Today was a historically sad day as POTUS announced he is withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord. I watched his speech announcing this with frustration and anger but am now residing myself that maybe it is for the best. My frustration and anger stem from the flawed logic and false narrative that are being used to justify the exit. The primary focus was about the agreement being a bad deal for the U.S., how it is a ‘massive redistribution of wealth to other countries’ and how if the U.S. remained it would ‘become the laughing stock of the world’. He went on to boast about our existing “natural” (fossil fuel) energy sources and the value of using those to drive our energy needs. He went on to paint a picture of ‘brown outs, black outs, and businesses coming to a halt if the U.S. were to remain in the agreement’. Sometimes I think POTUS chooses to undo things his predecessor did or do the opposite of them just to stick it to him and then creates a narrative to support that, as opposed to critically thinking about what is truly best for our country.
In my opinion, if we were not already, we most definitely are now the laughing stock of the world. We join Syria and Nicaragua as the only nations not to be signed on to the Paris Climate Accord. Ironically, Nicaragua is not on board because they felt the goals were not aggressive enough and Syria has other priorities as you can imagine. Scott Pruitt (EPA) got to follow on and mentioned how ‘America finally has a president who answers only to the American people and not to special interests’. Which American people does he answer to when making such decisions? It is not the hundreds of U.S. based companies who asked him to remain in the accord, it is not the leaders of organized religions, it is not the countless U.S. scientists, and it is not the majority of Americans who support remaining in the agreement.
Consider that in the U.S. the clean energy sector is growing at 10x the rest of the U.S. economy. The idea of making America great again by reviving the coal industry, fracking, and drilling is short sighted and today marks the most irresponsible act of this president to date in my opinion. The silver lining is that had the U.S. remained in the accord, we would have been a total PITA for the other nations under the current administration. Now, they can forge ahead uninhibited as they have declared they will. As other nations adopt a clean energy economy with a carbon fee and dividend policy, It is logical to assume that the U.S. will at some point in the future face tariffs, sanctions, and taxes on our exports to account for the cost of carbon used to create those. If we follow the current MAGA mantra, the U.S. is certain to be left behind and let a huge opportunity to be world leader and innovator pass us by. It is sad that we cannot count on our own government to protect the habitability of our beautiful planet, but perhaps we can get this done via cities, states, and businesses until such a time that we have a leader with common sense and courage.
Pope Francis recently tweeted “We need to care for the earth so that it may continue, as God willed, to be a source of life for the entire human family.” Thursday (6/18/2015) Pope Francis is anticipated to release his encyclical to all bishops in the Catholic Church calling for action to address climate change. “Laudato Sii” (Praised Be), the encyclical is expected to speak in detail about the need to better care for God’s creation. Francis, who chose the name of St. Francis of Assisi (the patron saint of animals and the environment) has already had significant impact on beginning to transform the Catholic Church on numerous other topics and his pending efforts intended to accelerate global action on climate change, has those who protect the interests of the fossil fuels companies nervous.
The Popes’ outward position and pending ask of Catholics puts many of the politicians who deny climate change and are Catholic in an interesting place. Rick Santorum, John Boehner, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Chris Christie are among them. Santorum was one of the first to comment and stated “I think that we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re really good at, which is theology and morality. When we get involved with political and controversial scientific theories, I think the church is not as forceful and credible.” Assuming he were genuine in wanting to leave the science to the scientists, he would likely defer to the overwhelming 97% of scientists who agree we are cooking the planet by burning fossil fuels. Sticking with the old rhetoric that the science is not settled is just sad; the only place that the science is not settled in in the U.S. Congress. In terms of the church sticking to issues like morality, there is likely no greater moral issue than us not leaving the planet a better place for future generations. Surely he and others will be pressed on the subject during interviews and debates should they move forward with their desire to be POTUS.
Pope Francis encyclical comes in advance of his visit to the U.S. in September, when he will address Congress where about 30% of the members are Catholic. His encyclical will also be accompanied by a 12 week campaign that will bring environmental issues to the forefront in sermons, homilies, and media outlets. The follow up actions are timed to encourage nations to agree on a global climate change consensus in Paris at the end of the year. Aside from the recently estimated 1.2B Catholics, the Pope also has global reach and Jesus on his side as you can see from this entertaining video about the encyclical. I am excited to see this important issue brought forward to such a broad base of the human family by someone who sincerely cares about issues that matter.