Pulling Out of Paris


Elections have consequences. Never has that adage been more true or devastatingly clear than these past four months. There was another topic I planned to discuss today, but after President Trump's appalling news conference on Thursday announcing that the United States was withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement I felt compelled to issue my opinion on this critical matter because it "trumps" virtually every other subject right now. I am not going to address the science of climate change and global warming because I already did that in my blog post "Ignorance is Strength?" published on March 11th. Instead I want to focus on how this decision was made and the consequences for our country, both domestically and on the world stage.

I stated in my first blog post that I aimed to avoid politics because it is such a polarizing topic, but I can't hold back any longer. In four months Donald Trump has proven to be exactly what I feared when he was somehow elected to the highest office in the nation: ignorant, naïve, impulsive, disdainful of the poor and disadvantaged, a con man who swindled mostly white, uneducated males who are desperate because the 21st century global economy has passed them by and who ache for a return to an age that is never coming back, while he proposes policies and issues executive orders that favor the wealthy and well-connected like himself, a numbskull who tweets incessantly like a wronged adolescent, a political neophyte who calls journalists who simply want to report the truth to their readers and viewers "the enemy of the people," and who repeatedly embarrasses himself and the nation internationally. He is a danger to the American people and to the world order. For those who voted for Trump because you did not trust the career politicians and wanted "the Donald" to disrupt Washington, congratulations- you got what you wanted. But everyone, whether you voted for him, Hillary Clinton (or like me for neither because I have never liked or supported her) has to suffer from the ramifications of his ill-advised and plainly dumb decisions.

Frankly I don't care anymore if I piss off Trump voters. I'll proudly wear it as a badge of honor and besides, anyone who was ignorant or stupid enough to think that electing Trump was going to "Make America Great Again" is likely not going to be swayed by me or anyone with a modicum of reason to think otherwise, while they continue to embed themselves in the inane echo chamber of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. While I am a registered Democrat, I have always considered myself a moderate or centrist, for I consider extreme views on both the far-right and far-left dangerous and too rigidly ideological. I much more favor the middle ground and consider compromise to find a consensus among differing political stripes for the betterment of all members of society should be the goal of government rather than two polar extremes fighting over "litmus tests" and viewing compromise as a "dirty word" because then, by definition, a narrow ideological base comes out the winner while the majority lose out. This petty practice of "ruling from the far-right" cannot be clearer with Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.

This decision is wrong on so many levels. First off, let's start with how this decision was made. Trump has surrounded himself with extremely wealthy Cabinet members who don't understand or care how most people actually live, or far-right ideologues who are hell bent on pursuing policies that fit their worldview and don't give a shit about anyone who does not agree with them. Ironically, on this decision, it wasn't just Democrats, far- left organizations, environmental groups, "elite" liberal European politicians, or even the pope, who lobbied Trump to stay in the Paris agreement. Even his own daughter Ivanka, his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was nominated to the post despite not having any government or diplomatic experience and who had long led the world's largest oil and gas company, as well as the current CEO of Exxon Mobil, lobbied Trump to no avail. Instead this pathetic excuse for a President, and "leader of the free world," whom even candidates for the Republican nomination like Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and John Kasich repeatedly warned last year was unfit and unprepared for the job (and of course, were absolutely right) listened to his chief strategist Stephen Bannon and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt (a true right-wing "nut job") in making this god-awful decision. I watched Trump's press conference and when the "climate-change-is-a-hoax" members of his inner circle had the nerve to clap and cheer the announcement off-camera, I cringed at their smug and thoughtless victory yelps. I applaud Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, who had the strength of his conviction to immediately resign his position as a technical advisor to the White House.

Next is how Trump, the ultimate snake oil salesman, defended his decision by stating that the Paris agreement was an "attack on our national sovereignty" and that if the U.S. implemented the policies required by the accord, the American economy would be unfairly restricted. It is true that China and India are granted no caps on their green-house gas emissions for the next decade or so under the Paris Agreement, but that was agreed to by the international negotiators because those two still-developing states lack infrastructure on a national scale compared to the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia and all of Europe. This was a compromise to convince China and India to sign the agreement and eventually get them on board with emission reductions after a period of intense construction to allow them to build out their infrastructure more in line with developed countries that started modernizing their societies much earlier. China surpassed the U.S. in greenhouse gas emissions a decade ago, but dating back to the mid-19th century, no nation has contributed more than good old USA to the unprecedented amount of carbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere (it is not even close).

