How to talk to President Trump about climate change.

A set of hypotheses. There is also the “don’t let him do anything approach” which has its logics…. however this is more based in the idea of talking to people….

1) Do not make climate change a challenge of the form “you cannot do this”. This is not about victory over others. If you do this, he will try to ‘win’ to prove you wrong. Thus if you say “coal is doomed”, or “coal cannot be rescued” he will be obliged to prove you wrong, and it is easy for him to do so.

Any industry can be saved for 4 or 5 years if you are prepared to throw enough tax payers’ money at it, and/or cripple the business opposition by regulations and taxes.

Corollary a:  do not say “renewables cannot be stopped” – yes they can – they could be declared illegal, or made impossible to establish.

Corollary b: Telling him the “science says” seems to set up a situation in which he knows best and will prove it.

Corollary c: it might be better to argue President Trump is running away from climate change, because tackling it is too difficult for him.

2) Not losing money is important – this is how human psychology works, loss seems bigger than gain. Perhaps if the Keystone pipeline is to be closed then investors (such as the president) should be compensated? It could be cheaper than spending endless amounts of money to prove coal is viable.

3) Without engaging in triumphalism, we could keep pointing out that there is lots of money to be made in investing in renewables all over the world.

On the other hand, climate change could result in massive economic losses if we don’t act. Talk to the insurance industry who are losing the continuity of events that allows them to issue insurance and profit.

We could even argue that government regulation of trade is bad, get rid of both fossil fuel subsidies and renewable subsidies.

4) Climate change and the extreme weather it brings, threatens the social order. Sure not much has happened (to wealthy people) so far, but the long term prospects are not good. Revolution, loss of position, loss of wealth, buildings could fall, costs of fixing damage etc. are all things to be dealt with.

5) Be prepared to yield. If the president ‘needs’ to loose windfarms near his golf courses, then it may not be helpful to set up a situation in which he tries to obliterate all wind farms in revenge.

6) Trump positions can change with remarkable rapidity. A few years ago, Vladimir Putin was almost universally agreed to be evil. A few flattering words about Mr Trump and he seems to have become the hero and darling of the alt.right (as you can soon see, if you look). Who would have guessed, that a State which has been an enemy of the US for over 100 years, could be rehabilitated so easily, even when it still appears to be threatening US interests?

Could the same happen with climate change? Could President Trump be flattered into action?

7) It may be useful to suggest that President Trump is smart enough to work out the realities, or not, of climate change if he talks to real climate scientists, and does not allow his advisors to prevent him from doing this.

8) Ultimately you may need to stand firm, fight and win, but going into such a posture at first may not be helpful, and may set up more polarisation, which will delay things as Trump supporters will be bound to try and prove themselves right.

9) Don’t expect the media to do anything for you, such as convey useful information and criticism. They didn’t during the campaign, they won’t now.

Anyway, just some suggestions.


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