I know this is usually a music blog, and apologies to my regular readers for the change in topic today – this is just a one off. I’m hardly qualified to be a political commentator, but wanted to vent a little.
I was appalled but not surprised by Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord today, making USA the only country apart from Syria and Nicaragua to not support it. I find it very difficult to take any arguments against the reality of human-accelerated climate change seriously – it’s possible to see symptoms all around us, 97% of scientists agree, while it seems logical that there’s a consequence from the combination of deforestation and burning fossil fuels.
Despite myself, I couldn’t help being impressed by Trump’s election win in 2016 – he was able to essentially deflect attention away from policies by using the “Crooked Hilary” tagline and slogans that appealed to voters (“Make America great again”). Voters also gravitated to him as an outsider choice – someone who wasn’t tarred by political corruption and constrained by political conventions. Trump’s ability to tap into the political zeitgeist of a dissatisfied America has been impressive, and he’s continued the approach of an independent thinking outsider in his tenure as president.
Trump has run a successful business empire, but that doesn’t qualify him to handle the other issues that he has to deal with as the president of the USA. My perception of Trump is of someone whose values and policies are stuck in the 1950s, the years of his childhood and adolescence – while much of the world has moved away (at least publicly) from racism and sexism, Trump still exhibits these traits. And while the rest of the world is moving towards environmental sustainability, Trump seemingly wants to revive institutions like the American automotive industry of the 1950s. A forward thinking leader would be embracing new technologies and building clean industries around them – according to the Independent, in the USA solar power already employs more people than oil, coal and gas combined.
It’s not surprising that his lone wolf approach and his old school values have led him to lead America away from the Paris Accord – he’s gone on record as saying that he believes climate change is a NASA or a Chinese hoax, and his vision of the revitalisation of traditional industry is obviously at odds with the Accord. But it’s simply wrong, its potential effects on the rest of the world are potentially devastating, and it’s likely to be the thing he’s most remembered for. It’s also short sighted, as accelerated climate change and the resulting increases in extreme weather patterns will reduce productivity and economic growth, and the best thing we can do is move towards reducing carbon emissions now.
As someone in New Zealand, I don’t know what I can do to oppose Trump’s wrong-headed decision, and writing this public blog post is the best thing that I can think of.