Donald Trump’s 13-month tenure (so far) as president of the United States has been an exhausting sprint for onlookers concerned about the state of the global ecosystem and the fate of industrial civilization. Nearly every day begins with a new outrage — whether Trump’s gutting of the Environmental Protection Agency, his announcement of the US exit from the Paris climate accord, his selling off of national parks, his opening of coastal waters for offshore drilling, his easing of regulations on fracking, or his seeking subsidies for coal mining and coal power plants. Among my environmentalist friends and colleagues, “Trump fatigue” is a real and common ailment.
But much the same could be said for millions of citizens who are only peripherally interested in environmental issues. They awake each morning to read about the Stormy Daniels scandal, the Rob Porter scandal, the Anthony Scaramucci hiring/firing scandal, the Mike Flynn scandal, the James Comey firing scandal, the Tom Price scandal, the White House nepotism and security clearance scandal. The list could go on and on; who can possibly keep up?
The Tweeter-in-chief is monopolizing attention at a moment in history when there are plenty of other things we really should be attending to, including climate change, resource depletion, plastic pollution in the oceans, mass species extinction, the fate of US labor unions, racial and social injustice, and worsening economic inequality. These are the sorts of unaddressed problems that could cause even history’s “greatest” civilization to crack up. But the conversation never seems to get past Trump, who obdurately obstructs action on these issues while commanding everyone’s constant adoring or horrified attention through divisive words and actions.
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