Is Donald Trump Encouraging Climate Change to Promote Fascism and Genocide?
September 11, 2018
Matthew Barad / Keep Colorado Green & Tim Hollo / At the Well & Gaby Galvin / US News and World Report
Commentary: While the wealthy remain safe in their bunkers, while the nationalists hide behind their borders, the rest of humanity will be left to starve, wither, drown, and burn. This is the world of Donald Trump. This is the future of Climate Fascism.
Donald Trump and Climate Fascism
Trump is using climate change as a weapon of genocide
Matthew Barad / Keep Colorado Green
(September 2018) -- Earlier this [year], when President Trump moved to open nearly all offshore waters to drilling, my immediate reaction was disgust at his idiocy. I could not see any logic behind further propping up fossil fuels amidst global climate disaster, a market which is rapidly shifting to renewables, and an international community which is unanimous in their condemnation.
Given time to reflect on this decision, however, I have concluded that the coming harm of Trump's climate policies are not the product of ignorance, but intentionality.
At best, Donald Trump is a bigot. At worst, he is a fascist. And in a world where natural disasters disproportionately harm the poor and nonwhite, hastening climate change is more than an existential threat, it is a targeted weapon of genocide.
A few months ago, I wrote a piece on Hurricane Harvey, which highlighted the plight of the poor in natural disasters. In the time since, wildfires, typhoons, and more hurricanes have struck, once again leaving the struggling in shambles. These disasters are well understood to be exacerbated by climate change.
Perhaps counter-intuitively, the increase in disasters is targeting the poor and vulnerable more than anyone else. While the homes of millionaires burn just the same, they alone have the money for new mansions and luxury bunkers.
In the past, I have compared Trump to Nero. His opulence and ignorance seemed reflective of Rome's fall, and the insanity of his policies sounded to me like the strums of that infamous fiddle. Now, however, I hear a much more sinister tune.
Trump's allies, from Richard Spencer to now-ousted Steve Bannon have an unmistakable Nazi streak. Spencer openly calls for a white ethno-state, and unapologetically blames ethnic diversity for the problems facing our world. Even Trump's "respectable" Republican allies regularly blame the poor for their poverty, and have even refused to provide blameless children with healthcare and food.
This hatred for the poor and the diverse manifests itself in revocation of TPS for immigrants fleeing natural disasters, neglect of American citizens without homes, hope, or power, and the passage of legislation which systematically steals from the poor for the sake of the rich.
Just as the Northeast is facing record low temperatures, homelessness has begun to rise for the first time in a decade. Just as floods and fires are destroying entire communities, poor Americans have less savings than ever to help rebuild. Just as swaths of the globe are becoming unlivable, America's borders are becoming tighter.
Trump, and those around him, are not only making climate change deadlier, they are ensuring that the "undesirables" are more vulnerable than ever before.
The trouble for 21st-century fascists is that the world is too keenly aware of the horrors they beget. In spite of their best efforts, we remember the unspeakable tragedies in Germany, Turkey, Rwanda, Cambodia, and many, many others.
Americans know that Japanese citizens were interned. They recall the Trail of Tears -- and many fled the Holocaust themselves. So the Nazis of today must seek alternative methods of extermination -- and in climate change, they have found their final solution.
In the world of climate catastrophe, there is no need for death camps, nor internment. Simply build your walls, dig your wells, and burn, baby, burn. So long as the poor and nonwhite remain too vulnerable to protect themselves from tornadoes, or rebuild after wildfires; so long as we keep polluting, climate change will act as fascism's invisible hand.
While the wealthy remain safe in their bunkers, while the nationalists hide behind their borders, the rest of humanity will be left to starve, wither, drown, and burn. This is the world of Donald Trump. This is the future of Climate Fascism.
Matthew Barad is a 20-year-old progressive, and a lifelong advocate for justice. He is the founder and President of Keep Colorado Green. Keepcogreen.org
Climate Change and Fascism –
Two Sides of the Same Coin: Disconnection
Tim Hollo / At the Well
(December 18, 2017) -- Climate change isn't "just" an environmental issue -- we've known this for a long time. It will have enormous effects on where and how we live, on already difficult economic and racial justice challenges, on our economies, and much more.
One under-appreciated aspect, however, is the impact it is likely to have on our politics. As the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, something that has always troubled me is that food and water shortages, massive population displacement, and geopolitical instability could lead to climate-driven fascism.
What I never expected, however, was that the relapse towards fascism might arrive well before the worst impacts of climate change.
The rise of Trump, Hanson and the Brexiteers, and the terrible increase in antisemitic violence that we are seeing in Australia and around the world, are just the most obvious markers. The slow, deliberate wind-back of democratic and civil rights is a more subtle one. And state-backed racism against any people should be a stark wake-up call to all Jews.
But what are the underlying causes? In the climate field, we have begun to effectively delve into the systemic drivers of global warming. When it comes to extreme-right politics, less so. There's a lot of discussion as to whether and how to respond to a politician such as Pauline Hanson. Digging deeper, there are conversations about the people who voted for Hanson and Trump: how to talk to them, how to move them.
