By Brian McKay
Well it is over now. It’s done. Only about 120 million people support the (ever larger) orange one with a favorable rating. About 60 million support him no matter what he does by telling pollsters they strongly support him. Those numbers encompass almost the total number of people in the world that see leaving the Paris Agreement as a good thing. It sounds awful, but worldwide the only major group that questions climate change are the hardcore Trump supporters (i.e. Republicans). They also happen to be the same group that thinks rich people will slowly have money fall out of their hands and down into theirs if we let them get richer.
The majority of Americans actually believe in climate change with 69% supporting limitations of CO2 on existing coal fired plants according to data from the Yale Program on Climate Communications. The will of the American people just got overridden by a government that does not represent us and is not in touch with world sentiment. We are now seen as the assholes of the world whose president just flipped 7.4 billion people the bird.
With one act the U.S. has now ceded global leadership to China. Yes, China that grew off coal is now rapidly going green and accounts for 30% of world spending on green energy. Simply staying on track and reaching their goals for a percentage of energy produced by renewables, tells the world that China cares and the U.S. doesn’t. While we may have the strongest military we no longer have the standing that gave it any value. In fact, we might soon have little of value left for it to defend. The American Empire is quickly coming to an end.
Many Americans don’t realize just how much that finger stood out to the rest of the world. The U.S. grew off fossil fuels. We industrialized with the benefit of oil and coal well ahead of the rest of the world. Our contribution to global CO2 is over 30 percent of the historical total with 4% of the world population. Currently we represent 15% of yearly total tons of CO2 as measured by the EPA in 2014. While China is now emitting double our CO2 emissions, we also forget that much of that CO2 was created using energy to make the cheap goods we buy here. The U.S. creates the most CO2 per person in the world.
Countries around the world see Trump claiming that the U.S. is getting a bad deal, while watching the main culprit of climate change walk away with all the benefits and taking none of the responsibility. The Paris Agreement was actually letting us off easy, but the minority of the U.S. that doesn’t understand the notion of tradeoffs, didn’t see it that way.
Many Trump supporters have been spouting the statements from his speech on withdrawal from the agreement as proof that we are doing the right thing by joining Syria (Syria! A dictator that gasses his own people) in the exclusive group of dumb nations that refuse to help save the world. In a world full of fact checkers, only the “fake news” crowd can justify the delusion of thinking anything Trump says is true.
The dismal world of the U.S. shuttering coal plants and losing 2.7 million jobs while China and India polluted with abandon works well with the Fox News fear crowd. Quoting a study from pro-business think tank NERA for the Council of Capital Formation, a group that counts oil and gas and coal companies in its membership, the dire warning stated the total lost jobs as 2.7 million by 2025 and 6.5 million by 2040. The cost of these lost jobs would be $3 trillion. Trump took the worst possible outcome from a study funded by an anti-Paris Agreement group and quoted it as gospel. According to Scientific American (all of the fact checking can be found in the link), other studies show impact at only .2 - .35 percent of GDP, a small price to pay for our children’s future. Growth in green energy could actually create a growth scenario far beyond anything fossil fuels could provide.
Maybe the worst part of all of this is the statement that was made to our children. It is a commonly known fact that people can’t eat money. Donald Trump’s speech should have added the lines, “Hey! And you kids over there, you can just go fuck yourselves. The science denial of my diminishing constituency and myself matter more. Now go play in the newly dry creek bed.”
It’s as simple as this: if you love your kids, it’s time for us all to fight back.