Policy Forum
February 2017

Biodiversity

Could Trump be the catalyst for a seismic shift toward a sustainable and desirable future?

The election of Donald Trump to the US Presidency could enable the creative destruction needed for the transition to a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous world, write Robert Costanza, Lorenzo Fioramonti, Maja Göpel, Ida Kubiszewski, Hunter Lovins, Dirk Philipsen, and Stewart Wallis.

Donald Trump’s rise to the White House has shocked many around the world, especially now that controversial decisions are being taken on immigration, climate change, education, environment, and energy policy. It represents a massive regression to parochial governance: the America he wants to make ‘great’ again seems not only one that privileges male rights over female rights, as seen with his decree on abortion, but through a cabinet stacked with billionaires, also an America that gives greater say to corporate interests.

As difficult as it is to understand how and why so many working Americans saw a saviour in arguably the most self-centred capitalist ever to run for high office in the US, it is nevertheless necessary to acknowledge the range of very real and legitimate grievances underlying this popular expression of discontent. Official statistics rarely represent them adequately. The primary focus on GDP growth — inherited from Reagan but intensified by Clinton, Bush and Obama — does not serve working people well. Not only does it damage the environment, thus destroying livelihoods for many, but it also fuels inequality. Piketty’s research shows that, over the last 30 years, the growth in incomes of the bottom 50 per cent has been virtually zero, whereas incomes of the top 1 per cent have grown 300 per cent. Meanwhile, jobs have become ever more precarious and provide ever fewer rewards.

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