Departure Is Not An Option.

The President said today that he will withdraw the United States from the Paris Accord.

This is just plain wrong-headed thinking.

We all live on this planet. So every one of us is also responsible for cleaning up our messes. Didn’t your mom tell you as much? She was right, and is in a united front with Big Mama: Mother Earth herself.

Reducing the burden of environmental regulations on businesses does not guarantee economic growth and new jobs. In the long term, reversing the United States’ commitments to a clean environment will hurt Americans and hurt our neighbors.

China’s commitment is “to lower carbon dioxide emissions (compared to its 2005 level) by 60 to 65 percent by 2030 and India’s commitment to lower emissions by 33 to 35 percent by 2030.”  The deadline the U.S. set for its own reduction is 2025. In so doing, America would be first in leading the world at cutting emissions!

The President wanted a deal that is more “fair;” that puts America first. What on earth is fair about sustaining actions that soil the planetary nest for us all?

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are all impossible if we are ill. We lose our liberty to choose the life we want to live if our air and soil and water are contaminated with things that make us sick. The theoretical prosperity businesses will achieve from spending less to comply with regulations will be outstripped by the costs of a faltering environment that will fail in part because those regulations were rolled back.

Which jobs are going to grow by backing out of the Accord? America’s natural gas, wind and solar industries today employ over five times as many American workers as the coal industry.

If the Administration is looking for a big win, this isn’t it. Leaving the Paris Accord is a colossal, irresponsible, error. Is it possible that the point of making a big statement that has no immediate impact but gets a wide swath of people upset is look like you had a big win? To declare the intent to withdraw from the Accord costs no money up front, takes no Congressional approval, and appeals to Trump supporters because Their Guy is telling the whole world to get stuffed.

Could the White House simply want to create more uncertainty and distraction from myriad other issues that are much closer to hand and on which it’s much harder to accomplish anything of substance?

I’ve stopped trying to guess what the White House is up to. Plenty of people who are smarter than I am are investigating that already.  I’m not impressed by either of the arguments offered by twenty-one Republican Senators who support the President on this issue. Their first argument is that participation in the Accord will generate litigation that will prevent the President from rolling back the Clean Power Act. I’m not mollified by the idea that even if the United States were to withdraw from the Paris Accord, it still holds a permanent seat at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), out of which the Accord arose.

Three things this week give me great heart: Big Industry, Big Cities, and Big Thinkers.

Watch Big Industry. Leaders of 30 of America’s largest corporations, spanning transportation, energy, agriculture, manufacturing, banking and technology urged the President to support the accord. ExxonMobil shareholders directed their company to publish reports that document how climate change is likely to affect its business. Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, said the President is wrong. Lloyd Blankfein, head of Goldman Sachs, used his first-ever tweet to say that the President is wrong on this one.

Related: Harvard Business Review details on U.S industry support for the Accord

Watch Big Cities. Today, mayors of 68 American cities announced their plan, to independently align their efforts, representing over 36 million Americans, with the other 194 nations that adopted the accord. Ironically, that list includes Pittsburgh, PA…despite the President’s announcement that his decision to withdraw from the Accord supports a brighter future for cities like Pittsburgh.

Watch Big Thinkers. Today, Elon Musk, the last of the Silicon Valley CEO’s on the President’s advisory boards, today resigned, tweeting, “Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson opined, “If I and my advisors had never learned what Science is or how & why it works, then I’d consider pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord too.”

I just finished the latest book by author and NYT columnist Tom Friedman. It couldn’t be better timed. Thank You For Being Late: An Optimists’s Guide To Thriving In The Age Of Accelerations, concludes with 17 policy options that Mother Nature would support if she led a political party.

And closer to home, literally: As I was writing this, a young man came to the door asking me to get in touch with Senator Warner, to oppose 31% funding cuts to EPA and support programs that sustain the Chesapeake Bay.  I was glad to chat with him.

 

6 thoughts on “Departure Is Not An Option.

  1. Trump goes one direction and a good portion of America goes in the other. Alternative energy development provides jobs! Let’s do it!

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  2. The mistake we on the left make is assuming that actions like withdrawing from the Paris Accord is an “error” on the part of the Republicans. It is not. It is to be expected given their rhetoric for the last forty years. Like their stated desire to end Social Security and Medicare, like their stated desire to privatize all government fuctions (like the Post Office and public education), like their stated desire to make the U.S. a Christian nation, allowing the fossil fuel industry and other corporations to poison the planet because free enterprise is more important is central to their politics.

    We will not convince them that they have made en error. No amount of public outrage will change their course. They are Party over country and free capitalism over Party. Neither Mother Earth, nor “other” people, nor the future factor into the equation.

