• Abdicating Responsibility

    America versus the world!  For Donald Trump, it seems, the battle against global warming is a conspiracy against the US concocted by those who wish to do them down.  “I am the President for Pittsburgh,” he declares, “not Paris”.

    It does not seem to occur to him that the US – and Pittsburgh – are part of the world, and that if the battle to restrain global warming is lost, there will be no “get out of jail” card which will exempt the US from the consequences which the rest of us will also suffer.

    By pulling out of the Paris accord, the country which has emitted more greenhouse gases than any other is saying that it accepts no responsibility, and will pursue what it mistakenly sees as its own interests, irrespective of the damage done to others.

    As many of Trump’s critics, including Arnold Schwarzenegger – a fellow Republican and the former Governor of California – have pointed out, reducing greenhouse emissions is not a barrier to economic growth and employment, but is actually helpful to it.

    Trump’s decision, in other words, not only looks like a denial of the available scientific evidence about the causes and seriousness of the issue but is also a miscalculation of what is really in American interests.

    A United States that – joined only by Syria and Nicaragua – refuses to take action on climate change will not only be reviled around the world for its selfishness but will also be doing itself considerable economic damage.  Countries that apply themselves to finding alternative ways of going about their business without polluting the atmosphere will secure a long-term advantage over those that do not.

    So why has the American President arrived at what looks like an extremely short-sighted decision?  The most likely answer is also a very depressing one.

    Donald Trump secured his unexpected election victory by making a series of improbable promises to the American electorate.  The underlying theme of those promises was that they would supposedly “make America great again” by putting American interests first and hopefully, as a consequence, producing a growth in the number of American jobs.

    The uncertain and faltering start Trump has made to his Presidency, and the controversies that continue to swirl around the Russian involvement in his election, have made it all the more important, from his viewpoint, that he should be seen to be taking decisive action to fulfil his promises – and one of them, of course, was that he would pull the plug on the Paris accord, which he insisted was costing American jobs, particularly in the fossil fuel industries.

    Reneging on the climate change deal, unlike for example building the wall or the attempted ban on mainly Muslim arrivals, can be achieved by Trump simply deciding that it should be so.  Whatever the downsides, in other words, it has the great advantage that Trump cannot be deterred – and he can then proclaim that he has achieved one of his promises.

    We are forced to the unpalatable conclusion therefore that the new American President cares more about fulfilling campaign promises, however ill-advised, and in due course being re-elected, than he does about securing the best interests of the country he was elected to serve – to say nothing about the damage his decision will inflict on the rest of the world for generations to come.

    The focus of the Trump Presidency is, so it seems, to put Donald Trump and his own personal interests – both commercial and political – first, second and third, front and back, and anything else nowhere.  Whatever pleas might be made by those who know what is at stake, the new President is not for turning.  It is his own survival that matters to him, not what serves the interests of those who elected him – to say nothing of those who will find themselves paying the price around the globe.

    New Zealand’s interests will count for little, but that should not deter us and our government from expressing our concern at the first opportunity.  That opportunity is likely to occur when the new US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, visits us in the coming week.  He, and Donald Trump, should be left in no doubt as to where we stand on the issue.

    Bryan Gould

    3 June 2017







  1. Craig Brown says: June 5, 2017 at 12:57 amReply

    In fairness, Trump is probably relying on advice from John Shimkus in regard to climate change.
    And the chances of Bill and Gerry doing anything other than nodding in obsequience with whatever Rex Tillerson tells them to do?

  2. greywarbler says: June 5, 2017 at 6:23 amReply

    Probably Trump can’t speak any French, and would feel uncomfortable having foreigners attempting to translate sentences that can’t even be understood by USA speakers. He isn’t much good at handling political discussion, he doesn’t tell good jokes even if he is a clown, what’s his purpose? I found it restful listening to comedian Eddie Izzard giving a large part of his performance in French. He says he’s quite good, I wouldn’t know, but he is funny.

    I think the USA need someone like him standing beside Trump acting out the meaning of what is being said so that the slower voters can get the gist. He’d get great crowds to his ‘audiences’,
    Try him in Being Bilingual.

  3. greywarbler says: June 5, 2017 at 6:31 amReply

    Actually for the French te reo, afficionados should try Izzard’s Learning French. (Three different languages, a NZ head can’t hold much more!)

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