The Case for Climate Change: Young People of the World v. Donald Trump

This past week, the Spirited Reasoner noted the stark contrast between the thoughtfulness of our world’s young people, led by Swedish 16-year-old, Greta Thunberg, and the mind-numbing spitefulness of our nation’s President, Donald Trump. While millions of children took to the streets to remind us of the fragile nature of this beautiful planet we all share, President Trump was asking federal agencies to invalidate California’s strict emission standards.

I recall living in Southern California during the early 1980s, before those emission controls were enacted. As I drove from San Diego to Los Angeles, I always knew when I had reached the borders of Orange County, because the horizon would turn from blue to brown, and I could taste the smog in the air.

Then, as if by magic, California’s clear-air regulations began to take effect. I can still recall the day when I was driving up to L.A. in 1988, suddenly realizing that the brown haze had vanished. At first, I thought the change was attributable to one of those rare atmospheric events—perhaps a southerly wind pushing all the smog out of the region for a few hours or so. But then it happened again. Another clear day!

Were the regulations really working?

Indeed, they were. And that’s why not only California, but dozens of other states adopted those same stricter standards.

To put the icing on the cake, a group of automakers issued statements of support for the California standards, promising to maintain the more climate-friendly exhaust systems.

President Trump’s response? To threaten lawsuits against those auto manufacturers, claiming they had committed “antitrust violations” by issuing similar statements.

Being Spirited Reasoners, we keep looking for a single valid reason why our President would advocate for dirty air at a time when our children are asking us to make the world a healthier place for their future. But alas, nothing comes to mind.

Surely American car manufacturers aren’t pleading with President Trump secretly in the background, claiming they are unable to match the engineering skills of foreign companies when it comes to making our cars the cleanest in the world.

Surely.