Yesterday President Trump announced that he would halt implementation of the Paris Climate Accords, and thus remove the United States from the voluntary pact. This accord has been agreed to by almost the entire world. We hear that the America First party in the White House won the debate. Though the President suggests that the accords are bad for the United States and will cost millions of jobs, the fact that many of America's largest companies, including energy companies supported staying in, as well as our allies across the world, perhaps suggests otherwise.
Here's my take. I doubt very much that the President's rationale holds much water, economically or environmentally. On the other hand, I'm not sure that this is as apocalyptic a moment as suggested by some critics. What it does suggest, however,, is that at least on environmental matters, the United States is ceding leadership to others. That China is poised to fill the gap, largely in self-interest to curb horrific air pollution, should catch our attention. We may have the largest military in the world, and the largest economy in the world, but maybe all of this is a sign of America's decline.
To switch issues for a moment, consider the question of immigration. The President campaigned on a Nativist platform,and listens to anti-immigrant partisans (Bannon and Sessions), but as the President of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank has pointed out this anti-immigrant sentiment is having a negative economic impact. That's because immigrants don't necessarily take jobs from Americans, they often create them, both through entrepreneurial efforts and through spending (we're a consumer-driven economy after all). Is fear of being displaced pushing America to circle the wagons (and there's enough of this on the left as on the right -- consider the anti-TPP sentiment during the recent election).
So, back to Paris. On simple economic grounds, we are shooting ourselves in the foot. There might be short-term gains by propping up remnants of an old economy, along with the dying coal industry, but in the long term this looks a bit like propping up the horse and buggy industry as the horseless carriage began to take hold early in the 20th century. As China already knows, the future is solar and wind, not coal. It would be good if President Trump followed suit.
Now, as for the moral/ethical dimension of this. Since a Michigan Congressman (Tim Walberg), suggested that climate change is something to be left to God to fix, and not humans, let me just point out a verse from Scripture. It's right up front, in the first chapter of the first book of the Bible. In Genesis 1:
I want to point one's attention to the charge given to humanity -- to take care of the creation. So, maybe we should look closer at these accords, not with apocalyptic eyes, but very realist and moral eyes -- both for the world's sake, and for that of the United States!