The God Emperor pulled us out of the Paris Climate Accord the other day, which caused quite the stir amongst the left. Reactions ranged from “how regrettable” to assertions of impeding doom and it seems like the latter was more common than the former.
Trump’s base seemed pretty happy with the decision and admittedly he scored a pretty good soundbite with his “I was elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris” line.
I’m absolutely in favor of pulling out of this treaty, with an asterix. I view it as little more than an outlet for developed nations to throw some cash at a problem, deflect culpability and even pat themselves (ourselves) on the back for being able to say we bought some solar panels for Burkina Faso or whatever. However I’d like to see us follow our own path, one of meaningful solutions that are simple but maybe not easy.
Normally I groan when I hear objections to environmentalism in the way of “it’s going to hurt jobs”. If something needs to be done, it needs to be done. If there’s a guy getting paid to dump toxic sludge in a river or something, I’d prioritize the health of that waterway over his paycheck any day. In this case I think there really is an economic argument that the price tag isn’t worth the results that this program promises…and who knows if it’ll actually deliver the modest results they project.
To me it seems like a make-work program for bureaucrats that they’ll know countries will fund because “it’s for the climate” – how could anyone close their wallet to that? It’s almost like the “think of the children!” slam dunk. If you don’t fund the program, they can come up with all kinds of doomsday scenarios that will surely ensue…and all they need is a modest couple of trillion dollars to prevent it.
I absolutely believe that this program and others like it are geared towards taking advantage of others’ good intentions for meaningless results. Fortunately our guy balked at it.
My biggest objection to this brand of environmentalism is the laziness it encourages. It completely removes individual responsibility from the discussion and whittles societal responsibility down to a matter of signing a check while counting on “science” to come up with something to allow everyone to continue to live the same lifestyle, only more “green”.
Sadly, Trump’s rejection is only going to encourage more of that laziness. Now any and all environmental crises that should arise are going to be pinned on one man. The ability to say “thanks, Drumpf!” is going to put a shadow over any uncomfortable inward reflection as a private individual or at a societal level on how you/we got to wherever it is you/we end up. I really believe that a large segment of the population believes that voting the right way or even simply “caring” is good enough. I don’t see a huge difference between how one side of the debate lives over the other…just how they “feel”.
Admittedly it is very hard to live a true sustainable lifestyle in the developed world. This is a problem. The infrastructure just isn’t there to do so and I’ll be the first to admit that at this point I almost take a “ride the tiger” approach and accept that some day it’ll all come to a heed whether we like it or not.
On that note, the asterix I spoke of is that I would like to see the Trump admin do *something* meaningful in the way of the environment. He would be the right guy for high speed rail that many Americans dream of or revamping many towns and small cities in the Rust Belt/Great Lakes/New England area that are very well suited to real human-scale living with walkable streets, buildings that were built to last, etc. There are many places in the US that pretty much just need a fresh coat of paint and could be billed as the green villages of the future – because they were built in an era where fossil fuels weren’t readily available.
I suppose subsidizing our “green energy” sector would be good too, as long as we had realistic expectations of what it can do for us, what it can’t and what the cost of it is. Part of the deal with the Paris accord is to provide clean energy for the developing world. If it’s all the same in terms of thinking globally on carbon output, what’s the difference if we just do it here for ourselves?
At the end of the day, Trump did remove us from the Paris Accord. What he didn’t do though was remove you from the Backyard Accord. Or the Household Accord. Or the Neighborhood Accord, nor the Community Accord. There’s way too much that can be done at the individual, family or community level to improve the environment to believe that a (flawed) deal like the Paris Accord should make or break anything.