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Trump voters just pulled the life support plug on America’s Delta

Cartoon by Rick McKee Augusta Chronicle

Cartoon by Rick McKee Augusta Chronicl


Louisiana’s comprehensive coastal master plan, currently under revision, should include a disclaimer on page one asserting that, unless global carbon emissions are effectively reduced within the next 20 years or so, the plan cannot succeed.

The Trump philosophy, which jettisons measures to reduce climate change, will impact our red coast, as well as both blue coasts inhabited by all those ‘elitist’ Hillary-supporters. Each and every Trump voter in Louisiana will share the blame for a predictable Trump tidal wave.

by Len Bahr, Ph.D.

I’m truly an anachronism – an old liberal white guy of modest means who’s extremely disappointed in the outcome of the POTUS election. I’m particularly distressed that the election outcome will likely put an end to significant recent global progress on climate change.

I’ve always considered myself fortunate in having been raised by parents who encouraged my academic interests in a setting near the politically Blue Coast of Maryland that specifically inspired a lifelong interest in coastal ecology. Now I’m wondering whether a life spent pursuing creature comforts rather than studying the function of nature would have allowed me to deal with what just happened with the equanimity of ignorance.

For 43 years I’ve lived and worked in the politically Red Coast of South Louisiana as a scientist and technical advisor. Although much of my knowledge base was established further north and east, my training transcends latitude, longitude –  and presumably politics. To my consternation, the 2016 election cycle seems to have sacrificed objective science on the altar of subjective partisan ideology.

Those of us who care about the future of our coast struggle not only with a delta disconnected from its mighty Mississippi riverine creator but with elected officials who view the opinions of scientists as a threat to Louisiana’s oil-based economy. Warnings from authorities on climate change are blatantly dismissed by the Louisiana GOP congressional delegation, including our most senior member, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. He uses pejorative terms far less poetic than the infamous nattering nabobs of negativism coined by the late VP, convicted felon, and fellow Marylander Spiro T. Agnew. Here’s a telling November 12 position statement by Congressman Scalise on energy policy and climate change:

For too long, families across the nation have suffered under the Obama Administration’s destructive energy policies and radical climate change agenda. It is clear that America needs a change in course, and I couldn’t be more excited to work with President-elect Donald Trump to get our country and our economy back on track. We can start by getting rid of job-killing energy regulations so we can rebuild the middle class and create thousands of good-paying jobs by unleashing America’s energy potential.

As a nation, we have been blessed with an abundance of energy resources. Maximizing our energy potential creates jobs, strengthens our national security and increases our energy independence. Americans know that we cannot achieve energy security by continuing President Obama’s job-killing agenda, and I look forward to working with President-elect Trump and my colleagues in Congress to create more jobs and opportunities for the hardworking families of Louisiana and America.
It is an honor to represent you in Congress. For more information please visit my website, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages.

I notice that economists and oil and gas shills like Lauren Scott have been silent about Trump’s pledge to maximize the production of Americas fossil fuel reserves. I’m very curious how this plan could possibly benefit oil patch workers and coal miners in the red states of Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Alaska, West Virginia, and Kentucky, who have been laid off because of an already glutted energy market. Nevertheless, these folks turned out in droves to support Trump.

We harbingers of climate change are viewed by members of the Trump camp as elitist snobs who cook the data books to confirm our ridiculously gloomy convictions.

Upon opening my eyes at 7:30 AM on November 9th and realizing that what I remembered before turning in six hours earlier had not been a nightmare, I flashed on the coastal implications of a Trump administration so strikingly bereft of curiosity and basic scientific knowledge.

