Hilary Clinton and Ecological Survival

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Hilary Clinton at the 2014 National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas. Photo: John Locher/AP

Although clearer and more progressive on climate policy and environmental issues than Donald Trump, presidential candidate Hilary Clinton is by no means a friend of the environmental movement. Her role in politics will now be a lesser one after the victory of Trump’s presidential campaign.

This was a politician who made clear that she supported fracking and fossil fuel pipelines in order to “fuel our economy”, supporting renewable energy alongside oil and gas extraction in a confused “all of the above” approach (Norton, 2016). As Secretary of State it was Clinton’s staff who cooperated with TransCanada on the Keystone XL pipeline and she had accepted the false dogma of using natural gas as a “bridge fuel”towards a renewable economy (Cousins, 2016 – see also McJeon et al., 2014 and Hausfather, 2016).

The International Energy Agency has predicted that the majority of the world’s energy will still come from fossil fuels in the next few decades (Tweed, 2016), and a politician who had received “more than $6.9 million from the fossil fuel industry” would have likely ensured that this pattern continued in the USA (Coleman, 2016). Clinton had, in fact, raised more money from the oil industry than her presidential rival (Harder & Mullins, 2016).

Her support for continued fossil fuel extraction occurred with a backdrop of climate chaos. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have recently surpassed the symbolic 400 parts per million (ppm) threshold (Kahn, 2016) with the fear that “today’s greenhouse gas levels may already commit Earth to an eventual total warming of 5 degrees Celsius” over the next millennia (Snyder, 2016). The devastation of Hurricane Matthew, according to CNN, “looks a lot like the future of climate change” (Sutter, 2016). Heedless of this devastation, like the rest of the US political system, Clinton continued to promote the orthodoxy that capitalism is compatible with a stable climate.

Ultimately Clinton shares the same hypocritical approach to climate change that her democrat predecessor Obama had – “tackling [climate change] aggressively on the consumption side but continuing to boost fossil fuel supplies” (Adler, 2015). This involved maintaining a “studied silence” when it came to the controversy of Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline (McKibben, 2016; Ortega, 2016).

The issue however, is now moot. Donald Trump has already begun planning his climate policy, which largely revolves abolishing the Clean Power Plan (Worland, 2016), wanting to “cancel” the Paris Agreement (Mufson & Dennis, 2016), and abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (Plumer, 2016). This, despite the fact that climate change has been recognised as a “major national security risk” by the Climate Security Consensus Project (Papenfuss, 2016).

Indeed, to the rest of the world, “the U.S. citizens’ choice to elect Donald Trump seems like a death sentence” (Chemnick, 2016). We must now support the efforts of Blockadia (Martin & Fruhwirth, 2013) and stand in solidarity with indigenous nations and migrants in the fight against climate chaos (Out of the Woods, 2015; Bosworth, 2016). Climate change is not just a sociogenic process – it is violence:

“That’s a tired phrase, the destruction of the Earth, but translate it into the face of a starving child and a barren field – and then multiply that a few million times. Or just picture the tiny bivalves: scallops, oysters, Arctic sea snails that can’t form shells in acidifying oceans right now. Or another superstorm tearing apart another city. Climate change is global-scale violence, against places and species as well as against human beings. Once we call it by name, we can start having a real conversation about our priorities and values. Because the revolt against brutality begins with a revolt against the language that hides that brutality.” (Solnit, 2014)

With that in mind, we must contend with the fact that this is not just something “on a list of things to worry about” – in order to prevent climate chaos in the new right-wing political landscape “we have to remake the world, and we have to talk about it” (Battistoni, 2012).

