There are few things I feel confident in predicting with any certainty, but of this one I am certain. History will judge mercilessly President Trump’s reported decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement as the height of folly, where greed, cynicism, shortsightedness and ignorance triumphed over intelligence and leadership.
The implications for this action are far-reaching. There is hope that the rest of the world will move on, and the forces in this country at the state, local, and corporate level can lessen some of the repercussions. Renewable energy is on the rise, thanks also to market forces. But more is needed. Much more. This is not an issue with which we can trifle, and although Mr. Trump at his age and with his wealth will likely be immune to most of the long term consequences of his action, his descendants and those of his willing enablers will not.
That is the headline, but what is also clear is that the United States is no longer a leader. We have ceded the moral high ground to countries like those in Europe and even China who have no trouble understanding science and reason. This is a long-term threat to our own health and prosperity. We are retreating where we should be charging forward. We say we can’t when we should be saying we can. We are buying into an antiquated view of our global environment that will only isolate us and diminish us.
These are the stakes. Time is running out on the environment. It is time for some profiles in courage of Republicans in Congress to push back on the denialism that has wracked their party. And it is time for all of us to say that this is an issue of the top priority. Our elected leaders need to feel the heat – not only the thermostat but at the ballot box.