Trump also mentioned that millions of American jobs would be lost if the U.S. stayed in the Paris Agreement. This argument is so disingenuous because sure, many jobs in the oil and gas and some manufacturing industries would be lost (19th and 20th century jobs that should go by the wayside to make room for progress just like many obsolete and inefficient technologies have become extinct), but he does not mention all the new, better paying and safer jobs that would be created in green energy fields. Trump even has the hubris to state "I love coal miners!" No what he loves are poorly educated workers who are clinging to a filthy, dangerous job inherently at risk of industrial accidents and severe respiratory diseases but have known no other lifestyle outside their insular geographical and intergenerational space. Trump loves coal miners because they are desperate and gullible enough to think he will bring a dying industry back and vote for him so that his gigantic ego can be stroked. If Trump really loves coal miners, he would push for more training programs to prepare them for better jobs in the industries of today and tomorrow, as well as health care coverage to pay for the inevitable treatment they will need for their years-long exposure to a highly toxic environment.

Most concerning of all is that Trump is surrendering American leadership on this vital issue to the rest of the international community. Every developed country is held to a higher standard under this agreement for the betterment of the global environment. Unlike Trump's preposterous statement that the agreement is specifically unfair to the U.S., almost every nation on the planet signed on because their leaders possessed the vision and understanding that unless greenhouse gas emissions are reigned in, every country is going to suffer the consequences and it is way past time that the international community adjust its ways of doing business because climate change/global warming is real and the largest threat to humanity. Withdrawing from this agreement puts America out-of-step with the world. Progress on renewable forms of energy are going to continue regardless of the American government's policies. But if the federal government, and in particular, those individuals under the influence of the oil, gas and coal industries and their well-heeled lobbyists, turn away from solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric sources of energy generation, the U.S. will truly be behind the curve. And its not just liberal democracies that are turning to renewable energy, but China is also primed to become an international leader as even the Communist Party has seen how the dense, choking smog initiated by coal-fired power plants has become a detriment to the health and welfare of its people and China's international reputation. China is embarking on the pursuit of large scale renewable energy projects, irrespective of the lax standards imposed on it by the Paris Agreement because China understands that green energy is the wave of the future and is best for its populace and world standing.

Thus, I applaud all the American governors and mayors who have joined together to refute Trump's decision and adamantly profess that they will do all they can to ensure their states and local communities will uphold the standards set by the Paris agreement. While that is definitely a good thing, only the federal government has the required clout and reach to truly make a difference. Pollution is not confined by state borders or county lines, so if a Republican-led state does not respect standards and allows its companies to emit higher levels of greenhouse gases, those pollutants are carried downwind to other states and the cumulative effect of heat-trapping gases is felt worldwide. Also Trump's narcissistic and putrid declaration that he will negotiate a better deal or "if I can't, that's fine" is inexcusable and a detriment to this country. As the leaders of France, Germany and Italy quickly responded that the Paris Agreement will not be renegotiated, Trump is left alone on the world stage, much as he has been in the White House most evenings the past four months, but he can't fix this with a tweet.

I was depressed the day after the election for fear of the damage Trump could do to this country and the world. I don't need to say "I told you so" because there are many other people who know more about politics, economics and international relations than I who can and are saying the same thing. For those calling for his impeachment, I worry that the process takes far too long, especially with a Republican-dominated Congress. Even if Democrats were to sweep back in power after the mid-term elections, that new Congress will not be seated until January 2019, and I shudder what more damage Trump and his right-wing asshole advisors could inflict on the American people and global community in the meantime, or even if Trump is ultimately removed from office, that a President Pence will be much of an improvement. Thanks to the Trump supporters for elevating this petulant disgrace of a man to the most powerful position in the world- you got what you deserve, but unfortunately, everybody else has to suffer as well.

#ParisClimateAgreement #PresidentTrump #climatechange #globalwarming #renewableenergy #farright #ideological #StephenBannon #ScottPruitt #ElonMusk #carbondioxide #methane #greenenergy #lobbyists #China

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© 2017 by Peter McNeela.