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    • Maren, One might contrast two views of the world: one in which the success of a society is based on how much money is kept out of the governments pocket, and another that has a broader definition of the quality of life in a society and a nation. Clean air and clean water are an integral part of a more sophisticated and compassionate definition of what it means to share A city, a country, or a planet, with others.

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  3. The party of The Mother….I truly like that idea! thanks for sharing, Judy. I am grateful for your passion, intelligence and eloquence. we need more people such as yourself.

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  4. Judy,

    I agree with you on the substance re the environment. But I would suggest that your contribution makes three key mistakes, grotesque mistakes:

    (1) it ignores the arguments on the other side (whatever they are); (are there such arguments) If so, deal with them (basic debating knowledge re rebuttals, nèst-ce-pas*question mark*);

    (2) your suggestion that we watch Big Industry, Big Cities, and Big Thinkers.

    I find this profoundly repellent. As someone who works with small businesses yourself, you should no better than to praise `Big Industry`; likewise with (2) `Big Cities` You have had the opportunity to reside in more than one `Big City` yourself; you work in one. Do you want to live in one *question mark* Apparently not, becuz you don`t. Hellhole Big Cities are part of the problem not part of the solution;

    I believe in watching those nefarious groupings, and doing the opposite. Small Business, Localism, and particularist traditions I prefer to your Satanic trilogy;

    (3) Big Thinkers; are there really more `Big Thinkers`on the Left than on the Right *question mark* I utterly disbelieve that Musk, Tyson, or Friedman are `Big Thinkers` in any sense. They are simply dispensers of conventional wisdom to ignorant masses.

    Of which you, Judy, are of course not one.

    Alan

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  5. Alan, I picked those first three because they were the first big three I saw that gave me hope in the face of what I consider to be a disappointingly profound lack of global leadership by this president on the issue of climate change. It’s disappointing in and of itself, first. Second, it’s just one more in a series of actions that reflect the polarized dynamic of American federal politics. This president, supported to varying degrees by the GOP members of Congress depending on the issue, is energetically leading the charge to undo as much of the previous Administration’s initiatives and policies as possible, because that’s what he said he would do (unless he decides he isn’t going to do it or can’t do it). This president believes that much of what the previous Administration did was deeply wrong, and believes that the vast majority of the Obama Administration’s policies damaged America, and sees it as his patriotic duty to fix those things. Enough people voted for him that he has a mandate to make those changes.

    The pendulum swings, I realize. Approximately half of those who vote in an American federal election endure — or are somewhere between disappointed, damaged, or destroyed — by four or eight years of policies and sometimes leaders and elected representatives with which/whom they profoundly disagree. Sometimes those in the minority are able to slow down or stop or change the direction of policies they don’t like. Sometimes, or often, not at all or not until the next election.

    I will admit that each of the last four Republican presidents made me regard his predecessor with wistful nostalgia. And I try not to imagine what kind of president would make me wish for the return of the current one.

    I cannot fathom how hard it is to be President of the United States — no matter what party is in the White House. I cannot imagine how he (or someday she or even they) can get up in the morning and function with the heavy and diverse responsibilities of that job EVERY SINGLE DAY. On top of that, this president is a troubled man on more levels than I can count, and more that we the public will know until after the biographies are written years from now. I just hope Bob Woodward is around to write at least one of those biographies.

    I admit to being one of the numbed: one of those who just keep reading the lists of events and incidents related to the current Administration and the White House annotated by the phrase, “THIS IS NOT NORMAL” and thinking either, “Well, it is now,” or “…But that’s what the government is doing, and that’s how those in power are responding to accusations, and that’s how the courts and congress are doing their jobs.”

    I’ve said before that it’s not sensible or constructive or even healthy to wake up furious and threatened every morning. There have been plenty of blog posts encouraging people to pick an issue, dig in, make friends, do some work, have some fun, find strength, contribute SOME effort or resources to build the world we want to live in, if we are fortunate enough to have ANY time/money/resources/ideas to spare. If we DO have resources to spare, we have a responsibility to work on behalf of those who might be similarly-minded or who would benefit from pushing for changes in policy direction that would be otherwise unlikely.

    Activism isn’t just feel good. It is both selfish and altruistic. Activism supports those who are threatened and don’t have the time, money or resources to even post or blog, let alone march or contribute funds or work for a candidate or register voters. It includes, for instance, the approximately 22 million people (many of whom voted for Trump) who will be without health care coverage under the proposed AHCA, including those who have no jobs, and those who are working multiple jobs and are unable to pay their bills.

    Activism is another way we care for one another as citizens and as human beings.

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