There's less about the deepest layer: dealing with the circumstances that created them.
It's my contention that the rise of climate change and fascism have a common source: disconnection -- from each other, from nature, from democracy.
Consider our loss of capacity to feel part of the natural world. The separation of humanity from nature has been growing since we first built cities. But industrial capitalism accelerated it dramatically, driving the enclosure of the commons, forcing people into cities to sell their labour.
Through this process, we are losing not just our connection to the natural world, but also, starkly, our ability to describe it, our vocabulary. Blackberry no longer means a fruit we can pluck and eat, but a device to tie us to our labour even when on the toilet.
We cannot protect nature until we stop treating it as separate, until we reconnect. As one of my favourite slogans from global climate activism goes, "we are not protecting nature, we are nature protecting ourself".
Let's turn to the rise of the extreme right: of Hanson in her burqa; of Trump and the new U.S. fascists; of Brexit; of religious fundamentalist violence.
All these gain their power by tapping into disconnection. Economic inequality is one driver, but it's only part of it. What is deeper is the disenfranchisement. "Take back control" the Brexit slogan, makes sense. It is absolutely correct that "elites" have taken control of our lives; have bought, stolen or been given our institutions, our democracy.
However, what all these demagogues do is the classic fascist bait and switch. They grab the disconnection and bring people together, not to cooperate to build better futures, but rather as a mob, primed and ready to incite. They rile people up about unfairness, inequality and lack of control, then misdirect it, away from the real causes of corporate power and towards some scary other, like Jews, blacks, immigrants, LGBTIQ people, the unemployed.
A huge part of the problem is that we are disconnected not just from nature and each other, but also from democracy. Government no longer has any real presence in our lives thanks to privatisation and corporatisation of everything from railways to post offices, medical services to unemployment services.
The relationship between citizen and government becomes one of customer and service provider, in which we, the citizens, have no capacity to play any active role.
We face a deep democratic deficit, with the undermining of the power of voting and criminalisation of protest. See the access corporations have to parliaments and MPs. See investor–state dispute resolution in international trade law, where companies can sue governments to overturn their decisions, often in ways citizens cannot.
Our adversarial system, where politics becomes a gladiatorial battle rather than a tournament of ideas, similarly contributes to disillusionment and disenfranchisement. Another strand is the oversimplification of political disagreements to superficial caricatures, the idea that we can't deal with complexity. Which, of course, when we're stressed, we can't, so we turn to populism.
We turn away from politics and democracy because we no longer believe they can achieve anything. We desperately need to reclaim them!
Just as we cannot protect nature until we connect ourselves to and within nature, we won't be in a position to fight fascism until we can truly show we are connecting and enfranchising all people. We fight their exclusionary "we" by showing that an inclusive "we" is not just possible, but better. We do so by rebuilding connection. By building a cooperative, participatory, ecological politics.
What does this look like?
One obvious element is the growth of sharing and repairing. From local "buy nothing" groups to repair cafes, from community gardens to swap-meets in the park, these practices of the commons have always existed. But they are experiencing a new boom as people search for connection to each other and alternatives to the increasingly obviously destructive nature of consumerism.
Another is the rise of online commons. The connective capacity of the internet lends itself to sharing. Open source is a clear demonstration of how cooperating can create huge value, and a challenge to those who say only competition can do so. Linux and Wikipedia are prime examples, and Creative Commons licensing is an institutional reflection of it.
One of my personal passions is working to reclaim public space from advertising. This is one of the starkest examples of governments handing over commons to private interests to profit from, and we can and must reclaim it. Cities such as Sao Paolo and Grenoble have done so, banning billboard ads, and Paris, Chennai and others are limiting it.
There is increasing interest and movement again towards worker and community co-ops, from fruit packers and dairy farmers to babysitting clubs, from food co-ops all the way through to large-scale energy cooperatives.
Taking co-ops to a remarkable institutional level, we've seen the arrival of some modes of truly participatory politics, such as the recently elected government of Barcelona. In the wake of the GFC, with Spain deep in recession and the government (and EU institutions) driving austerity, a tremendous co-op-based people's movement arose across the country, with co-ops for food sharing, childcare sharing, healthcare, housing, squatters' groups and more. In Barcelona, it was powerfully organised into a political movement.
I was lucky enough to travel to Barcelona earlier this year and met with some of the people involved, hearing about the direct line between building those co-ops, organising them together in grassroots ways, with both practical projects and theoretical thinking, leading to the creation of a political project that won minority government last year.
Now, of course, they are struggling with how to create institutional change, particularly with national and global powers arraigned against them. But they have successfully taken back control of water supply, legitimated squats, are working to make energy a public right rather than a commodity, and much more.
I also travelled to London and met the people behind the Participatory City project there. They are working with local government to provide institutional support to communities to develop their own urban commons projects, from cooking co-ops to knitting groups, from pop-up shops to creative cafes, partly because of what each project brings, but largely because of the overarching benefits across the community. They have already found that these projects reduce a vast range of social ills -- homelessness, drug addiction and family violence.
