case because his parents were Mexican (June 5, 2016). Mr. Garrett, this didn’t bother you? You still didn’t speak up?
  • We just might renege on our treaty obligations and abandon our NATO allies: “Congratulations, you will be defending yourself” (July 20, 2016). Even the prospect of a Free World without solid alliances didn’t bother you, Mr. Garrett?
  • Let’s ask Russia to hack into the Democratic Party’s computer records (July 27, 2016). Cyber warfare may be a serious threat, but let’s keep our priorities straight: Beat Hillary at any cost, right?
  • Bereaved Muslim Gold Star parents have nothing to say, and it’s because of their barbaric religion (July 30, 2016). The trickle of GOP defections from Trump swells to a torrent, but still no word from you, Mr. Garrett?
  • After the election, NRA allies can still stop a future President Hillary Clinton, implicitly by assassinating her (August 9, 2016). Well that was awkward. Jack and Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan – all great leaders tragically shot. But I guess we’ve got to find some way to stop our political opponents in this country of ours. Still no word from you?
  • “He’s the founder of ISIS” (August 10, 2016). Interviewers virtually begged Trump to say he was joking about President Obama, but he held the line. And you went right along. A torrent of GOP defections ensued. No problem yet for you, Mr. Garrett?z1aj7ceqopjtftpbiflgptm_cmiobey5ovqq4xbavwfn-wiqdt8uxf4xw_l9lxoj3lrw5swoojhfyvaexdttr8xkqcf58toz5batt_ph-zxreoflclsqeoxmgzbzmqe6gs2yoacg
  • “I’m not a big believer in manmade climate change” (August 11, 2016). Eleven times, Trump called climate change “a hoax” or “bulls**t.” He even promised to kill all American and global efforts to save our children from a chaotic climate future. Still no problem for you, Mr. Garrett?
  • Trump asserts that five black men who languished in jail for 13 years for a crime they did not commit were guilty anyway, even though their innocence had been conclusively proven (October 6, 2016). Still nothing there to lose sleep over?

So far, no problems. Trump is still your man, Congressman Garrett. But there’s big trouble just around the corner. We’re about to learn – finally – something about this otherwise good man that you simply cannot abide:

“Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything.” On October 7, 2016, headlines all over the world scream out Trump’s obscene boast. If you’re a rich and famous star like Trump, “you can do anything” you want to a woman.

Now that’s different. You are shocked. Shocked! Talking disrespectfully about women. Bragging about committing a vile crime. Boasting about being so powerful that you can force American women to have sex with you. Beautiful women. Women whom you can picture looking like your own daughters, perhaps?

Well, golly. Now that’s inexcusable. Do we have this right Mr. Garrett?

Just to be clear, then, it was okay that Trump vowed to kill the world’s last and best hope for saving our children from catastrophic climate change, right? It was okay when he trashed Mexicans, Muslims, blacks, women, war heroes, disabled people, and grieving Gold Star parents? It was okay when he admired dictators, advocated torture, incited violence among supporters, and hinted at assassination of an American president? And you didn’t mind when he threatened to break faith with our closest allies, and suggested they get their own nuclear weapons?

But now, he’s finally done something that bothers you. Well, sir, we welcome you. We, too, were horrified with what Trump dismisses as “locker room talk.”

But I just can’t contain my curiosity: You had no problem with all this other stuff? Really?

Digging deeper:

  • Trump’s PolitiFact dishonesty record: Here
  • Scott Garrett finally speaking up on Trump: Here
  • Trump’s statements about the “climate change hoax”: Here

Editor’s note: Beloved Planet comments exclusively on matters related to caring for God’s injured world, and especially matters related to climate change. We do not endorse candidates for public office. But this election cycle has featured very little meaningful debate on the threat of manmade climate change, one of the greatest threats faced by our world and the global Christian church today. Republican Donald Trump has vowed to kill the Clean Power Plan (as has Libertarian Gary Johnson), the centerpiece of America’s crucial contribution to the global Paris Climate Accord, signed by more than 170 countries. Such a move would almost certainly spell the Paris Accord’s complete failure.  Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein have vowed to implement the Clean Power Plan and comply with the Paris pact.

I know, I know. Donald Trump once claimed that climate change was a hoax developed by the Chinese to scam American manufacturers. But come on. He recently argued that his Scottish golf course needed a sea wall to protect it from rising seas due to climate change. In the end, we assumed, he’s not insane, and would not sacrifice our children’s future on the altar of climate denial.

But Wow! Have you seen all the nutso climate stuff he’s put out for years now? I’m beginning to think he actually believes what he says. The League of Conservation Voters has assembled a list of his climate pronouncements and Tweets, and it’s terrifying reading from someone who is that close to the Oval Office.

Consider this little one: On New Year’s Day 2014, Trump tweeted: “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps, and our GW scientists are stuck in ice.”

So, according to Trump. global warming was “bullshit.” Where did he get that? Well, for the record, 2014 turns out to have been an all-time record hot year for the planet, a record broken only 12 months later by 2015.

