Saturday, June 3, 2017

Total Withdrawal

"Strange to relate, as a result of my travels around the United States the past seven years, I begin to come to the disquieting conclusion that we Americans are these days a wicked people who deserve to be punished. The idea embarrasses me, but I nevertheless stand by it." - James Howard Kunstler, 1996
"No, no, no. Not God bless America - God damn America!!" - Jeremiah Wright, 2003
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When Donald Trump announced that the United States was beginning a withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, I started hyperventilating.  I began getting chest pains.  I literally felt sick.  I started spitting on the ground - repeatedly.   This agreement - hammered out in a foreign capital, which left many of Trump's supporters in the cultural backwaters of America up in arms - was the best possible agreement to minimize increases in carbon dioxide emissions and incentivize the development of alternative energy sources that could have been reached, and virtually the entire planet was on board with it - but not Trump's base, not Environmental Destruction Agency chief Scott Pruitt, not climate-change-denying Republican morons like James Inhofe, and not Steve Bannon.  Rex Tillerson, yes.  Ivanka Trump, yes.  Bannon, no. 
Trump claims that he's putting America's interests first, but he's really taken us Americans out of the effort to improve the well-being of the planet and taken us out of opportunities to capitalize on new energy technologies and to develop a more profitable and sustainable "green economy."  For Trump, of course, America's biggest interest is getting the coal-mining industry going again to create more jobs.  (He might as well try to being back the buggy whip or phonograph industries, because they ain't coming back either!)  He boasted about putting Pittsburgh ahead of Paris, which would make sense - alliterative names, comparison of a blue-collar city to an effeminate, elitist enclave (I can alliterate, too) where men design clothes and women wear them to the opera - if not for the fact that the Democrats carried Pittsburgh in the 2016 presidential election.  
Some American cities, like Trump's hometown of New York City (another city full of fashion and culture) and Newark (which has neither, but that's another post), and whole states, including New York, California and Washington, are sticking with the Paris Agreement.  And New Jersey might join in if Democrat Phil Murphy is elected governor this November as expected.  But as long as big states like Texas can't be bothered, none of that matters much.  The United States has about only four percent of the world's population but is the second biggest emitter of carbon dioxide.  It is now one of only three countries not in the Paris Agreement, the others being Syria and Nicaragua.  Syria is run by a brutal dictator fighting two enemies at once in two wars at once (the Syrian Civil War and the war against the would-be country founded by the Islamic State), so Bashar al-Assad obviously can't be bothered to save the planet when he can't even save his part of it.  And the only reason the Sandinista government in Nicaragua hasn't signed on to the Paris Agreement is because the Sandinistas think it doesn't go far enough.  And don't think the White House won't try to retard local efforts at living up to Paris on the grounds that state and local governments can't abide by an international agreement not subscribed to by the federal government.
And the Paris Agreement isn't the only one of those international accords we're not part of, let me tell you.
Trump indicated in advance of his announcement that he would offer a mitigating factor to environmentalists.  I'd like to say he threw them a crumb, but it's more insignificant than that.  He said he would re-enter the agreement if he can - you guessed it - renegotiate it.  France, Germany and Italy made it clear that a renegotiation was not going to happen.
While about 70 percent of Americans support the Paris Agreement, though, I wonder - would most Americans support more concrete efforts to combat climate change? Would they live in smaller houses, drive smaller cars, maybe even take mass transit to work?  Would they agree to pay more for more environmentally friendly products?  Would they stop using so many disposable items, like paper plates and plastic utensils?  Would they be willing to give up their barbecues?  Their chemically treated lawns?  Their cheap, petrochemically produced foodstuffs?  Would they pay more taxes to support any environmental initiative??? 
I am thoroughly disgusted by my country and I am ashamed to be an American.  Even if we re-enter the Paris Agreement under a future Democratic President (yeah, right, like we're actually ever going to have another Democratic President!), how will the rest of the world ever trust us again???    
As of 3:30 PM, Thursday, June 1, 2017, when Trump pulled this sorry excuse for a nation out of the Paris Agreement, the United States is now the pond scum on the waters of humanity.  We will most likely be punished by the rest of the world.  Maybe we'll be boycotted.  That means no foreign tourists.  Even if Trump does bring back American manufacturing, foreigners may just decide not to buy our products.  They might not buy our apples and oranges or our corn and soybean products.  How about cultural boycotts?  No more U.S. concert tours from Adele.  She may decide not to release her next album here.  Ditto Ed Sheeran.   No Balkan tennis players at the U.S. Open.  And no Olympics in 2024 for Los Angeles.  The LA bid committee members, who are waiting for the International Olympic Committee to decide on the location for the 2024 Games in September,  might as well turn out the lights and go home, including Athletes Commission Vice Chair Janet Evans (Janet, I love you, but Los Angeles'  2024 bid is toast now - you know it and I know it!).  The 2024 Games will now most likely be awarded to . . . Paris.  As for the Tokyo Games in 2020 or even the 2018 Winter Olympics, we might even be allowed to send a team to them!      
Mark my words.  We will pay.  We are going to be ostracized at any international gatherings we do take part in.  We may be banned from entering other countries.  We may suffer an energy crisis - oh, the irony! - not only if the Saudis stop selling us oil but if the Chinese don't sell us their wind turbines - which they probably got the know-how for from Americans.  We will be the second most miserable people on the face of the earth.
The most miserable people on the face of the earth, of course, will be the Syrians. :-( >:-(     

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