Blowing out the candles

Can we keep the flame burning after Paris?
Donald Trump clapping American flag
Photo: Gage Skidmore

I’m not sure how many Americans actually paid attention, but Thursday was a rough one for those of us who enjoy the outdoors, who love our kids, and who understand that climate change is a huge threat to our country, our economy and our future.

In case you haven’t heard, Donald Trump stood up in the Rose Garden on Thursday afternoon and announced that the U.S. was pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

A fair amount of the subsequent media discussion focused on the nuts and bolts of the accord. Would it still hold together once the U.S. bailed? Was it strong enough to make a difference? How would Trump’s actions impact our relationships with China, India, Germany and Russia?

While all those questions are important, and while America’s abrogation of international leadership has attracted a ton of attention, both here and abroad, I’m afraid we’re missing the larger point.

Millions and millions of Americans who understand the nature of the climate crisis, and who fear for our families if global warming continues unabated, did not see the Paris Climate Agreement as a solution. We knew that, in and of itself, this version of the accord wouldn’t get the job done. What it was, though, was a symbol of hope; a pathway to a viable future.

There’s a certain comfort in knowing that people the world over face the same threat we face, and that humanity, en masse, sees the necessity of working together on a solution that will benefit us all.

At its core, the Paris Climate Agreement offered us the hope that we could address global warming and secure a safe and prosperous future for our children and grandchildren.

So when Trump turned his back on the accord, he didn’t just shift U.S. resources, or recalibrate our international relationships, or turn our energy policy in a new direction. Instead, he did his best to steal our future. His words tried to douse the flames of science and progress that illuminate the world and hold back the darkness.

In a very real sense, Thursday was a burning of books; a repudiation of shared wisdom. Trump, for reasons perhaps only he himself understands, tried to replace a symbol of hope with another, far darker image. The only question that remains is whether he succeeded, or whether those of us who prefer to walk in the light can keep the candles of knowledge and wisdom burning.


Our moronic Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, gave a glowing tribute to Trump pulling out of the Climate Accord. Someone should remind him that his home state, Montana, will soon no longer have a Glacier National Park. The glaciers are melting at a rate of hundreds of yards per glaciers, no Park, no tourists, no money. Thank Zinke.

"The agreement won't accomplish anything but anyone who opposes it is anti-science, a book burner, doesn't care about the kids, etc." Great job of pulling all the stupidity together in one place. News flash: all the hyperbole and demagoguery in the world won't change the fact that reasonable people can disagree on this issue!

What a complete load of disinformation! You might want to actually read the Paris Accord!
More about disadvantaging the US and wealth redistribution to the third world!
Do a little research and your feelings might not get hurt, additionally you won't embarrass yourself!

And you wonder where Trump finds his "true believers."

He finds his "true believers" among Americans who are informed about the issues and think for themselves.

The Paris Accord had nothing to do with solving the climate change "problem." The projected effect, assuming that all of the provisions were put into place, were essentially immeasurably small some 80 years into the future. This at the cost of trillions in lost jobs and decreased economic activity. The main feature of the Accord was a Green Fund to which the US was to contribute 30% of the total, $3 billion over 10 years, with no promise that any of the major polluters would chip in a dime. In fact to date, the US has been the only contributor to the tune of $1 billion. The US is leading in the right direction on this issue.

Man, I felt like this article was cut short, that it was an introduction rather than an good and yet lacking in folloe-through. Come on guys, add some meat and potatoes to this thing - I feel like I've been left hanging and want to finale.

The PCA wasn't perfect. I've read it. I understand why, at first glance, the comments above seem almost valid. Yes, the US was to take the lead, financially and in many other ways. The $3bil noted by one of the folks above is correct (now only $1bil), but that is a total, not per capita. In fact, we would be paying far less than 10 other developed countries when population is taken into account.

Other comments like to state that top polluters don't pay anything (eg. China)... which again, at a glance, is true. But they are actually paying more than we would have ($3.1 bil) in a parallel fund called the South-South Coop. Climate Fund. We, by the way are a bigger polluter per capita.

The biggest argument for pulling of PCA seems to be jobs. FF industry (total) currently supports more jobs than renewables, but per million bucks, solar and wind support 7.5 jobs and FF only support 2.5 ( Solar passed coal and is now approaching oil. So congrats China... the US gov has handed over the industry to you! Seems like we have chosen the energy of the past, not the the future.
So trillions (!) lost in jobs to the PCA is ridiculous.

What's crazy to me is that this accord was the largest gathering of political leaders in the history of humanity. We came together do address a problem. And now the US has joined Syria and Nicaragua on the sidelines. Impressive.

But that's ok. Minds are made up. And we can stick our heads in the sand. Blame fake news and scientific conspiracies. My statements won't change minds. So I'll just find a quiet place on the river, enjoy some fishing and say a prayer for my kid's future.

Umm, "keeping the candles burning" is a poor metaphor for encouraging reduction in carbon footprint.