By Kent Woodruff
I am glad Mr. Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord. Despite everything he said in his Rose Garden speech that was factually challenged (just about everything he said), at least he did not pretend that his administration has an interest in reducing the carbon pollution we put in the air. If he had not joined Daniel Ortega and Bashar al Assad as the only other leaders not participating in the voluntary cooperative Paris agreement, it might have been misinterpreted by some that the aTrump administration cares about what is slowly filling up our sky and making it harder and harder for the earth to exhale.
“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, we will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord,” he said. The withdrawal actually harms American citizens and gives away our seat at the table for working together with nearly every other country in the world. It does help China, India, Brazil and even Russia, who now have one less economic competitor for the future of clean energy and low carbon transportation. It’s the direction that world is going and our government is turning its back on an obvious opportunity. The withdrawal certainly elevates our global irrelevancy at a time when the coal miners of Wyoming and West Virginia are going to need as many options as possible.
The Nixon administration was a progressive giant for protecting citizens when it tackled DDT in our food, mercury in our water and lead in the air we breathe. Those problems, large as they were, were minor compared to the complicated worldwide impact of increasing carbon dioxide blanket in our atmosphere. Love Canal in New York was a famous pollution event that affected thousands of people including school children and infants. However, it was localized and was solved with the determination of concerned citizens and an engaged EPA. Today we are facing a much more complex global emergency that (nearly) all world leaders recognize and agree needs immediate urgent attention.
Cities like Minneapolis and Pittsburgh and Charlotte, and states like Illinois and Florida and Washington, will fill the national leadership void for their citizens. Close to 80 percent of us (and growing) recognize the economic threat that more fires, floods, water shortages, violent storms, sea level rise, ocean poisoning and snowpack loss mean for peoples’ livelihoods. Right here in Okanogan County, we are seeing the climate-related floods and wild fires that continue to be an increasing economic burden.
Draconian is a word Mr. Trump used in his speech. It is apt since his action to withdraw from a worldwide plan where each country examines its own carbon impact and sets its own goals and targets (with adjustments possible along the way) is the definition of Draconian: “unusually severe or cruel.”
“We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us,” Mr. Trump said. Instead, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, New Zealand, Brazil, India, China, Russia and others immediately reaffirmed the commitments made to each other last year. Instead of laughing, it seems that many allies are looking forward with the sad realization that America is no longer a world leader nor a partner to be counted on. At least the message in the Rose Garden was an honest statement to the world and American people that this administration has no intention of working cooperatively on climate change. That uncharacteristic honesty was perhaps a shot in the arm that might just galvanize the rest of us. It does inspire me to work even harder toward a reduced-carbon future; smart, clean jobs; and a better outlook for my family and my neighbors and their kids, and for that I am grateful.
Kent Woodruff lives in Twisp.