If Donald Trump wins in November then this is clearly a disaster for world – whether he wins legitimately or, as seems more likely, by dismantling democracy. His victory will not only be a disaster in itself: it will also accelerate the slide from democracy to authoritarianism elsewhere in the world.
But, well, this has happened before, hasn't it? The free world did succeed, eventually, in defeating the Nazis, and it at least seems plausible that it1 will defeat this latter-day incarnation of fascism. Millions will die, appalling atrocities will be committed, but the world will recover. Won't it?
It probably won't. Because this time is not like what happened in the 1930s and 1940s. By the time Trump and his followers-on are defeated it will be too late: billions, not millions will probably die if Trump wins in November.
Why? Climate change. We have no more than a decade, and probably less, to deal with climate change. If we fail to take serious steps to address it that time it will be, simply, too late. The world will not end in a decade, but if nothing is done in that time then enough warming will already be committed that nothing we can do will prevent catastrophic levels of warming happening later in the 21st century and into the 22nd. This will almost certainly end any recognisably modern civilisation and very probably kill most humans then alive.
Trump and the other authoritarians either do not believe in anthropogenic climate change or simply do not care about it – either because they will be dead by the time it matters or because they believe they can extract enough wealth from their positions to isolate themselves from its effects, as other very rich people plan to do. This means that, if he wins, nothing will be done for at least another four years, and almost certainly nothing will be done until it is far too late.
It is not certain that, if Trump loses, enough will be done to deal with climate change. It is certain that, if he wins, it won't be.
This means that billions of lives are at stake in this election, not millions. It is, quite literally, probably the last chance for our civilisation.
I would like to say 'we', but the country I live in is well down the slope to an authoritarian catastrophe of its own. ↩