By Perry Diaz
As we bid the year 2020 goodbye with a sigh of relief knowing that 2021 can’t be worse than 2020, my apprehension remains the same. With more than 20 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 350,000 deaths and adding 3,000 every day to the death toll, I wonder when will this plague ever end? For one thing, with the departure of President Donald J. Trump on January 20, things will change for the better.
President-elect Joe Biden’s ascension to the presidency is already making a lot of people happy at the way he selected his cabinet members and other high-ranking officials. Thus far, he has nominated African-Americans, women, Latinos, Asian Americans, a Native American, and LGBT members to run his administration. Indeed, the incoming administration is going to reflect what America is made of, a multi-racial and multi-cultural conglomeration of people.
Among the nominees are people committed to climate change, starting with former Secretary of State John Kerry whom Biden nominated to a newly created cabinet position, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate with authority over energy policy and climate policy. He will be known as the “climate czar,” who will be responsible for climate change issues and to addressing the climate crisis as one affecting national security. Indeed, Kerry would be one of Biden’s most important appointees, as he will devote his time to reversing the damage that Trump has done to climate change.
It’s a known fact that Trump does not believe in climate change and global warming, which is causing a lot of environmental damage. In particular, the thawing of the Arctic and Antarctic poles would cause the sea level to rise 200 feet and coastal cities will be submerged in water. Global warming occurs when carbon dioxide (CO2) and other air pollutants and greenhouse gases collect in the atmosphere and absorb sunlight and solar radiation that have bounced off the earth’s surface.
Burning of fossil fuels tot make electricity is the largest source of heat-trapping pollution, producing about two billion tons of CO2 every year. Coal-burning power plants are by far the biggest polluters. Which reminds me of what Trump said when he was elected to the White House in 2016. He pledged to revive a US coal industry that was in seemingly terminal decline due to his predecessor Barack Obama’s stringent regulations on fossil fuels. “If I win,” he said, “we’re going to bring those miners back to work – you’re going to be so proud of your president and your country.” To make sure the world knew what he was up to, he withdrew the U.S. participation from the Paris Accord in 2017. Number one on Trump’s agenda was to roll back on Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). But Trump was rebuffed by state, business, and local leaders who pledged to honor and uphold the goals of the Paris Accord. More than 25 cities in 17 states, with populations totaling more than 5 million adopted resolutions that would enable them to get 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar.
The country’s second-largest source of carbon pollution is the transportation sector, which generates about 1.7 billion tons of CO2 emissions a year. While the U.S. is advancing towards transportation electrification, it is still many years away from total electrification.
Many car manufacturers are now producing electric cars. Foremost is Tesla who has reached its goal of producing 500,000 in 2020. One thing about electric cars is that they don’t have an engine and they run with no gasoline. Owners only need to plug their vehicles to an ordinary electric outlet at home to charge it. So it saves on fuel cost and engine maintenance. That’s roughly $20,000 savings every year per car. And it’s free from pollution and CO2 emissions, which lowers global warming and eventually saves Planet Earth from the ill effects of global warming and climate change. Indeed, Climate Czar Kerry has a very important role in the Earth’s future.
The biggest challenge to President-elect Biden is how to contain the COVID-19 virus, which right now doesn’t seem to go away. While vaccines have already been developed, the challenge is how fast can the Biden administration stop the virus’ spread. By the end of 2020, only three million Americans were vaccinated. Trump promised 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by the end of 2020. At the ongoing rate it would take 10 years to vaccinate 330 million Americans.
But Biden set a goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans in 100 days. Can he do it? If he could do it, it would mean that all Americans would be vaccinated by the end of 2022 considering that it would take two doses to vaccinate every American. And how many more Americans would die?
But deaths can be mitigated only if Americans would follow CDC guidelines such as wearing masks, social distancing, and washing hands. It’s sad that Trump did not encourage wearing masks and social distancing by constantly avoiding wearing mask himself and holding rallies where people were packed in close quarters. He believes that wearing a mask is a sign of weakness. I disagree. I believe that wearing a mask is a courageous act and it saves lives. Is it then fair to presume that Trump as the nation’s leader has caused his supporters not to wear masks? That’s irresponsible leadership.
But the most dangerous moment would be what Trump is going to do in the next three weeks of his lame duck presidency. Last January 1, he said that he would never concede. Sounds like it’s his New Year’s resolution.
Which makes one wonder: What is he going to do? Is he going to barricade himself in the Oval Office when Biden is inaugurated? With his state of mind bordering on paranoia and insanity, he could do stupid things like invoking the Insurrection Act and declaring martial law. He’d throw the country into chaos.
Steal electoral votes
On January 2, the Washington Post obtained a recording of a conversation in which Trump berated fellow Republican Georgia Secretary State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat in an extraordinary one-hour phone call. Trump told Raffensperger: “So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have [Biden got 11,799 votes]. Because we won the state.” But even if Reffensperger agreed to “doctor” Trump’s vote, Biden would only lose 16 electoral votes, which is not enough for Trump to win the presidency. Trump needs Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia to win the Electoral College vote to offset Biden’s 306 electoral over Trump’s 232 votes.
The news report said, “The rambling and at times incoherent conversation offered a remarkable glimpse of how consumed and desperate the president remains about his loss, unwilling or unable to let the matter go and still believing he can reverse the results in enough battleground states to remain in office.”
“There’s no way I lost Georgia,” Trump said, a phrase he repeated again and again on the call. “There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes.”
Trump’s pressure on Raffensperger is the latest example of his attempt to subvert the outcome of the election through personal outreach to state Republican officials. He previously invited Michigan Republican state leaders to the White House and pressured Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in a call to try to replace Georgia’s electors. He also asked the Republican Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to help reverse his loss in that state. He failed to steal the election.
Obviously, Trump has flown over the cuckoo’s nest in his attempt to hold on to power by any means – by hook or by crook — including what many believe are criminally motivated.
I fervently hope that Trump’s final days will end in a peaceful transition of power. The American people have suffered enough in 2020. I must say, “good riddance.” I wish him the best in his retirement from public office. And I welcome the New Year and the coming era of change under President-elect Biden.