Yesterday, June 1, 2017, at about 3.00 pm, President Donald J. Trump, announced, accompanied with his customary amateurish theatrics and dismal verbal flourishes, the obvious, that he was pulling America out of the Paris carbon emission mitigating ‘Agreement’ and marching it backwards.
This was after teasing and titillating the entire World for a week in suspenseful silence, after his return from his foreign trip, as he supposedly reflected deeply on the planet changing choice of keeping the United States in the historic, global, climate change agreement called the 'Paris Accord’, or not.
Of course his only deep reflection as to the effect of the decision was to the political ramifications at home, where he was suffering almost daily setbacks, and certainly not to the pros and cons of the global effort to mitigate climate change by some 190+ countries, as neither he (Trump) nor his Republican support care much about the notion of climate change or its risks.
Trump desperately needed a major political ‘win’ at home to re-strengthen his base to fend off the baying wolves of the Russia investigations that seemed to be drawing ever too close for comfort. And so by ‘fulfilling’ one of his major campaign promises, to pull America out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, he claimed victory for ‘Americans’ and thus for himself. Therefore his decision should not have been a surprise, but the World and most of America swooned in dismay anyway.
The benefits to America to stay in the 190+ country agreement were so obvious most everyone was convinced that upon some reflection, and upon listening to the World leaders and the most experienced and wisest of his Advisers - Secretary of State Tillerson, Secretary of Defense General Mattis, Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohen (all for staying in), and the Heads of some of the biggest Corporations in America, and his beloved daughter Ivanka (this administration couldn’t function without the ‘family’) - Trump would do the economically/environmentally and morally the right thing, and keep America in the Agreement. They were wrong.
Trump has never been for America, he has always been for himself. Trump did what was right for him politically, even though it damaged America in the eyes of the World grievously, was the wrong decision economically (ask most of big business), and lost the U.S. trust and credibility geo-politically. We, in the meantime, sighed in resignation as we had expected Trump to do the Trump thing (that which was politically expedient for him, and to damn America) by yanking America to its past positions which were to talk loudly about doing the right thing, and then generally do what was in the 'American interest’, the wrong thing. Talking the talk and NOT walking the walk has become a very American thing to do in the past decades, whether it comes to peace, freedom, equality, democracy, capitalism, or concern for the environment.
Obama tried to change America’s narrative going forward, preferring diplomacy over perpetual war; a fairer approach to Iran and the minority Shia sect and a harder stance with Saudi Arabia and the Sunni terror networks Al Qaeda and ISIS; clean/green energy over old dirty energy; slightly higher taxes for the rich and greater benefits for those in need; better and more inclusive healthcare - and it all made the Republicans giddy with rage for 8 long years. Now that they control all Government, they were not going to waste the opportunity to roll America back to saying one thing and doing exactly the other. In Trump they found a most willing accomplice.
Historically, since the 1800s, America has been the biggest polluter in the World by far, till about a decade ago when China took over the lead.
Cumulatively, since the 1800s, America has dumped the most CO2 into the atmosphere, more than any other country in the World, and more than most combined. America owes a huge carbon debt to the World and in dollar terms it would be almost incalculable. But since the average American will be uninformed and mostly uninterested in such details, Trump and team frame their inaccurate and untrue arguments as if America is being taken advantage of, by everybody. Nothing could be further from the truth, but then Trump was never interested in such a subjective matter as the truth, not even in environmental matters.
Ever since global warming/climate change was noticed as a problem, and scientists started to raise the alarm, the U.S. amongst almost all the developed countries was the most adamant about its sovereign right to pollute to its heart’s content, and not take actions to hamstring its businesses (as recently as George W. Bush), and aggressively and steadfastly refused to join any collective effort to address the problem (e.g. the Kyoto Protocol) or even to scale back carbon emissions meaningfully, as a policy.
Since the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by the rest of the countries, the U.S., and China, dumped more CO2 in the atmosphere than the rest of the signatory countries managed to reduce under the Kyoto Protocol, thus negating all their efforts. That is why, historically, America has NOT been ‘the leader’ in the effort to reduce carbon emissions, and on June 1, 2017 Trump and fellow cohorts in the Republican Party ensured that it wouldn’t be in any danger of becoming one any time soon.
Additionally, it’s quite ironic that by stepping back from the Paris Accord, and from leading the global effort to slow the ongoing heating of the atmosphere through the carbon dioxide emissions, America abdicated to China its leadership role, its former and present ‘most polluting’ partner, thereby giving China a moral boost and legitimacy in the eyes of the World. Not a smart thing to do for America.
But then leading America back to the past does not require any intellectual vigor or vision, and in that President Trump and fellow climate change deniers in the Republican Party, were certain not to disappoint, and they didn’t.