All Indicators Have Gotten A LOT Worse

For the past four years, the Trump Administration has tied the hands of the scientific community and disavowed any interest in addressing climate. He and his lackeys removed references to “climate” from government reports, documents and websites and clamped down hard on the nation’s experts who were in a position to speak out about the problems.  Even so, the data speaks for itself and he could not legally demand that scientists pervert the data, although he installed appointees at the heads of departments who did endeavor to distort or censor reports coming out.

Accordingly, the U.S. and the world has lost another four years in efforts to address climate change and we are failing miserably.  It is not clear if we will be able to get control over our emissions before the impacts of the heat-forcing from heat being trapped within our atmosphere causes serious and potentially catastrophic change. Below, we are providing grades to a range of actors and groups who are involved with a working towards solving this problem or, in some cases, preventing solutions.


President Donald Trump

Basis for Performance Grade

Donald Trump, real estate developer with multiple bankruptcies, reality TV actor and womanizer, consistently denied the validity of scientific concerns around climate change.  (Note: Trump also denied the validity of scientific concerns around Covid-19, thereby allowing some 300,000,000 American citizens to perish). It is widely believed that he denied climate change because he benefitted from the political support of executives from fossil fuel corporations as well as those, like Vladimir Putin, whose interests are enriched by the continued sales of oil, gas and coal, the main cause of climate change.



US Senate

Basis for Performance Grade

The US Senate, under the “leadership” of Mitch McConnell steadfastly refused to take up consideration of any of the legislation that was passed the the House, especially after the Democrats won back control in 2018.  Prior to 2018, the House and Senate both passed, and Trump signed, two pieces of very important legislation, namely NEIMA and NEICA, both of which support innovations in nuclear energy but efforts to enact a price on carbon were unable to even get taken up by the Senate.


US House of Representatives

Basis for Performance Grade

Members of the House of Representatives wrote and sought support for numerous pieces of legislation that could address climate change relating to clean energy, taxing carbon emissions and developing cap and trade systems.  Most successful and popular of these bills was HR 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which had 86 co-sponsors supporting it at the end of the 119th Congress.  Unfortunately, Majority Leader McConnell refused to take up consideration of this bill nor any other proposals for addressing carbon emissions, despite the fact that many Republicans had publicly come out with support for HR 763 as a revenue-neutral mechanism that properly placed the burden for externalized emissions on those companies responsible for the majority of emissions. The House worked very hard on dozens of bills but the Senate failed to partner with them to see legislation passed.


Leading Climate Scientists

Basis for Performance Grade

Despite a growing level of hostility, backlash and even death threats from members of the goonsquad that worshipped Donald Trump, climate scientists such as Dr. James Hansen, Michael Mann, Ken Caldeira, Chris Field and many others maintained their positions and reinforced assertions that the climate is starting to spin out of control and that we must do everything we can to eliminate emissions.  Importantly, the IPCC confirmed for everyone that emissions must be reduced by 50% by 2030 and by almost 100% by 2050, if we want to have a hope of saving coral reefs and keeping global temperature to below 2 degrees C. The 4th National Climate Assessment was also released confirming these findings.  Broadly, the world’s leading climate scientists called on the world’s political leaders to use every means available—including both preserving existing nuclear power and adding more nuclear power—alongside renewables and other means to reduce emissiosn ASAP.


Democratic Party Leaders

Basis for Performance Grade

Although they sounded a lot like climate champions, Democratic leadership in many states played politics with the climate by seeking to appease progressives and still maintain their very lucrative and important donor relationships with fossil fuels. Both Governor Cuomo of New York and Governor Brown of California were able to speak out of both sides of their mouths in supporting the expansion of renewables—to the delight of progressives—yet paving the way for rapid expansions of natural gas. Neither of these leaders showed any real understanding of the severity of the crisis and both took actions that have caused or will cause huge increases in emissions in both states: the worked to shutter existing nuclear power plants.  This is not because they didn’t know that it is entirely the wrong direction to go. Rather, it is because for each it was “no brainer” political win since shuttering a nuclear power plant tops the wish list of the fossil fuel industry which is desperate to increase demand for natural gas and, at the same time, is a long-awaited goal for many old-school progressives who still equate nuclear power with nuclear bombs.


Republican Party Leaders

Basis for Performance Grade

Republican leadership in the states were large cowed by Trump into willfully denying or ignoring climate change as an issue. While some adopted more ambitious clean energy goals because of legislation passed in those state, most preferred to simply side-step the issue, much like the way they opted to avoid taking pro-active steps to protect their citizens from Covid-19, largely because of the degree to which Trump managed to politicize the issue. While no Republican leaders stepped up to show climate leadership or affirm that their support of climate action, Republican Governor as a whole lent their support for the struggling nuclear power plants in their states. Ironically, Governor Cuomo, a Democrat, acts more like a Republican when dealing with upstate New York politics, where the majority of New York’s Republicans are. There, he bent over backwards to help save three nuclear power plants, which were beloved employers in the upstate region but at risk of closure because of cheap natural gas prices, so he provided them with a Zero Emission Credit that would help them whenever the price of gas fell below a certain level.  Despite that, he served his natural gas and progressive donors in the downstate area by refusing to allow the ZECs to apply to Indian Point, forcing its early closure.