Regardless of what you think of him, and as surreal as it may still seem to the vast majority of Earthlings, Donald Trump is really the new President of the United States, and by the look of things, the New Yorker is not just going to play pretend President, and his vision to “make America great again” – slogan of his presidential campaign (which was curiously originally used by 1980 Ronald Reagan’s campaign, him too a man from the entertainment world who became President of the United States – is, to say the least, radical.
Unorthodox, with the fallacy, arrogance and lack of sensibility of a spoilt child, accustomed to impose his will on his hierarchy, Trump does not exude wisdom, solidarity or complacency. And that, for both Americans and the rest of the world that is irreparably subject to the consequences of US policies and actions, is a serious headache.
In environmental terms, Trump is potentially the worst thing that could have happened to the planet. It is a very low blow in the already meagre hopes for concrete and tangible changes to safeguard the environment, and thus the future of humanity. At a time when environmentalists and developed countries such as the United States were still duelling over the agreement reached at the Paris COP in 2015, Donald Trump is elected after stating categorically that climate change is a hoax and promising his electorate to repeal all the measures taken by the previous government to address the problem. A tiny little setback.
However, last week Trump shared his federal budget proposal with the American people. As expected, military expenditures gained about 53 billion dollars – a sum he deemed necessary for America to go back to winning wars. Scary…
But guess where the 53 billion dollars come from? From all sides, experts say, except from defence programs. We Africans will be particularly affected by two budget cuts: the cut to the EPA, – its Environmental Protection Agency – that will affect the entire planet by weakening the monitoring, regulation and all the protection policies and mechanisms of one of the planet’s biggest polluters; and the cut to international aid, which despite representing only about 1% of the federal budget is expected to be drastic and dramatic for countries like Mozambique that benefit annually from hundreds of millions of US dollars of funding. The situation is so alarming that, according to CNN, last Tuesday hundreds of groups supporting the humanitarian work of the United Nations wrote a letter to members of the US Congress and Senate, calling for them to maintain their support to the UN and its Secretary General. The same news article pointed out that this political shift in the United States – notably the country that provides the most international aid – could not have come at a worse time, particularly given the serious problems of hunger in Southern Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia, where about 22 million people need urgent help; and, above all, due to the acute refugee crisis that the world is experiencing (the largest since World War II with more than 65 million displaced people) as a result of conflicts in countries such as Syria and Iraq.
To wrap it up, let’s revisit the phrase we underlined out a few paragraphs ago: “Trump is potentially the worst thing that could have happened to the planet.” The only caveat for this statement is the sad possibility that, in the next few years, his presidency – which is expected to be seriously environmentally damaging – may coincide and contribute to climatic events so extreme that they end up catapulting political will to adequately address and resolve the issue. Unfortunately, if that happens, the cost of running this hypothetical full cycle will be many millions of lives.