The Trump Administration has been openly hostile to any kind of sustainable energy development. With the newly released federal budget it is now obvious that environmental concerns aren’t important at all to Trump&Co.
In his first budget as President, Trump has decided to not only defund all sustainable development at a federal level, but also to almost completely cut funding for clean coal research. While some in the green community support clean coal development, it is a tremendous waste of time and money.
Business As Usual For Trump&Co.
What is clear in this Trumpian agenda is the total disregard for the health and well being of the world at-large, and his deranged view towards energy development. What is perhaps less apparent at first glance is how dangerous these policies are for the United States in the future.
Among the tragedies contained in the latest policy abomination from Trump&Co. is the elimination of ARPA-E, which was an advanced research program for next generation energy technologies.
Also his new budget cuts funding to clean coal research programs by 85%, perhaps in the hope of supporting a dyeing source of energy via encouraging its use in the cheapest form possible.
The irony in all of this is that eliminating spending on clean coal is actually a spectacular idea, as it is one of the worst ways to create energy that has ever been thought up. The process resembles a Rube Goldberg machine, the key difference being that clean coal proponents were deadly serious about its viability.
Fantastic Work Mr. Trump
While many in the environmental community are unhappy with what President Trump is doing, I think with this budget he has done a tremendously good thing.
Clean coal was an idiotic idea, and the sooner it was done away with, the better.
While his motivations for making this decision are still unclear, I think we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief, and be thankful that this likely marks the end of clean coal development.
What is less encouraging is the backdrop on which this policy action was taken. Along with clean coal, a number of very important programs were discarded, and this is extremely dangerous for the United States.
More Than Money
Trump&Co. fails to see what energy represents in a society, and this is putting the United States on a course to be the least competitive power over the next century. While doing away with clean coal research is a great idea, preventing a nation from developing modern energy generation is extremely dangerous.
The driving philosophy of Trumpian logic is that profit comes first, the faster he and his crew can make money from something, the better.
Unfortunately, money isn’t going to help the United States when they are competing with China and Europe, both of which are making investments in next generation energy sources.
Money, as such, has no value.
I know how strange it is to think about, but it is 100% true.
The reason Trump&Co. have an unrelenting fetish for accumulating dollars is because since the end of the second world war, the US Dollar as been almost as good as gold.
While an explanation of why the US Dollar has enjoyed this privilege is well beyond the scope of this article, it is enough to say that the current state the global political landscape wouldn’t give rise to the same situation.
The major disconnect from reality that the Trumpian worldview suffers from is: They see money as value, and not a representation of it.
This distinction is far more than nuance of linguistics, it is in fact a delineation of two mutually exclusive ways of viewing the world.
While Trump&Co. are very good at making money, they are creating a situation that destroys social value on a large scale.
Why Energy Matters
This may seem silly to rehash, but given the state of energy development in the United States, I would be remiss if I did not mention why energy sources are the foundation of creating social value.
Energy is the basis of value creation in a society, so the more efficiently a society can create energy, the more competitive it will be.
It really is that simple.
So when we look at Trumpian policy next to, oh lets say Germany, we can see some pretty striking differences begin to emerge.
While President Trump’s logic measures success in profit, German planning measures success in the ability to create value from work. Think about the difference between a windfarm that produces electricity and a coal based energy infrastructure.
The amount of labor and material needed to continue to create value from the power generating infrastructure in the former example is minimal, and in the latter it is staggering. The other advantage that sustainable energy technologies offer is the removal of a depletable fuel source from the equation.
We are never going to run out of wind or sun, and if we do, there will be bigger problems than how to make toast in the morning.
Moving Backward At An Alarming Rate
While it is easy to ridicule Trump&Co. for their lack of vision, it is likely more productive to focus on where value generating infrastructure is being developed.
It is amazing to watch the sustainable infrastructure build-out in the EU, and the reduction in energy prices that companies like Vattenfall and Shell are able to achieve with their windfarms.
While coal tries its best compete with offshore wind generation, at sub 5 euro cents per kilowatt hour, it is no surprise that Vattenfall abandoned coal mining and generation to focus on sustainable power projects.
Trump&Co. have yet to understand the difference between money and value, but thankfully the markets are far larger than a small group of greedy, greedy people.
In the fullness of time, uncompetitive technologies will always fade into history. Just ask the guy who decided to keep making buggywhips…
Oh wait, you can’t.