Trump’s Empty Chair on Climate Change

There was a climate change meeting on Monday, August 26, 2019, at the G-7 summit. Trump did not show. Instead other administration members went, supposedly. All the other leaders were there and went on without the American president. Trump’s actions once again left the U.S. increasingly isolated on the world stage, distanced even from its allies. And once again, Trump and Company stupidly and ineptly lied about it, fully expecting folks in America to buy it.

Initially, Trump’s people excused his absence by saying he had scheduling conflicts at that time, specifically bilateral meetings with Germany and India. But scheduling conflicts because of meetings with whom? The leaders of both countries were in the meeting on climate change. Are we to believe that Trump allegedly could not attend a meeting with other world leaders and instead sent lackeys, if that, because he was personally meeting with lackeys of world leaders, rather than the leaders themselves? If true, both Trump and his staff horribly mismanaged resources and time. However, it is more likely that the Trump camp was simply lying.

We know because Trump did have bilateral meetings with Angela Merkel of Germany and Narendra Modi of India on August 26, but both of those events took place after the climate change session. There is even photographic proof of both Merkel and Modi at the climate change meeting, along with Trump’s chair empty.

G-7 climate change meeting, August 26, 2019. Photo by Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP.

Note the empty chair at the table, reserved for Trump. The other empty chair behind Trump’s makes one doubt if anyone from the administration appeared in any official capacity at the meeting at all, despite claims to the contrary. Also note the woman at the table in bluish-purple at the right side of the photo. That’s Germany’s Angela Merkel who clearly is there and not at a bilateral meeting with the missing Trump. Below is a photo of some of the rest of the table, showing that India’s Narendra Modi sat to the left of Merkel during the meeting.

G-7 climate change meeting, August 26, 2019. Everyone seems pretty happy not to have to deal with Trump. Photo credited to ANI.

Later in the day, when asked about missing the meeting, Trump claimed that instead the meeting was happening shortly. Except at that by that time the meeting had already taken place. In this instance, Trump may have been an utter idiot who had absolutely no clue where he was going. His staff may have claimed conflicts rather than admit the president could not be bothered to get out of bed, i.e., forego executive time, in order to make the earlier climate change session. He genuinely could have been confused on the scheduling front because his staff never even bothered trying to get him to go to the earlier meeting.

But perhaps, given his fragile-ego and his narcissism, Trump was simply trying to cover up the decision not to go, like a toddler who’s done something they know is naughty and protesting their innocence, even though they know the adults are fully aware of the child’s culpability. The possibility that the President of the United States does not have the cognitive faculties beyond those of a toddler should terrify us all.

The president and his staff can’t cover their malfeasance better than lame, easily disprovable lies. And it is malfeasance when it comes to climate change. Right now, numerous fires burn in the Amazon rainforest. The blazes have generated significant carbon monoxide plumes which can exacerbate climate change effects and potentially contribute to urban smog and air unhealthy to breathe. Every year, the U.S. faces escalating costs due to drought, wildfires, floods, and storm damage, all of which are increasing in intensity due to climate change. Beaches close and marine animals die due to algae blooms. Meanwhile plastics have been found in ice cores from the Arctic and in the Colorado rain cycle. The environment and climate change have a huge impact on the economic and general welfare of the United States, as well as the world. For the leadership of the U.S. to blow it off is an egregious dereliction of duty.

Even before the climate change meeting at the G-7, White House aides did exactly that. They griped that the G-7 agenda was deliberately engineered to heightened differences with Trump and other G-7 leaders. Except that, since Trump has positions contrary the other G-7 leaders on almost everything, that’s both pretty much unavoidable and entirely Trump’s fault. Trump’s crew specifically complained there was too much emphasis on “niche issues” like climate change and income inequality rather than important things like the global economy. Except that, climate change and income inequality are incredibly important to the global economy and some of the biggest issues the world, as well as the U.S., faces right now.

Then, on August 26, Trump justified his stance on basically doing nothing, if not outright exacerbating, climate change by essentially saying he’s choosing money over “dreams.” By which he meant, getting money from fossil fuels, natural gas and coal over working toward future energy dominance in renewables like wind. It’s like aspiring to corner the buggy market in the age of automobiles, but I digress. Specifically, in response to whether he remained a climate change denier, Trump said:

I feel that the United States has tremendous wealth. The wealth is under its feet. I’ve made that wealth come alive. … We’re the number one energy producer in the world. Soon it will be by far the number one. It’s tremendous wealth. … And I’m not going to lose that wealth. I’m not going to lose it on dreams, on windmills, which frankly aren’t working too well. I’m not going to lose it. So Josh, in a nutshell, I want the cleanest water on Earth. I want the cleanest air on Earth. And that’s what we’re doing. And I’m an environmentalist.

Trump confused general environmental concerns with climate change issues. Although the two are obviously related, they are not synonymous. He claimed to be for clean air and water, but Trump has sought to roll back clean water protections and auto emissions limitations. Trump has pushed for more fossil fuel production, which results in higher greenhouse gas emissions. Under Trump in 2018, the U.S. saw the biggest increase in greenhouse gas emissions since 2000 and globally, greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow. The pipelines about which Trump has gleefully gloated risk catastrophic water and other environmental contamination with any leak. The Keystone Pipeline leaked over 400,000 gallons of oil in 2017.

Trump’s assessment also completely ignored the greater climate realities for which Americans and the rest of the world are already paying a price. Instead, his pea-brain could only comprehend that climate change somehow relates to energy sources, and nothing further. Forget the money lost and irreparable damage due to hurricanes, fires, and floods from 2017 to the present. All Trump cares about is oil, gas, and coal money. For Trump, worrying about climate change just stands in the way of the Benjamins.

It’s no wonder then that neither Trump nor his staff thought the climate change meeting merited his time. He just wants money for rich, old folks now; screw the planet and the future. Our young people will be left bearing the burden of Trump’s myopic views, including Trump’s own 13-year son. What a short-sighted, stupid, selfish, vain, infantile, tyrannical, narcissistic asshole. His chair remained empty, and so does his head and his heart.

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