It’s been quite a time for, in the phrase of the moment (which TomDispatch regular John Feffer wields particularly effectively today), “the adults in the room.” We’re talking, of course, about the very Washington insiders whom a “senior administration official” in an anonymous op-ed in the New York Times patted on the back for saving us all from Donald Trump. Recently, as Hurricane Florence swamped North Carolina, I thought about that state’s version of those same adults. You know, the ones in the Republican-dominated legislature who insisted, not so long ago, that a climate-change-induced rise in sea level, expected to drown parts of that state’s low-lying coast by 2100, was essentially a hoax. They even passed a thoroughly adult law — H.B. 819 — in 2012 that, as the New York Times reported, “effectively ordered state and local agencies that develop coastal policies to ignore scientific models showing an acceleration in the rise of sea levels.” The result: a wave of new building and yet more development along that same endangered coast — of structures some of which have only recently been boarded up and whose fates, now or later, will likely spell disaster for insurance companies and others. And keep in mind that Florence was only the beginning of the “hoax” to come as intensifying storms, crossing ever-warmer ocean waters, bring yet more drenching rains, while sea levels continue to rise.
As we know, updated versions of those 2012 “adults” in North Carolina now dominate all environmental and climate-change policy-making in Washington. They are the only “adults” in the (heating) Trumpian room and they are now doing their damnedest to heat it further. Think about that as you consider Feffer’s distinctly dystopian vision — what other kind could there be? — of Donald Trump’s new normal in Washington and the so-called adults in that room with him. (And then, if you’re in the mood for a little dystopian fiction, rather than fact, pick up his riveting novel, Splinterlands, which focuses on the potentially grim fate that awaits this planet or, if you’ve already done that, pre-order his newest Dispatch Book, Frostlands, number two in his series about how we are, in fact, changing everything. It’s coming in November.)