Sunday, June 11, 2017

I Thought We'd Always Have Paris


Subject: The Arc de Triomphe (Arch of Triumph), at the center of the place Charles de Gaulle, Paris | Date: 10/21/2007 | Photographer: Benh LIEU SONG |This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." ~ W. Durant

For the last two weeks the news has been dominated by reports of the of the Russian scandal.  As a result we have all but forgotten the image of Donald Trump on the White House lawn proudly announcing our withdrawal from the Paris Accord.  His justification for the withdrawal was that it would save the country billions of dollars.

Again Trump's facts are a bit askew.  The Accord is basically a gentlemen's agreement between countries to limit carbon emissions in order to slow climate change. While goals for lower emissions are set for each country, there are no enforceable financial consequences for not meeting those goals.

Trump also claims that the withdrawal from the Accord will create American coal jobs, however, the clean energy industry promises to create more jobs than coal or oil.

I believe the real reason for the withdrawal is that Donald Trump doesn't believe in climate change, so he doesn't see the value of any environmental regulation.  In 2017 it's baffling for anyone to not believe in climate change.

Not long ago, the North Pole recorded temperatures of 36 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time ever.  While that still sounds cold, it's above freezing.  If the pole is above freezing, ice melts.  If too much ice melts the ocean rises and Boise, Idaho becomes a coastal town.

When I was young, I used to watch George Reeves as Superman.  At the beginning of every episode, the announcer says "Superman stands for truth, justice and the American way."  We all knew what the term "American way" meant.  It carried with it images of nobility and global leadership.  When we pulled out the Accord that brand was damaged, if not destroyed.  We literally had the President of France shaming us on YouTube asking Trump to "Make the world great again."

We've become a joke in the eyes of the world.  Don't forget that while he was pulling us out the Accord, he was also chomping at the bit to take medical coverage away from 23 million Americans, making us the only civilized nation in the world not to have universal healthcare.

Given the number of destructive proposals coming from the White House it would be easy to agree with Shakespeare by seeing us as "a selfish brooding lot."  I don't believe that's entirely fair.  While our leaders are misguided at best, evil at worst, I believe most Americans are still good.  Millions of Americans volunteer their time at churches, schools, hospitals, soup kitchens and programs for the elderly and the handicapped in order to make their country a better place.

If our leaders have become unwilling to do what's right, it's up to us to make our voices heard and keep them accountable.  Otherwise Russia won’t need to attack our elections, America will destroy itself from within.

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