In June of 2017, President Donald Trump announced that the United States was pulling out of the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement was an acknowledgment of climate change with a promise of a global effort to reduce and limit its effects. After Syria signed the Paris agreement in November 2017, the United States became the only country to hold out from the agreement despite being the second-largest polluter in the world. Since a recent poll suggests that 70% of Americans support staying in the agreement, why has the Trump administration pulled out?
The first most obvious issue is a total ignorance concerning the true nature of global warming. In December Trump tweeted: “In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming.” Similar to Senator James Inhofe’s “snowball on the senate floor,” the use of individual cold events as evidence against global warming is completely irrelevant and ignorant. In fact, in the 2000s there were twice as many record high temperatures as record lows, but again, that is not the point of global warming. In the last century, the Earth’s average temperature has risen .7 degrees Celsius. Though this may seem insignificant (or part of the natural fluctuation of the Earth some say), this rate is ten times faster than any other natural heating of the Earth in history. Trump’s cold New Year’s Eve might actually support global warming. Environmentalists suggest that warming in the poles has actually expanded the polar vortex, which would make places like the northeast experience colder weather while the world’s climate is heating up. To put it into terms Trump might understand: weather is the cash in your pocket, climate is net worth. One day of cold hard cash doesn’t mean you can keep burning up your net worth.
The other argument against the Paris Agreement is the loss of jobs. Trump spoke to a group of coal miners, telling them he would put them “back to work.” If we’re hurting the environment at least we’re helping the American people of today, right? The entire coal industry employs, by the most recent estimate, 50,300 people. While that may sound like a lot, it is a little over half of the employment of Arby’s. Trump hopes to cling on to the coal industry rather than push for new clean energy. He believes that a shift to renewable energy will hurt the American economy, but many suggest otherwise. Elon Musk (probably a good guy to listen to), who left the presidential advisory council after Trump pulled out of Paris, suggested that refusing to invest in renewable energy will leave us straggling behind other countries in the energy sector. Regardless of global warming, renewable energy is the future, and clinging to coal will leave America behind―not to mention the thousands of jobs that will be created by the shift.
Trump’s decision was made from an isolationist, America-first doctrine: “Pittsburgh, not Paris.” Unfortunately, Pittsburgh is also on the globe. The Paris agreement isn’t for Paris, it’s for our Earth. We are the laughing stock of the world because of our ignorance and irresponsibility. The Earth is a finite resource, and without an exit plan, we need to make sure that we’re taking good care of it. We cannot leave it to future generations because by their time the damage will be done. Hopefully, with the public’s support, we can elect a president in 2020 who will re-enter us into the agreement and help save the world.