Climate Activist Frustration: Nobody is Paying for Our Free Lunch
Guest essay by Eric Worrall
From Mozambique to the Caribbean, green groups used to easy money from Obama are expressing frustration that President Trump is cancelling their global warming funding.
Trump’s Cuts In Climate-Change Research Spark a Global Scramble For Funds
By Natalie Meade
During Barack Obama’s final year in office, his Administration launched an ambitious, twenty-five-million-dollar partnership with a little-known research organization in Belize called the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. The goal of the program was to study climate change in the Caribbean and develop strategies to minimize its impact. Scientists consider the region one of the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change; rising sea levels, coral-reef bleaching, and drought threaten the infrastructure and economic health of the Caribbean’s forty-four million people, many of whom depend on tourism and agriculture for their well-being. “Our area is one of the most exposed to risks,” Zadie Neufville, a spokesperson for the Centre, told me, in an interview in her office, in Belmopan. “In order to live here comfortably and host tourists, we have to mitigate, build resilience, and adapt.”
After the 2016 Presidential election, the Trump Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress reduced U.S. support for climate-change-related research, causing the Centre’s program and similar initiatives around the world to scramble for funding. A U.S.A.I.D. official told me that American funding for the Centre’s project will end in 2019, instead of in 2020, because of a change in “the Administration’s foreign-policy and national-security priorities.”
In Africa, the Trump Administration has moved to eliminate all funding for climate-related or environmental projects across the continent, including in Senegal, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. Indonesia is one of the largest carbon emitters in the world, and, in 2017, U.S.A.I.D. planned to spend $23.3 million on environmental projects there, including a reforestation project designed to control carbon emissions. Only seven million dollars has been allotted to the country in Trump’s 2019 budget proposal. “Across the board, there has been a rollback on federal climate-change investments as a result of executive direction,” Kit Batten, a former U.S.A.I.D. climate-change coördinator, told me.
Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris accord has also fuelled uncertainty in developed countries that export fossil fuels regarding how much to invest in renewable energy. “The Republicans seem to have an antipathy towards anything that seems it would challenge the ability of the U.S. and other countries to export fossil fuels,” an official familiar with the conversations told me.
Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1st, and researchers fear a repeat of last summer: extreme storms with little planning on how to mitigate their impact. “It’s a source of frustration for a lot of people,” a former U.S.A.I.D. adviser told me. “The money flows into the countries for a disaster, and, as soon as the disaster’s over, it will completely disappear with no prep work for the next one.” Climate change in the Caribbean will eventually have a direct impact on the United States, he argued. When large hurricanes occur, many victims in the West Indies flee to the nearest country with the most stable conditions, which is often the United States. “This is a problem for the U.S.—migration,” Trotz told me. “The issue, basically, is a hemispheric problem that we have to be careful about.”
What really gets me is the sheer arrogance. The money flows in for the disaster then stops, and they complain. They think US should just keep giving them a free lunch indefinitely.
There are US citizens living with insane levels of poverty. In one part of Alabama, 34% of those tested were infected or had recently been infected with hookworm. People infected with hookworm can’t just go out and get a job, because the infection makes them listless and anaemic – hookworm literally drains their blood, severely impairs their ability to do things most of us would consider normal. Even people who aren’t infected are affected – infected children are particularly vulnerable to the debilitating effects of hookworm. Although hookworm is fairly easy to treat, hookworm eggs are endemic in the area – reinfection is a constant serious risk.
These are the sort of people who really could use a little help, US citizens living in the USA suffering with desperate problems they’re struggling to address by themselves, not ungrateful greens running expensive foreign climate “centers” who took their free lunch for granted under former President Obama.
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