Can we afford President Trump’s fossil fuel ambitions?

asj co-founders cathy claesson and matt niswonger smiling outdoors

ASJ co-founders Cathy Claesson and Matt Niswonger. After 16 years and 95 issues they are more committed to the adventure lifestyle than ever.

In my last editor’s note I wrote about Donald Trump and the pros and cons of staying silent vs. taking a political stand. A few readers shared some pretty strong arguments for staying politically silent. After all, ASJ’s core mission is to unite California outdoor enthusiasts around a healthy, adventurous lifestyle. Given this, who cares whether you call yourself a Democrat, Republican or something else?

However, for a variety of reasons – all outlined in the last issue – we cannot stay on the sidelines. Trump’s ambivalence towards climate change more than anything else has forced our hand. Simply put, rejecting science is unacceptable. The earth is round and burning fossil fuels is a clear and present danger to our species. This is the scientific consensus. With irrefutable data showing an increase in both global average temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide, there is no excuse to keep feeding our addiction to fossil fuels, especially when clean energy is so viable.

What’s frustrating is that the clean energy opportunity is just sitting there, waiting for the right leader. With all of Trump’s emphasis on keeping our manufacturing jobs, America could become the global leader in clean energy, with abundant supplies of domestic natural gas providing a bridge to ever increasing solar and wind energy capacity. Given the right inspiring leader, it’s not unrealistic to assert that we could put ourselves on a path to completely phase out fossil fuels in both the energy and transportation sectors by the end of this century.

Electric car chargers could be installed at every gas station, and over time internal combustion engines could be almost completely phased out. All energy sources except electricity and rechargeable batteries could be eliminated over time, making our energy system much more streamlined.

Job creation would be off the charts, and clean energy union apprenticeships could help both men and women become highly skilled wage earners who bring home benefits for their families and set aside money for retirement. Again, none of this could happen without strong leadership. Right now, wages in the solar and wind industries are too low. This is a heroic part of our economy and it should be unionized and given the respect it deserves. All solar and wind Installers should be invited to join the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers with Journeyman wages on par with union electricians–about $50/hour plus benefits and retirement.

To date, the clean energy sector has always had a monkey on its back as fossil fuel politicians and corporate lobbyists have asked “who is gonna pay for it?” Now, anyone who asks that question is just demonstrating his or her ignorance. In the last five years this question has become completely irrelevant as solar and wind power has achieved cost parity with coal and other fossil fuels on a per kilowatt basis in states like California, Texas and South Dakota.

Of course this “apples-to-apples” cost analysis does not count the billions of dollars we spend to defend our oil interests in countries around the world, or the environmental costs of oil spills and climate change. With these hidden costs included, there is absolutely no justification for any president of the United States not to have a bold, ambitious plan for the total phase-out of fossil fuels. The days of subsidizing the fossil fuel industry are over, whether Trump gets it or not. Consider this: we now know that the tobacco industry resisted, downplayed and offered “alternative facts” to discredit the science linking cigarettes to cancer for decades just to squeeze more money out of a dying industry. Any president who does not embrace clean energy in 2017 is putting short term profits ahead of our children’s future.

So this is where Adventure Sports Journal stands. We have chosen sides and yes, it has cost us some readers as you can see from some of the letters printed below. Ideally, an outdoor sports publication like Adventure Sports Journal would remain apolitical, but the fate of the outdoors is being threatened by a president who is in bed with the petro-chemical industry and we can’t stay silent.

Maybe a Trump presidency will prove a pleasant surprise, but we are not optimistic. As I write these words, he is pursuing the largest oil development deal in history with Russia, a hostile foreign power that treats climate change like a joke. His nominee for secretary of state, former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, will be in a perfect position to make the deal happen. He has also issued executive orders to expedite both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects. I call this an infuriating step backwards. What do you think? Send an email to

—Matt Niswonger


Main image: Goddard Space Flight Center [NASA]


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