I’ve been asked by some reporters about the significance of Donald Trump’s victory for the agenda of climate and security, the emergent concern that climate change is likely to produce consequences that rise to the level of security challenges for the United States and rest of the world (some background here and here). Some of my initial thoughts were quoted today in Scientific American and I’ve expanded on them here. As I noted in my last post, we’ve already seen considerable speculation about what the Trump administration might yield on climate change and wider environmental policy.
We’re kind of entering in to Kremlinology territory here. We don’t really know what is going to happen, and I think assuming the worst might actually be strategically counter-productive. Donald Trump has already signaled that he was going to walk away from a number of his previous hardline policy commitments like the border wall.
To the extent that he does possess an inner pragmatist as President Obama has suggested, then those baby steps in the direction of the light out to be encouraged. True, it is easy to read too much in to ambiguous statements like Trump’s apparent open mind on climate change policy in his New York Times interview last week.
My general sense is that yes we have reasons to be concerned, but we should also wait to see what Trump intends to do, who he actually appoints to key positions,and whether some of the more out there ideas — like zeroing out NASA’s earth science efforts — actually get taken up in policy. I also think we need a theory of how to influence Donald Trump personally and the Trump administration broadly. Let me speak to both issues and the significance for the climate and security agenda.