2013, which is probably what Trump was thinking of, was among the top five hottest years on the global record. But it was downright chilly in New York on that New Year’s Day. It’s cold! Right here. Right now. So global warming science must be “bullshit.” Who needs the scientists when you can take the escalator down, step out onto 5th Avenue and see for yourself?

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Trump has sworn to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement endorsed by all the world’s nations. He would renegotiate it “at a minimum,” even though the entire thing was made voluntary so that the U.S. Congress couldn’t kill it. American military planners should not be allowed to plan for climate threats, even though all naval bases are threatened by rising sea levels.

In the waning days of 2015, he told a campaign rally: “It’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a money-making industry, okay? It’s a hoax.” Three months earlier he told the Wall Street Journal “I don’t believe in climate change.” He criticized Pope Francis for warning the world about climate risks. “Where the hell is GLOBAL WARMING?” he tweeted on a cold winter day in 2015.

The U.S. Senate is about half full of people so addicted to oil money that they block climate action at every opportunity. What if they had someone with this mindset in the White House?

Summer of Trump Yields to Autumn of Francis

And I can hardly wait.

Because it’s been a really long summer. And that’s coming from a man – an old, white man, at that. Makes me wonder how women and people of color must be feeling.

But still, it’s been grueling. It’s not just the narcissism, or the rudeness, or the stupidity, or the frivolity. It’s this: That constant drumbeat that we need to keep them out, suppress them, even kill them.

Them. You know, THEM.

Maybe they’re rapists and criminals. Maybe they’re terrorists. Maybe they’re stealing our jobs. Maybe they want us to acknowledge that their lives matter. THEM.

We need to build walls against THEM. We need to deport THEM. We need to stop THEM from devaluing their currency. We can’t let THEM vote.

I wish it were just Trump. But it seems almost everyone wants to make sure he’s not out-Trumped by anyone else. It seems to be the easiest ticket to popularity in an American election season: Make sure everyone hates and fears the dark and sinister THEM.

Pope_Francis_Korea_Haemi_Castle_19_(cropped)But while I hear it every night on the news, during the day I’ve been reading Pope Francis’ wonderful letter “On Care for Our Common Home,” or “Laudato Si’ (Be praised, my Lord).” If there are more striking polar opposites, I can’t think of any more pronounced than the message peddled by Trump (and Trump wannabees), and the hopeful message of Francis.

And that’s because – at least in part – Francis doesn’t recognize that any of us are THEM. The title of Laudato Si’ gives you the first clue: “Care for Our Common Home.” OUR home. Our COMMON home. It’s not an American home over here, and a Mexican, Syrian or Chinese home over there. It’s one home, shared by everyone, protected for everyone, or polluted for everyone. Treasured for everyone, or debased for everyone.

“We need to strengthen the conviction,” says Francis, “that we are one single human family. There are no frontiers or barriers, political or social, behind which we can hide, still less is there room for the globalization of indifference.”

“Whether believers or not, we are agreed today that the earth is essentially a shared inheritance, whose fruits are meant to benefit everyone. For believers, this becomes a question of fidelity to the Creator, since God created the world for everyone.”

But back here in the Summer of Trump, we’re treated nightly to plans to build a 2,000-mile wall to keep THEM out. “Nobody builds better walls than me, believe me,” says the orange-haired fellow. Never mind that net migration across that particular border is actually ZERO.

But for Trump and the keep-THEM-out crowd, their worst fears are about to be realized. They are – in fact – coming. THEM. But in this case, THEM is a smiling, one-lunged, Argentinian priest and his collection of bishops from all over the world.

He’s going to be greeted by throngs that will put to shame the pitiful little crowds that cheer and sneer for Trump. And Francis is not just going to comfort his audience with assurances that we are all common creatures of one loving Lord and Father. He’s got some tough love for us: We, on THIS side of the border, owe a staggering debt to THEM, on the other side.

“A true ‘ecological debt’ exists,” he has said, “particularly between the global north and south, connected to commercial imbalances with effects on the environment, and the disproportionate use of natural resources by certain countries (you know who he’s talking about, don’t you?) over long periods of time.”

In effect, we’ve been polluting the whole world’s atmosphere for so long, and gotten so rich by doing so, that we are far worse than mere equals of our poorer migrant brothers. We are, Pope Francis points out, deeply in hock to those who are suffering the global effects of our 200-year fossil-fuel binge.

So when Francis speaks publicly in Philadelphia or Washington, I’ll find a way to be in the crowd. I don’t expect to be entertained. I know that all quarter-million of us on the National Mall will be among the “twenty percent of the world’s population” that “consumes resources at a rate that robs the poor nations and future generations of what they need to survive,” according to Francis.

I expect him to tell us that we need to consume and pollute far less for the sake of our children. “The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes,” he has written. “Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice.”

I don’t expect it to be all that much fun. But I plan to be there. Because maybe, just maybe, the summer of stoking fear of THEM is finally yielding to the autumn of US.

If so, I want to be part of it.

J. Elwood

Download Laudato Si’ Digest : our own thumbnail version of Pope Francis’ letter “On Care For Our Common Home.”