The renowned American linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky has warned the US Republican party is now “the most dangerous organisation in world history” because of the denial of climate change by President-elect Donald Trump and other leading figures.
Following the US elections, Professor Chomsky said it appeared humans planned to answer what he called “the most important question in their history … by accelerating the race to disaster”.
Mr Trump has already appointed a prominent climate change denier to run his transition team covering the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other advisers include people with close links to the fossil fuel industry.
He has also pledged to scrap the United States’ ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which President Barack Obama has hailed as “the moment that we finally decided to save our planet”.
Leading climate scientists have expressed dismay and concern about Mr Trump’s election, suggesting it could be an “unmitigated disaster for the planet”.
Speaking to the Truthout website, Professor Chomsky pointed to a report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which said the past five years had been the hottest on record and reported rising sea levels, unexpectedly rapid melting of ice and other effects of climate change.
The election on 8 November had given the Republicans total control of the US government and this meant they had now become "the most dangerous organisation in world history”, he said.
“The last phrase may seem outlandish, even outrageous. But is it? The facts suggest otherwise. The party is dedicated to racing as rapidly as possible to destruction of organised human life. There is no historical precedent for such a stand,” Professor Chomsky said.
“It is hard to find words to capture the fact that humans are facing the most important question in their history — whether organised human life will survive in anything like the form we know — and are answering it by accelerating the race to disaster.”
He dismissed the idea that this might be an exaggeration.
“During the Republican primaries, every candidate denied that what is happening is happening—with the exception of the sensible moderates, like Jeb Bush, who said it's all uncertain, but we don't have to do anything because we're producing more natural gas, thanks to fracking,” Professor Chomsky said.
“Or John Kasich, who agreed that global warming is taking place, but added that ‘we are going to burn [coal] in Ohio and we are not going to apologise for it’.
“The winning candidate, now the President-elect, calls for rapid increase in use of fossil fuels, including coal; dismantling of regulations; rejection of help to developing countries that are seeking to move to sustainable energy; and in general, racing to the cliff as fast as possible.”
The financial markets had “reacted quickly” to such talk.
“Shares in energy corporations boomed, including the world's largest coal miner, Peabody Energy, which had filed for bankruptcy, but after Trump's victory, registered a 50 per cent gain,” Professor Chomsky said.
Tens of millions of people living in Bangladesh alone are expected to lose their homes to the rising sea over the coming decades.
Professor Chomsky said a leading scientist there had suggested “with considerable justice” that the climate refugees should have the right to move to countries responsible for the greenhouse gases that had created the problem.
“These catastrophic consequences can only increase, not just in Bangladesh, but in all of South Asia as temperatures, already intolerable for the poor, inexorably rise and the Himalayan glaciers melt, threatening the entire water supply,” he said.
“Already in India, some 300 million people are reported to lack adequate drinking water. And the effects will reach far beyond.”
Professor Chomsky said he could hardly believe climate change had been so little discussed during the election campaign.
“It is no less difficult to find words to capture the utterly astonishing fact that in all of the massive coverage of the electoral extravaganza, none of this receives more than passing mention,” he said. “At least I am at a loss to find appropriate words.”
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