Destroy the machines that kill the forests, that disfigure the earth

Trump signed the long-awaited order dismantling Obama’s rather prodigious attempts at combating climate change. It’s bad:

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump will sign an executive order that will demolish his predecessor’s attempts to slow the pace of climate change. It is an omnibus directive that strikes across the federal government, reversing major rules that aim to restrict greenhouse-gas emissions while simultaneously instructing departments to ignore or downplay the risks of climate change in their decision-making.

As details of the order leaked to the public, nearly every environmental or climate-centric group castigated it as a costly step backward. Andrew Steer, the president and CEO of the World Resources Institute, said that the administration was “taking a sledgehammer to U.S. climate action.”

There is a lot going on in the order: Months of rumored environmental action have been distilled into this document. Its policy goals can be separated into two categories. First, some policies require rule-making processes that Trump can only set in motion and point toward certain goals. The second group of policies are just executive directives reserved to the president. Trump can issue them by himself, just as Obama did, and they will enter force immediately.

This will surely be fought by many groups and organizations that have been fighting for years. But what will they do when legal means fail? I’m pretty sure I know the answer – they’ll continue utilizing the same means, but perhaps tweaked a bit here and there. The decades-long losing battle will go on. Others see the writing on the wall, have judged that economic interests and the state will forever be against the wild, and have dispensed with lawful methods:

With the Dakota Access Pipeline nearly ready to start operation, the company that runs it says the 1,172-mile long oil pipe has been vandalized in several places.

In a court-ordered status report filed Monday, attorneys for Dakota Access write there have been “recent coordinated physical attacks … that pose threats to life, physical safety, and the environment.”

Aw, Dakota Access cares so much about life, safety and the environment! Obviously that’s what it’s about, rather than the costs to repair and general annoyance. (I should note that “physical attacks” performed after the pipeline starts running would indeed be irresponsible, shitty and harmful to the extent that it could cause a spill)

The blog title is taken from the lyrics of a song that’s over 20 years old. Sadly, it’s just as relevant now as it was then, if not more so. Legal means can take years to yield the most modest of results, and Obama’s efforts were only mildly encouraging (to me anyways) and seemingly swept away with the stroke of a pen. Regardless, species are going extinct; forests are being cut down; land is being transformed to accommodate urban sprawl; mountains are despoiled; streams are polluted; and climate change is no closer to being mitigated (not going to provide a link for that and the others are a bit superfluous). At what point is it too late?

Though perhaps not a universal salve, or one that can ever really work on a large scale, direct action is one tool that can be used to

halt the insanity of the yellow death machines advance.

Maybe we’ll see a bit more of it.


  1. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Just a note to make it clear: Practically speaking, cutting down trees for use of the wood itself is a rather small portion of deforestation. Over half of deforestation is to gain more farmland and grazing land. Further, the United States and most industrialized nations do not have a large-scale deforestation problem.


    Mostly deforestation has occurred in the temperate and sub-tropical areas. Deforestation is no longer significant in the developed temperate countries now and in fact many temperate countries now are recording increases in forest area (Anon., 1990 a; 2010).

    About 60 per cent of the clearing of tropical moist forests is for agricultural settlement (Myers, 1994; Anon., 1991) with logging and other reasons like roads, urbanization and Fuelwood accounting for the rest (Anon., 1994 b). Tropical forests are on e of the last frontiers in the search for subsistence land for the most vulnerable people worldwide (Myers, 1992). Millions of people live on the tropical forest with less than a dollar a day where a third of a billion are estimated to be foreign settlers. However, as the land degrades people are forced to migrate, exploring new forest frontiers increasing deforestation (Wilkie et al., 2000; Amor, 2008; Amor and Pfaff, 2008). Deforestation is proxied by the expansion of agricultural land. This is because agricultural land expansion is generally viewed as the main source of deforestation contributing around 60 per cent of total tropical deforestation.

    Generally speaking, except for CO2 emissions, the industrialized nations do much better by the environment than developing and poor nations. That’s because they are rich and have lots of excess energy and labor in order to pass environmental protection laws.

    We also need to halt and reverse world population growth. To do that, we simply need to raise people out of poverty worldwide, and give them an industrial standard of living. Most of the industrialized world is already experiencing negative population growth when immigration is excluded and increased life spans are accounted for. We simply need to do that for the rest of the world, in a responsible way, as soon as possible.

    Thus, in conjunction, the solution to the environmental problems of the world, and many other moral problems, are obvious: Get everyone lots of affordable, clean, sustainable energy, and raise them to a western industrial standard of living, and emancipate women worldwide and give them access to condoms and other contraception.

    • says

      I think you overuse the word “simply.” I also wouldn’t agree that raising everyone to a “western industrial standard of living” is desirable. That’s a hell of a lot more resource usage and I think it would be bad. Regardless, I don’t expect to see that in my lifetime so we’ll never really know.

      • EnlightenmentLiberal says

        If you don’t raise people out of poverty, they won’t have the resources to protect the environment, and their populations are going to rise out of control.

        Regardless, this is mostly academic. The world population is predicted to stop growing around 10 or 11 billion people, and that’s because the world is industrializing. They are using coal, and they’re going to continue to use coal, unless we offer something that is cost competitive. It’s practically an insurmountable fiat problem.