During the excruciating presidential campaign I had been astonished and disheartened by the fact that climate change was virtually ignored by the media and the debate moderators, even though, as documentarian Michael Moore posted on“…You live in a country where a majority of citizens have said they believe there’s climate change…”

A growing number of post-election articles about the implications of the prospective Trump administration on the issue of global warming include the following examples:

Graphic by Andrea Gavin, climate

Graphic by Gavin Schmidt NASA/NOAA

Will Oremus described Trump’s global impacts in Robinson Mayer provided his perspective in noted that Trump is considering appointing Myron Ebell, a climate change skeptic, to redesign EPA. Nick Visser reported in on the reaction of world environmental leaders to Trump’s election. Andrea Thompson at reported on the reactions of top climate experts. Here’s another HuffPost article by Max Greenwood and still another by Zoe Carpenter in HuffPost published a report by Alexander C. Kaufman, noting widespread glee among anti-regulatory oil industry reps. published an AP article by Jason Dearen. An article in by Alex Guillen, Elana Schor, Esther Whieldon, and Eric Wolff. Rounding out this list is a interview with Bill McKibben by Julie Laurie, one of the more succinct and useful summaries of the implications on climate change of the Trump takeover. In reviewing these comments I noted that Mike Pence, our VP elect, is a young earth creationist, just like former Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, who may also have  a shot at a cabinet post.

If Trump proceeds to remove Obama’s barely-dry signatures from the already fragile international agreements on reducing global carbon emissions, our highly touted delta restoration program cannot succeed against rising sea levels. In other words, our Red Coast will be toast.

Finally, the climate change deniers in Louisiana who supported the Donald in this election must share the blame when the Trump Tsunami targets our tragic coast. These folks should forever forfeit their claim to care about America’s Delta.

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  1. Obviously the issues which drove the election of Trump are not understood by many. Especially the climate change gurus. I voted for Trump because I don’t support abortion, especially partial birth abortions. Don’t y’all think that life is more important than the future determined by a computer model. Do any of you believe in God? Can anyone tell me when the next asteroid will hit the earth? Shame on Killary supporters.

  2. Walt Sikora says:

    Actually it was Willam Safire a former Nixon speechwriter who come up with the phrase: “Safire is still remembered some 40 years later for the words that he put in the mouth of a previously inarticulate and later disgraced vice president, Spiro Agnew, and for one phrase in particular:”Nattering nabobs of negativism.” (quote from Website of Philadelphia Inquirer “William Safire, ‘nattering nabobs” and the power of words” Sept 27, 2009)

    Wasn’t Spiro Agnew once governor of that wonderful, “polically Blue Coast of Maryland”, born in Baltimore and once Baltimore County Executive?

    On the climate warming front, I don’t seem to remember Crown Princess Hillary having much to say about the impending climate change crisis either. You don’t suppose that “Clinton’s ranks of elite fundraisers [that] incude[d] 201 people who work in the securities and investment sector and dozens more who work in other areas of finance and commercial banking, according to a tally by the Center for Responsive Politics and USA TODAY”* had anything to do with her lack of attention to anthropongenic global warming, do you? (Incidentally, “Clinton’s 1,370 fundraisers — dubbed “Hillblazers” by the campaign — have bundled together at least $137million from their friends, family members and business associates…”)*
    “Billionaire hedge-fund manager S. Donald Sussman has donated $19million to the PAC, Prioities USA Action”* — NOTE:This committee is a single-candidate super PAC in support of Hillary Clinton (D).

    * quotes from the article headlined “Wall Street, lawyers dominate Clinton’s fundraising — ‘Hillblazers’ bundled $137M for her bid”, page 1 USA TODAY October 26, 2016.

    • Walter-
      Au contraire. Hillary brought up climate change during one of the three debates, without being queried by a moderator and she consistently mentioned ACC as an existential threat during the campaign. The ‘liberal’ media thought her email accounts were more important than global warming, by far the largest threat to humanity. Keep in mind that both Bernie Sanders and Al Gore endorsed Clinton, partly because of her position on climate change.
      Since you apparently voted against her I hope you’re happy with Trump’s choices for EPA administrator and secretaries of energy and interior.
      As for Spiro T. Agnew, I’m proud to report that my left wing mother turned away a couple state officials at our front door who wanted to commission my father to paint Agnew’s portrait for the Maryland state house in Annapolis.
      After Nov. 8 I’d happily compare the perception of the average voter in my home state to his/her counterpart here in Louisiana or in Georgia where you live.