At a lower level, it's worth noting that governments around the world are experimenting with participatory democracy in a direct response to demands for greater democratic involvement, and societal tensions caused by disenfranchisement.
Often they are focused on local planning issues, but they are also used to get to answers on difficult questions of public policy, sometimes effectively like in South Australia's citizens juries, and sometimes as a distraction, such as the postal vote on marriage equality.
Finally, there's the idea of a universal basic income. Essentially, a UBI is a system where income doesn't start at zero, to ensure that nobody in our society lives in poverty. But, deeper than its redistributive effect, it is an inherently democratising project, reconceiving the relationship between citizen and state.
It recognises that there are a multitude of different ways people participate and contribute, not just through paid labour; it rebalances power between employers and employees, gives people the basic resources, time, energy, support they need to take the steps they might want to take in life.
That is very far from an exhaustive look at the kind of practices and politics that can help address the crisis of disconnection. So much more is going on, and so much more is possible. Each of them might seem small, but together, they can shift our political and cultural norms.
We won't be safe from climate change or fascism until we do so.
Tim Hollo is a musician and environmentalist. He is Executive Director of The Green Institute, and founder and CEO of Green Music Australia, an organisation seeking to help the music scene lead the way to a greener world.
He was previously Director of Communications for Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne, has worked for and sat on the board of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, worked for 350.org, Lock the Gate and others, and has performed around the world from the Sydney Opera House to Carnegie Hall. His writing has been published in The Guardian, ABC Online, Crikey, Fairfax and elsewhere.
10 of the Deadliest Natural Disasters of 2017
Gaby Galvin / US News and World Report
(September 20, 2017) -- Climate and weather disasters have hit nearly every continent in 2017: flooding and monsoons in South Asia, hurricanes and major earthquakes in North America, landslides and drought in Africa and a tsunami threat to Central America.
These disasters "vividly demonstrate that we need to redouble our efforts to reduce the impact of such events in the future," Robert Glasser, a United Nations disaster risk official, said in a statement Sept. 8. "If we do not succeed in understanding what it takes to make our societies more resilient to disasters, then we will pay an increasingly high price in terms of lost lives and livelihoods."
These 10 disasters are among the most severe this year as of data available Sept. 20, 2017.
1. South Asia
Flooding and landslides resulting from monsoon rains have affected at least 41 million people in Bangladesh, India and Nepal this summer, The New York Times reported. About 600 of the deaths were in India, where nearly 2,000 relief camps have been set up, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
2. Sierra Leone
Heavy rainfall and flooding sparked a huge mudslide in Sierra Leone in August, killing at least 600 and directly affecting more than 6,000, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. More than 85 percent of affected people have been reached with food and other disaster relief items, the U.N. reported.
A massive landslide in the southern city of Mocoa killed at least 300 people (originally thought to be 254, but the death toll was later raised) and injured about 200 others in early April. Just two weeks later, another 17 people were killed and two dozen injured in another landslide set off by heavy rains, CBS reported. Both disasters hit some of Colombia's poorer cities and caught residents by surprise after heavy rainfall.
A major 7.1 magnitude earthquake shook Mexico City on Sept. 19, killing at least 225 people. The earthquake struck on the 32nd anniversary of a devastating 1985 quake that killed thousands in Mexico, and came less than two weeks after another massive earthquake killed at least 96people and left 2.5 million in need of aid. Mexico rescinded its pledge for Hurricane Harveyrelief after that 8.2 magnitude quake, which destroyed or damaged tens of thousands of homes.
5. Sri Lanka
Over two days at the end of May, heavy rainfall and strong monsoon winds caused flooding and landslides that killed 213 people and affected about 415,600 others, about 30 percent of them children. More than 250 people in Sri Lanka have died from dengue fever since the disaster, and the humanitarian aid needs of the country remain significant, particularly in terms of access to safe, clean drinking water and the safety of temporary shelters.
6. Democratic Republic of the Congo
An August landslide killed 174 people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There were 57 survivors and 280 children orphaned. Top priorities are the "assistance to affected people and the relocation of villages in areas currently at risk," according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Avalanches caused by heavy snowfall killed 156 people in Afghanistan and Pakistan, CNN reported. The majority of the damage was in Afghanistan, where most of the victims were women and children and 300 homes were destroyed.
Flooding in Peru in the first few months of 2017 triggered by unusually warm Pacific waters off the coast killed at least 150 people and affected more than than 1 million. Reconstruction efforts could cost more than $9 billion, Reuters reported in July.
China was hit by severe floods between January and July, killing at least 144 people -- 56 alone over several days in early July. Other natural disasters killed an additional 70 people in the first half of 2017, according to China's Ministry of Civil Affairs and the National Commission for Disaster Reduction. In all, disasters have displaced about 1 million people and destroyed 31,000 homes.
Severe rains and a downgraded cyclone killed 117 and left thousands homeless in Zimbabwe in the first few months of 2017, the New Zealand Heraldreported. Since the start of the rainy season in October 2016, at least 246 people have been killed.
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