Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Professor of Philosophy Firmin DeBrabander, Maryland Institute College of Art, has joined the growing list of greens who think “autocratic” governments like China are better climate custodians than Democracies.
Why is climate change such a hard sell in the US?
June 8, 2017 12.36pm AEST
President Donald Trump on June 1 took the dramatic step of removing the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement – the product of many years of diligent and difficult negotiation among 175 nations around the world. Recent polls reveal that six in 10 Americans oppose Trump’s move. However, a significant portion of climate skeptics remain – especially among Trump’s base and the Republican politicians who cheered this move.
The unfortunate truth is that environmentalists and their allies have failed to ignite widespread passion around climate change. And now they are faced with an administration stridently opposed to environmental regulation, slashing the EPA’s budget drastically and reversing President Obama’s climate change initiatives.
Learning from the past
I suspect that because of all these hurdles, climate change is not liable to be solved by democracies. Autocracies might do better – like China, for example. Given the severity of its current air pollution – a veritable “airpocalypse” – China’s government does not need to be prodded or persuaded to act; the necessity is obvious, and urgent. And China has the ability to take dramatic measures on climate change and act quickly – just what scientists are calling for – dragging the people with them. This is, after all, the nation that lifted half a billion people into the middle class in a single generation.
China in particular has a long and shameful track record of pollution and disregard for the environment; cities choked with smoke, toxic waste dumped into the nearest convenient lake. Communist China has a long history of utter disregard for the needs of ordinary people.
DeBrabander’s claim that Dictatorships like China “might do better” at handling climate issues than countries whose governments are accountable to the people is absurd.