      • Walt Sikora says:

        Au contraire youself, my former colleague, I held my nose shut, clinched my teeth and did my duty and voted for devious Hillary whom the dim-whitted Democrats were so sure would be elected the first female president that they discouraged all other possible contenders. Except of course, for the fact that they couldn’t get to that old independent stalwart Bernie Sanders. So then, they “rigged” the primaries to the extent that the chairwoman of the Democrat Party had to resign in disgrace. Disgraceful indeed.

        So why didn’t Hillary beat Trump over the head more about global warming? Could it be because her own financial backers would be displeased? She is now blaming Comey for her defeat, but it wasn’t the emails per se, nor the ‘liberal’ media, but rather it was actually her deviousness about them.

        So don’t be making wild assumptions that I voted for the Trumpinstein monster, and further, just like a typical liberal, you always try to put the blame on anyone who doesn’t agree with your own self-righteous liberal precepts, and character assessments. What gives you the audacity to say “I hope you’re happy with Trump’s choices for EPA administrator and secretaries of energy and interior.”? Obviously, your liberal self-righteousness is showing. I am not in anyway happy about that turn of events.

        The real reason Trumpinstein won, is that he appealed to a general backlash of the American voter to the fuzzy-thinking liberal overreach which can be summed up under the half-baked ideology called political correctness. In addition, there is the fact that far too many people in the “rust belt” had lost their jobs, income and self-respect while the Democrats abandoned them and instead wooed minorities, immigrants, and even Muslims. Too many people where ticked-off with the status quo, face it my liberal friend.

        By the way, why do you presume that I would attempt to defend the mindset of the average voter in the all-red (and redneck) state of Georgia? Athens-Clarke County is a small, very blue island that voted overwhelmingly Democrat in the midst of a very red sea.

  3. “. . . unless global carbon emissions are effectively reduced within the next 20 years or so, the plan cannot succeed.”

    Aren’t you taking for granted that if those emissions are reduced the plan can succeed? What if the plan can’t work regardless of sea level rise? What if there’s so much rise already “baked in” that even starting emissions reductions this very day can’t reverse a meter of rise by 2100? What if this red coast will keep sinking no matter what we do with emissions or diversions?

    • Anonymous-
      As I’ve stated many times in this blog I have grave doubts about the success of the coastal restoration program, let alone the coastal ‘protection’ and restoration program that replaced it following Katrina. Nevertheless I support what is admittedly a daunting experiment in ecological – and social engineering.
      My definition of success is far more modest than envisioned in the 2012 master plan, however. I hope for the persistence through the 21st century of at least a functional vestige of America’s Delta for my daughter, grandson, stepchildren and grandchildren to enjoy. By that time I hope that global human population will have begun a gradual non-traumatic descent to a level that is sustainable on renewable energy.
      In the long run nature will out of course.

      • There seems to be a serious and legit dispute as to the subsidence rate by area along our coast. The complaint is that the areas being averaged are too large; too few polygons. More polygons taking in smaller areas would, so the complaint goes, show some small areas of land gain, many stable areas of no change, with a few “hot spots” of rapid loss/high sink. KPLC in Lake Charles had a story a few days back that the next update of the USGS land change map will be out in a few weeks. Perhaps that will help settle that dispute. (My gut feel is that the compliant is correct.)

        Almost 3 years ago an LSU professor was on a panel at the Tulane Law Clinic, arguing that “coastal restoration is denial of climate change.” If the ACC folks are correct, our red coast is past the point of recovery no matter what Trump fails to do and no matter what Hillary would have done.

        As far as Trump’s changes go, we’ve had a years-long debate on the needs to elect her and to respond to the threat of runaway glacial melt. In both cases everybody had a say and the voters choose to reject both appeals.

        Or maybe Trump will go on TV with a “Fooled you!” speech and promise to be Obama’s third term. (sarc off)

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