As the Amazon rainforest burns and glaciers melt historically fast, to many Americans, Democrats are failing to rise to the occasion, particularly when they focus on such topics as the Russia investigation, according to Noam Chomsky. “It was obvious from the beginning that they were not going to find very much,” the linguist and activist tells writer David Barsamian in a wide-ranging interview published Wednesday in Truthout.

“Trump’s a crook,” he says. “We knew that already—but they’re not going to find any real collusion with the Russians, and [Mueller] didn’t.” This “laserlike focus on Robert Mueller,” as Chomsky describes it, is consuming too much of Democrats’ airtime, campaigning energy and overall electoral strategy.

He believes they should be focused on Trump’s policies, especially his environmental plans, because “Trump’s climate policy may literally be a virtual death knell for the species,” he points out. “We’ve got a couple of years to try to deal somehow with the environmental crisis. It can be controlled. It’s not easy, but it can be done. If you waste a couple of years by trying to escalate the crisis, you might just push us over the edge.”

Chomsky’s evidence includes the fourth National Climate Assessment by the Transportation Security Administration, produced in 2018, which, he explains, revealed that “by the end of this century, global temperatures will have risen 4 degrees centigrade [7.2 F]. That’s way beyond what the scientific consensus says will make life unlivable.”

As journalist Umair Irfan explained in Vox when the report was released last November, “Global warming could cause more harm to the US economy by 2100 than even the Great Recession did”—if humans are around to bear the impact, that is.

Instead of heeding the advice of its own scientists, the Trump administration practically buried the report, releasing it the Friday after Thanksgiving. Worse, Chomsky notes, rather than use the terrifying information as the impetus to take action, the administration used the report as a reason to not limit car emissions. He says its attitude seemed to be: “Look, we’re going off the cliff anyway, and car emissions don’t make that much of a difference. So who cares?”

Democrats have done little to fight back. The day after Chomsky’s interview was posted, the Democratic National Committee voted 17-18 against hosting a climate change debate Thursday afternoon. According to HuffPost, the DNC believes that having a debate on the topic “would open the gate to a flood of requests for single-issue debates on abortion rights, health care and other hot-button issues.”

HuffPost sources believe other forces were at play as well. Alexander Kaufman and Chris D’Angelo report that some feel that “the DNC was mostly worried that a debate that incentivized the eventual nominee to declare war on the fossil fuel industry risked ceding gas-producing states like Pennsylvania to Trump in 2020.”

Read the entire Chomsky interview here.

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