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Climate change as a global culture war

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LONDON – In Davos on Tuesday, President Donald Trump pledged the United States to a major global project to plant a trillion trees worldwide in the next decade.

In almost any previous administration, that announcement would have been the centerpiece of the president’s speech to the World Economic Forum, focusing this year on climate change amid Australia’s wildfires and faster than expected progress toward renewable energy generation.

Instead, Trump grabbed the agenda in a very different way, lambasting climate change campaigners as “prophets of doom” making “predictions of apocalypse” and pledging that America would defend its economy. Like almost every other major action the president takes this year, it paints an unambiguous picture of both how he sees the world and intends to use that framing to win a second term.

It is, as always, an unambiguously divisive approach that Trump knows will antagonize his rivals and, he hopes, mobilize his base. That, he clearly feels, is best done by going on the offensive. Liberal outrage and alarm over draconian measures against migrants, trade wars or risky foreign actions such as the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Trump appears to be betting, may simply play into his hands with the demographics that he really needs.

He will hope the same will be true of slamming hard-line climate campaigners like Greta Thunberg, whom he did not mention by name but who was in the auditorium to hear him speak. Climate change is rising up the........

© The Japan Times