Green energy will triumph despite Trump

A Smartflower home solar-energy device. Smartflower's American operations are based in Boston.

A Smartflower home solar-energy device. Smartflower's American operations are based in Boston.


Adapted froman item in Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary'' column in

President Trump’s rolling up of the  Obama administration’s initiatives to slow global warming caused by burning fossil fuels will not only hurt the environment and public health. It will also harm the economy by slowing U.S. development of technology for clean energy – technology that our international trading partners are working on enthusiastically.  A retreat toward more reliance on fossil fuel will make America less competitive. This technology development creates well-paying jobs. GE Chairman Jeff Immelt and other corporate leaders have been eloquent on this subject.

Mr. Trump has seemed quite obsessed with appealing to the dwindling number of people who mine coal or otherwise profit from this poisonous material, even as he also said he’d boost fracking for gas and oil, which would hurt the coal industry. Gas is providing an ever higher proportion of the energy to power electricity plants because it’s cheap and plentiful and far less polluting than coal.

But then, don’t look for coherence from Donald Trump or deep research by his followers. But it’s clear that what we can expect in his (first?) term is a modest increase in coal-mining,  with more miners dying of black lung and cancer or in mine collapses, more environmental devastation of parts of Appalachia (poisoned streams, sheared-off mountaintops, etc.) and the continued transmission of mercury, sulfur dioxide and other poisons into the air from coal-fired plants.

But not for long. This filthy way of extracting and using energy is doomed, whatever Donald Trump’s appeals to the desperate and hidebound people of Coal Country.

In the not-too-distant future, most Americans will get their electricity from solar, wind and other nonpolluting energy generated close to where they live; the coal mines will all be shut and Appalachia will begin the long process of healing their ravaged land and building a diversified economy.