A State of the Planet is Needed

A State of the Planet is Needed




 A few weeks ago President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address. Focusing largely on jobs and the economy in touting what he called a “new American moment,” the president said, “There has never been a better time to start living the American dream,” and “We want every American to know the dignity of a hard day’s work; we want every child to be safe in their home at night, and we want every citizen to be proud of this land that we love.”

Trump also discussed his overhaul of the US tax code, which he signed into law in December, and proudly championed the employee bonuses that ensued. In his words, “Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses — many of them thousands of dollars per worker.”

Overall, Trump used the platform to talk about his commitment to free enterprise. Fact checked by venerable news institutions such as Business Insider, Trump’s policies have led to multiple industries — including airlines, telecommunications, consumer electronics companies, and retail among others — announcing one-time payments in response to the new tax law.

As a populist campaigner and supposed friend of the American worker, Trump’s State of the Union was effective. It may go down as one of his significant accomplishments.

But what about the world? Shouldn’t the leader of the free world be addressing more than the welfare of individual Americans? The world is at stake. Trump discussed much that matters to Americans, but he said almost nothing about the planet that all Americans must inhabit and survive on. The president was almost silent when it came to the real facts that matter in the long run. Tax code tweaks and one-time bonuses are not going to matter if people do not have access to clean drinking water, arable land to farm, forests to retreat to, and animals to companion with.

For whatever reason, the president was unable or unwilling to confront the most important facts. 20% of the world consumes 80% of the world’s resources. 5,000 people die each day because of dirty drinking water. 1 billion people are going hungry. 50% of the grain traded around the world goes to cattle feed and bio-fuels. One mammal in 4, one bird in 8, and one amphibian in 3 are threatened with extinction. 3 quarters of the fishing grounds are no longer viable. 200 million climate refugees are anticipated by 2050.

Where was any of this information in the State of the Union?

What is needed is a State of the Planet address. What is needed is for the American president to speak for the planet as a whole. There is no other way to be president of the United States. There is too much power invested in this hallowed office to merely shrug off the responsibilities of earth. That is not leadership but close mindedness; that is not confidence but irrelevance; that is not purpose but arrogance.

George Cassidy Payne
Rochester, NY