References

Adler, B. (2015). 8 things you need to know about Hillary Clinton and climate change http://grist.org/climate-energy/8-things-you-need-to-know-about-hillary-clinton-and-climate-change/. Accessed 8th November 2016

Battistoni, A. (2012). The Flood Next Time https://www.jacobinmag.com/2012/12/the-flood-next-time/. Accessed 9th November 2016

Bosworth, K. (2016). Voices Against the Pipeline — “Five Lessons from Pipeline Struggles” http://nobakken.com/2016/09/05/voices-against-the-pipeline-five-lessons-from-pipeline-struggles-by-kai-bosworth/. Accessed 9th November 2016

Chemnick, J. (2016). No Plan B at Climate Talks, Given Trump Win https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/no-plan-b-at-climate-talks-given-trump-win/. Accessed 9th November 2016

Coleman, J. (2016). Hillary Clinton’s Connections to the Oil and Gas Industry http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/campaign-updates/hillary-clintons-connection-oil-gas-industry/. Accessed 8th November 2016

Cousins, F. (2016). Hillary Clinton Is Raking In Fossil Fuel Money At An Alarming Rate http://www.desmogblog.com/2016/09/07/hillary-clinton-raking-fossil-fuel-money-alarming-rate. Accessed 8th November 2016

Harder, A., Mullins, B. (2016). Hillary Clinton Raises More Than Donald Trump From Oil Industry http://www.wsj.com/articles/so-far-hillary-clinton-raises-more-than-donald-trump-from-oil-industry-1473190849. Accessed 8th November 2016.

Hausfather, Z. (2016). Is Natural Gas a Bridge Fuel? http://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2016/08/is-natural-gas-a-bridge-fuel/. Accessed 8th November 2016

Kahn, B. (2016). The world passes 400ppm carbon dioxide threshold. Permanently https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/28/the-world-passes-400ppm-carbon-dioxide-threshold-permanently. Accessed 8th November 2016

Martin, M. J., Fruhwirth, J. (2013). Welcome to Blockadia! http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/welcome-to-blockadia-enbridge-transcanada-tar-sands. Accessed 9th November 2016

McJeon, H., Edmonds, J., Bauer, N. Clarke, L., Fisher, B., Flannery, B. P., Hilaire, J., Krey, V., Marangoni, G., Mi, R., Riahi, K., Rogner, H., Tavoni, M. (2014). Limited impact on decadal-scale climate change from increased use of natural gas. Nature 514, 482-485

McKibben, B. (2016). The Climate Movement Has to Elect Hillary Clinton—and Then Give Her Hell https://www.thenation.com/article/the-climate-movement-has-to-elect-hillary-clinton-and-then-give-her-hell/. Accessed 9th November 2016

Mufson, S., Dennis. B. (2016). Trump victory reverses U.S. energy and environmental priorities https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/11/09/trump-victory-reverses-u-s-energy-and-environmental-priorities/. Accessed 9th November 2016

Norton, B. (2016). Leaked email: Hillary Clinton told “radical environmentalists” to “get a life,” defended fracking and pipelines http://www.salon.com/2016/10/18/leaked-email-hillary-clinton-told-radical-environmentalists-to-get-a-life-defended-fracking-and-pipelines/. Accessed 8th November 2016

Ortega, O. (2016). Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/10/24/clintons-troubling-silence-on-the-dakota-access-pipeline/. Accessed 9th November 2016

Out of the Woods (2015). 6 Ways to Fight Climate Chaos http://novaramedia.com/2015/05/30/6-ways-to-fight-climate-chaos/. Accessed 9th November 2016

Papenfuss, M. (2016). Climate change poses major national security risk to US, warn military experts http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/climate-change-poses-major-national-security-risk-us-warn-military-experts-1581419. Accessed 9th November 2016

Plumer, B. (2016). There’s no way around it: Donald Trump is going to be a disaster for the planet http://www.vox.com/2016/11/9/13571318/donald-trump-disaster-climate. Accessed 9th November 2016

Snyder, C. W. (2016). Evolution of global temperature over the past two million years. Nature 538, 226-228.

Solnit, R. (2014). Call climate change what it is: violence https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/07/climate-change-violence-occupy-earth. Accessed 9th November 2016

Sutter, J. D. (2016). Hurricane Matthew looks a lot like the future of climate change http://edition.cnn.com/2016/10/07/opinions/sutter-hurricane-matthew-climate-change/index.html Accessed 8th November 2016

Tweed, K. (2016). Leaked Clinton Emails Mention Climate Change More Than Obamacare http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Leaked-Clinton-Emails-Mention-Climate-Change-More-Than-Obamacare. Accessed 8th November 2016

Worland, J. (2016). Donald Trump’s Victory Could Mean Disaster for the Planet http://time.com/4564224/donald-trump-climate-change/. Accessed 9th November 2016

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