Opinion

Trump declares war on the planet

Pulling the US out of the Paris agreement is a threat to us all, but there might be some hope, writes George Browning

By George Browning

June 2 2017Let’s name Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris agreement on climate change for what it is: a war on the planet, including a war on the American people.
 
If there were no mitigating circumstances, and there are as we will see in a moment, this decision would have been as serious as a decision to initiate a nuclear confrontation with a foreign power.  The difference between the two is the frog in the pot of boiling water. We can have opinions about almost everything, but an opinion and a fact are two entirely different matters. Senator Malcolm Roberts this week asked the CSRIO’s chief scientist “shouldn’t scientists keep an open mind?”

“Yes,” he responded, “but not to the extent that their brains leaks out”.  

Because of Trump’s obsession with ‘a deal’, which means a profit sadly (often) carved out of disadvantage for someone else, he has a price for everything but value for nothing. The gradual warming of the planet since the commencement of the Industrial Revolution and the escalation of the rate of warming since the late 20th century is a fact. That dire consequences flow from continuing escalation in warming is a fact. That future generations depend upon moral decisions made in the present, for the choices will not be available to them in future, years is fact.
 
It is also fact that big business understands this reality and company executive after company executive has advised Trump not to do what he has done. Only Trump would have the Machiavellian imagination to say that climate change is a Chinese conspiracy, a bizarre change from a conspiracy concocted by scientists to perpetuate a funding base.
 
In light of this most appalling and irresponsible announcement how can there be mitigating circumstances?
 
· Global business future lies with renewables because as renewable technology improves almost by the month, and as its use becomes ubiquitous, renewable energy will increasingly replace fossil fuels as an investment choice.

· Large states like California are world leaders in renewable energy and the decision of POTUS will have no impact upon them.

· American companies will now be locked out of discussions with serious economic implications for them. They will presumably make their pain known to the President.

· Trump’s decision will not restore coal mining jobs.  Even if coal mines that have closed were to be reopened they can only operate at a profit and profit means minimum labour and maximum automation.

· This announcement will make little tangible difference in the short term. It is highly likely that the more scandalous his presidency becomes the more likely it is that he will be a one term president and that as he has reversed his predecessor’s decision, so his can be reversed. This will be particularly the case if, as is likely, the decision will in fact harm America’s economy.
 
The situation is serious, but were we expecting anything different? Trump is making America less and less relevant to the goal of a fair and sustainable world. It would thus be foolish of Australia to place the same value on its alliances as it has in the past, a new world order is emerging, a world order that under Trump America is being reduced to a bit player rather than holding the lead role.

Dr George Browning is the former Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn. This article was published on his blog on 1 June 2017. See http://www.georgebrowning.com.au