Photo: YouTube screencap

Look, upending an entire energy infrastructure is tough, no one’s denying that. Human beings have been burning fossil fuels to power their inventions for over a century now, and making a transition to clean energy was never going to be easy. However, once we as a society understood that burning those fossil fuels is threatening the survival of not just us but most of life on the planet, well, that should have put the screws to the people who ostensibly lead us.

That’s why this list is dedicated to the four worst ways that the political process is failing to improve our present and future prospects for sustainable living. And yes, Donald Trump is number one.

SB 270 in action. via GIPHY

4) They Gained, and Lost, Real Change in California

In 2014, California did something no other state could do: It passed a law (SB 270) that banned single-use plastic bags from supermarkets, pharmacies and liquor stores. Everybody felt real good about themselves until a few months later when the plastic industry rounded up enough signatures to put a referendum on the law, which delayed and may cancel it entirely, depending on how folks vote this November.

Now, technically, this is democracy in action, which is by definition a good thing. This is why referendums exist, to give people a say in laws they find questionable. But politicians should have done a better job convincing people why this law is important, and who ultimately benefits from more plastic being tossed into our waterways and beaches (the answer is no one but the plastics industry). This story’s scope isn’t limited to June, but we ran a feature on it this month, and we’re going to keep running features on it until everybody gets with the program and stops doing something that is destroying our ecosystem and, frankly, cluttering up the aesthetic splendor of all that nature and stuff.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaking at a town meeting at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaking at a town meeting at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

3) They Were Too Scared to Support Bernie

Quick! When was the last time a politician even suggested the way we do things isn’t working and we need to overhaul the system? What’s that, you say? Not in a generation? You win a grand no prize.

Love him or hate him, the Independent Senator from Vermont rallied the youth in a way we haven’t seen since Barack Obama convinced the world he was a Democrat. Or maybe that’s my liberal bias showing, since I can’t rightly tell you what a Democrat is supposed to stand for these days.

Yes, this was just an excuse to use Confused Travolta. Image via GIPHY

Pundits are whining that, with Hillary a lock for the Democratic nomination, young people are dropping out of the election like they’re taking their ball and leaving. And that shows a real ignorance concerning what’s going through young people’s heads. For the past year they’ve been told by Bernie Sanders that their movement can survive on $27 donations while Hillary caters to Wall Street and her million-dollar sponsors. And guess what? Hillary crushed Bernie.

And love her or hate her, Hillary is a much better politician than Bernie will ever be. They don’t call it Big Money for nothing. Of course, had Sanders’ fellow politicians actually supported him earlier, maybe things would have worked out differently.

2) They’re Still Stuck on Fracking

Look, Mr. President, I’m not blaming you for losing the fight to prevent fracking on public lands. Bravo for trying, and bravo for getting the limits on mercury emissions through the Supreme Court; I appreciate it, my lungs appreciate it. But I do blame you for approving 1,200 offshore fracking wells in the Gulf of Mexico, and allowing frackers to dump 76 billion gallons of waste into the sea.

Mr Donald Trump New Hampshire Town Hall on August 19th, 2015 at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, NH. (Photo Credit: Michael Vadon / Flickr)

Mr Donald Trump New Hampshire Town Hall on August 19th, 2015 at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, NH. (Photo Credit: Michael Vadon / Flickr)

1) Donald “Mother-Loving” Trump

Let’s pretend for a moment that the Republican Party is an efficient political machine. Let’s pretend that it hasn’t rejected every opportunity to compromise with the party across the aisle, or the President of the United States; that it hasn’t spat in the face of scientists and staunchly denied (or flip-flopped) on climate science, even when its ties to the fossil fuel industry were obvious for anyone who cared to look; and that it has, for the last 30 years, been an inclusive, compassionate platform that welcomes men and women of all ethnicities, creeds and sexual orientation. Oh! And let’s pretend they haven’t voted against environmental legislation 551 times.

Donald Trump. (Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore)

Donald Trump. (Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore)

If we’ve successfully imagined that version of the Republican Party, Donald Trump being its nominee makes no sense at all.

Here’s the thing: I’m not saying that the GOP is a den of hate-mongering, fear-mongering, war mongers, I’m just saying that their rhetoric tends to go that way. That’s all. So it really doesn’t surprise me that, after all these years, its hate speech finally evolved to the point of singularity and is now a separate, sentient creature.

That creature is Donald Trump, and Republicans, for some reason, are terrified of him. Maybe it’s because they’ve just been paid to deny climate science and keep the brown people down, whereas Trump – or at least his supporters – actually believes what he’s saying.

Or maybe it’s nothing so sinister as that. Maybe they just think he makes the party look silly.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of Trump. Call me crazy, but anyone who can shake up our stagnant election cycle the way Trump has is worth paying attention to. He smacked the stank off this tawdry sham of a democracy, and now people are complaining because they don’t like how it smells.

But if I have to treat a Trump presidency seriously (and at this point, I’m afraid I just may), the man’s public opinions on climate science aren’t anything close to reality. Staff writer Jed Wolf wrote a great article on why Trump thinks he’s an environmentalist (and why he’s wrong), and how he wantonly misstates facts about windmills or just refuses to believe the California drought exists.

Actual Californians searching for water. Image via GIPHY

To be honest, though, I’m still not convinced Trump wouldn’t be a good President. See, I don’t know Trump the politician. I do know the Republican politicians I’ve had to report on for the last two presidential terms, and those guys are terrible at cutting the environment a break. You literally could not do worse. So if Trump becomes President, then the GOP will either be forced to work with him and incur the ire of all the sane Americans (don’t get excited, there aren’t too many of you left), or they’ll refuse to work with him and accomplish even less than they’re accomplishing now.

Alright, you know what? I’m going to level with you. I’m banking on the U.S. going full Mad Max in the next four years and I’ve got a lot riding on Trump to take us there. Django needs a new pair of shoes.


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