If there was a photograph next to the word “snide” in the dictionary, it would be of Donald Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. It is hard to get the picture of the secretary and his actress wife covering themselves with Treasury money out of your head, Thursday at the World Economic Summit (WES) in Davos, Switzerland, Trump’s money man hit a new low.
Mnuchin denigrated the 17-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg after she appeared on the world stage and called for immediate fossil fuel divestment. He sneered at her. Although, it was difficult to tell whether he had a reason, or contempt just radiated off of him anyway.
Greta Thunberg hit people hard with the link between the economy and “significant economic issues:”
‘People who call for divestment should remember there are “significant economic issues, issues with jobs. Any economies are transitioning to more efficient and cleaner energy. That doesn’t have to be all renewables.’
Once world leaders criticized him for attacking Thunberg, Mnuchin pulled a “just joking” ploy. Although, his words did carry a caustic weight, according to The Guardian:
‘Is she the chief economist? Who is she, I’m confused, After she goes and studies economics in college she can come back and explain that to us.’
The young woman with a powerful message spoke in Davos:
‘What will you tell your children?’
Mnuchin said he had a Tesla electric car when he first started driving in California:
‘When I was allowed to drive I had a Tesla. I drove in California. I liked it. But nobody focuses on how that electricity is made and what happens to the storage and the environmental issues on all these batteries.”
Thunberg called for immediate action. She said countries needed to leave the fossil fuel energy, halt subsidies to the industry, and stop fossil fuel exploration. She pointed to corporations, banks, and other institutions:
‘You might think we’re naive but if you won’t do it, you must explain to your children why you’ve given up on the Paris agreement goals and knowingly created a climate crisis.’
Trump spoke to the Davos audience, too. He did not urge these economic leaders to be optimistic. He directed them to do so:
‘To embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse. They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers.’
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said:
‘The impatience of our young people is something that we should tap. I am totally convinced that the price of inaction will be far higher than the price of action.’
The US Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said a more measured approach would be better:
‘The energy sector has been an important source of jobs and fully divesting from fossil fuels would also harm US pensioners.’
Mnuchin argued that this administration was exhibiting world leadership by going after emission. Yet, he claimed the movement was through the private rather than the governmental sector. He did not mention how his boss had been taking a sharp scythe to all of President Barack Obama’s environmental accomplishments.
Clearly, the Treasury secretary indicated that Trump was not interested in the problem.
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