I spoke to Trump supporter who identified himself as a black man from the very beginning of the call. It was clear that something cathartic would have to happen for him to change his views and support for Donald Trump.
Donald Trump supporter on Politics Done Right
I approach many Trump supporters to try to have civil discussions in my community. This time one came to me via my Politics Done Right radio show. Tiaki called into the show. And we had a civil discussion.
Tiaki said he voted for Trump and was happy that Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement.
"Let these other countries," Tiaki said. "When you put forth these things, you've got scientists who are looking for research dollars. You have other countries that want to ride on the big purse strings that the United States have. Let them lead the way in these efforts."
I pointed out that industrialized countries over the last 200 years or so are responsible for most of the pollution cumulatively in our atmosphere. As such, countries like the United States who are responsible for most of the greenhouse gases in the air must now bear a much larger burden. In fact, here are the emissions by country in the aggregate and per capita. These numbers are cumulative pollution.
Since carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere can stay there for centuries, historical emissions are just as important – or even more important – than current emissions. The tricky question of historical responsibility is one of the key tensions in the process of negotiating a global climate deal. The following figures from the World Resources Institute show the top 10 nations as measured by their cumulative emissions between 1850 and 2007. The US tops the list by a wide margin – though Chinese emissions have risen significantly since these data were assembled.
1. US: 339,174 MT or 28.8%
2. China: 105,915 MT or 9.0%
3. Russia: 94,679 MT or 8.0%
4. Germany: 81,194.5 MT or 6.9%
5. UK: 68,763 MT or 5.8%
6. Japan: 45,629 MT or 3.87%
7. France: 32,667 MT or 2.77%
8. India: 28,824 MT or 2.44%
9. Canada: 25,716 MT or 2.2%
10. Ukraine: 25,431 MT or 2.2%
See all countries
Of course, it's also possible to look at historical emissions per person, which turns things around yet again. In this view, the UK shoots close to the top of the rankings, while China drops towards the bottom.
1. Luxembourg: 1,429 tonnes
2. UK: 1,127 tonnes
3. US: 1,126 tonnes
4. Belgium: 1,026 tonnes
5. Czech Republic: 1,006 tonnes
6. Germany: 987 tonnes
7. Estonia: 877 tonnes
8. Canada: 780 tonnes
9. Kazakhstan: 682 tonnes
10. Russia: 666 tonnes
The argument did not sway Tiaki at all.
John, another caller, then engaged Tiaki. John asked Tiaki if he believes in global warming. Tiaki said he did not. His rationale was that he remembered playing outside in shorts in December.
I pointed out to Tiaki that while it is true that in the aggregate the earth has seen warming and cooling cycles, these have occurred over thousands of years. With climate change, we are talking about a shorter timespan of decades and centuries where our infrastructure could not possibly keep up. I told him it is the argument Republicans like to use but that it was a false reality.
It was clear that we were talking past each other. Tiaki believes that America has done enough with its mileage standards and emission controls. He must be unaware of Trump's fuel economy rollbacks.
Tiaki shocked me when he stated that Trump has a better grasp of environmental issues than President Obama. It was clear that he was still an avid supporter. I told him outcomes and results are all that matters and that I hope he will stay in touch and attempt to keep an open mind.
Many think we should just disregard these Trump supporters. I never will. Where possible, I will try to entertain a dialogue. Will I succeed most of the times? Unlikely. But I will succeed in planting seeds and letting these folks know that if there is a change in their thinking, they have a place to go. That is how we grow our base.
You can listen/watch the entire show or a full version of Tiaki's exchange here.
Also published on Medium.