The incoming presidential team made a recent inquiry into the Department of Energy, requesting information on individuals involved in climate research. This was taken as indication of a potential purge of personnel who might support an energy policy that assumes man-made climate change is real (as do the overwhelming majority of climate experts in the world). The Trump transition team claims the letter was not authorized, but some Democrats in congress believe further investigation is warranted.
But, what would be the benefit of removing people who accept the reality of climate data?
President-Elect Trump has long claimed that science indicating the reality of climate change is a hoax, claiming at one point that the Chinese were specifically behind it all for their own nefarious purposes. Is it possible that the man is simply that obtuse; that he can’t recognize realities of data provided by experts? Maybe, but it is more likely linked to potential financial interests. The science of climate change necessitates a movement away from traditional fossil fuels, but fossil fuels are incredibly lucrative for individuals and corporations around the globe. This makes climate science indicating the culpability of the byproducts of fossil fuels in environmental changes potentially costly.
Why does this matter to President-Elect Trump?
While Trump’s position has fluctuated somewhat at certain points, he has fairly consistently maintained that concern over climate change put the US at a “competitive disadvantage.” The heart of his concern, then, is economic. There are his own personal interests in the US oil and gas segment, and of course the interests of certain key advisors. Regardless of what President-Elect Trump may or may not actually believe with respect to actual climate science data, his choices on energy policy will have more to do with short-term profitability than long-term sustainability.
This is a long way from surprising. This represents just one of myriad conflicts of interest for Mr. Trump in his role as POTUS. While there has been talk of some divestiture, indications based on cabinet selections and stated policy positions lead us to believe that Mr. Trump’s primary concern will remain profitability for his and his cronies’ businesses while in office. This is a dangerous, and possibly illegal, way to execute the duties of the office upon which he is preparing to enter.