Project 2025 is GOPers’ blueprint for destroying the planet. It must be stopped.
It sounds insane: In a summer of 110-degree heat waves and killer floods, GOPers draft a 2025 scheme to end all action on climate change.
Chill out, America. Midway through the long, hot summer of 2023 — with the human-made furnace of fossil fuel pollution turning up the knobs on 110-degree-plus heat in Phoenix, killer floods just north of Philadelphia, and suffocating smoke from uncontrollable fires in Canada — the Washington Post has published an answer to the climate crisis.
It can be summed up in four words: Get. Used. To. It.
Under the helpful heading of “Climate Solutions,” the newspaper owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos wants you to know you can gradually adapt to the hottest recorded days in the history of Planet Earth, in Saturday’s piece headlined: “Your body can build up tolerance to heat. Here’s how.” The key source is a professor of physiology at Penn State — a university that (probably a coincidence) has drawn heat for its ties to the fossil fuel industry — who suggests going outside for longer and longer intervals. Voila! No need to come down hard on Big Oil and its billion-dollar profits, let alone stop driving your massive SUV. Just don’t trip — the sidewalk might send you to the burn unit!
This is not a serious “Climate Solution.” The article was widely mocked on The Social Media Site Formerly Known As Twitter and elsewhere, and rightfully so. And yet this wasn’t the worst approach to the world’s escalating climate crisis in the news last week — not by a long shot.
While you were turning up the air-conditioning or trying to find an open city pool, the brain trust of the conservative movement — including key officials of Donald Trump’s disastrous 2017-21 presidency — were spending $22 million to craft a 950-page plan called Project 2025 that (among other things) is a blueprint for unconditional surrender in the war on climate change. The scheme drafted by the Heritage Foundation and other think tanks that have guided GOP administrations since Ronald Reagan wouldn’t just halt the desperately needed transition to clean energy and electric cars, but restore the unchecked hegemony of burning fossil fuels.
While Trump’s 45th presidency was a disastrous pause button on climate action in the world’s largest economy, these proposed policies for a Trump 47th presidency, or a like-minded GOP POTUS, are a total rollback that go much, much deeper. Given 2023′s unmistakable jolts of an already-here planetary crisis from Antarctica to Sicily to Phoenix, Project 2025 sounds utterly insane for those of us living in the hotter, reality-based world.
Some specifics: Blocking the expansion of the electrical grid to accommodate clean energy sources like wind and solar. Eliminating three offices within the Department of Energy promoting the renewable power transition. Wiping out funding for environmental justice work in the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection. Massive growth of the natural gas infrastructure such as pipelines. Ensuring that no other states win approval for the kind of strict electric car guidelines being implemented in California. The EPA and other key agencies would be radically downsized and placed under the care of right-wing pro-fossil fuel zealots. It even includes restrictions on new scientific research.
The 350 or so ultraconservative thinkers and activists who’ve been toiling in quiet obscurity on Project 2025 and hope to implement it in the first 180 days of a Republican presidency beginning Jan. 20, 2025, are a rogues gallery of former Trump officials and Big Oil fanatics. They are advocates like Bernard McNamee, whom POTUS 45 had named to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission after a stint at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a think tank opposing climate action and as an adviser to Sen. Ted Cruz.
And these conservatives behind Project 2025 aren’t shy about touting the radical, reactionary nature of their environmental blueprint.
“Project 2025 is not a white paper. We are not tinkering at the edges. We are writing a battle plan, and we are marshaling our forces,” Paul Dans, the Project 2025 director with the Heritage Foundation, told Politico’s E&E News. “Never before has the whole conservative movement banded together to systematically prepare to take power day one and deconstruct the administrative state.”
Genevieve Guenther, a scientist who founded the organization End Climate Silence, agreed with one aspect of Project 2025 — that it is, indeed, a battle plan, and a wakeup call for people on the other side who want action on the warming planet. “The war being waged is against our children’s future, she posted on the former Twitter now known as X, adding: “Elections matter!”
Indeed. To anyone following the news, or with faith in science, Project 2025 would have sounded bat-guano crazy any time, but especially this past week — and not just because of the 30-plus consecutive days of 110-degree-plus temperatures in Phoenix or the shocking 101-degree ocean water temperature recorded off Florida.
In Antarctica, scientists are stunned at the extent of disappearing sea ice — directly linked to the world’s sea levels and likelihood of inundation of highly populated coastal cities — that has occurred even with the arrival of the Southern Hemisphere winter. “Unprecedented is a word that gets bandied around a lot, but it doesn’t really get to just how shocking this is,” said University of Tazmania sea ice scientist Will Hobbs. Meanwhile, other experts are debating evidence that the Atlantic Ocean currents, so central to regulating climate, could collapse because of the warming crisis, perhaps by mid-century or even as early as — irony alert — 2025.
Given the recent news, conservatives opposed to climate action seem to be backing away from their past positions that planetary warming isn’t happening — or at least that it’s not because of human pollution. The new line is that the weather is being used by “the deep state,” or “woke” liberal elites, to deprive everyday folks of their freedom. Even fact-free Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — once a brilliant environmental lawyer — has adopted this plank, tweeting that climate change has become an excuse for government “to control you through fear.”
This new radical libertarianism around climate is a threat to the planet, but not the only one. The cynical nihilism of the right’s Project 2025 could also be aided by what activists call “doomerism,” a sense of despair that climate action is too overwhelming or, increasingly, too late. “Many things that were once true — that we didn’t have adequate solutions, that the general public wasn’t aware or engaged — no longer are,” the essayist Rebecca Solnit argued last week. “Outdated information is misinformation, and the climate situation has changed a lot in recent years.”
Today, many top experts hail the rapid advances in clean energy and say that sustained action to reduce carbon pollution can still stave off the worst predicted impacts of climate change. Michael Mann, director of the Penn Center for Science, Sustainability and the Media, has generally praised the $369 billion for climate action in President Joe Biden’s 2022 Inflation Reduction Act and says it shows that serious policy changes are both possible and worthwhile.
Biden is also a politician, and he’s made some compromises — on things like offshore oil leases or an Appalachian pipeline deal — that are getting harder to defend as the climate crisis accelerates. Some young voters will be tempted to vote for an idealistic but unelectable candidate like the Green Party’s Cornel West, who has made ending fossil fuel use central to his campaign. West threatens to undo the left-wing unity that ousted Trump and elected Biden in 2020.
This didn’t seem possible, but awareness of Project 2025 should dramatically raise the stakes for November 2024. Not only is the future of U.S. democracy on the ballot, but also the very future of the planet, given America’s centrality to reducing global carbon pollution. Barring unforeseen events, the choice will be between Biden — who believes climate change is real and that government action can help — and the nihilistic greed of the Heritage Foundation and Team Trump. “Doomerism” can’t be an option, and neither is “getting used to it.” The extreme right has its “battle plan” for 2025. Does Planet Earth have an army to fight back?
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