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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Abbreviated pundit roundup: Trump vs the planet


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We begin today’s roundup with The New  York Times and it’s take on Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris agreement:
Only future generations will be able to calculate the full consequences of President Trump’s incredibly shortsighted approach to climate change, since it is they who will suffer the rising seas and crippling droughts that scientists say are inevitable unless the world brings fossil fuel emissions to heel.
But this much is clear now: Mr. Trump’s policies — the latest of which was his decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change — have dismayed America’s allies, defied the wishes of much of the American business community he pretends to help, threatened America’s competitiveness as well as job growth in crucial industries and squandered what was left of America’s claim to leadership on an issue of global importance.
Here’s Ryan Cooper’s analysis at The Week:
[U]nder Trump the United States has ceded whatever lingering threads of global leadership it had not already shredded by pointless wars of aggression and financial doomsday devices; we are now something of a pariah state. On climate change, it now falls to Europe, China, and India to corral this blundering, addled elephant of a nation, until our janky political machinery can eject Trump and the Republican Party from power. 
The Tampa Bay Times tears into the decision:
President Donald Trump undermined the nation's security and American leadership in the world with his announcement Thursday that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. The move amounts to a staggering abdication of this nation's responsibility for the warming climate, and it will encourage more countries and industries to ignore the impact of rising temperatures and seas on public health and safety. While Trump offered a vague commitment to re-enter talks to seek a more favorable deal, that is window-dressing a senseless decision, choosing to stand by his fanciful campaign promises to revive the coal industry rather than working with China and other polluters for the benefit of global health.
Meanwhile, Margaret Hartmann calls out Trump’s lies:
Trump complained that under the Paris agreement, “China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional coal plants. So, we can’t build the plants, but they can, according to this agreement. India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020.”
The agreement says no such thing. The coal industry is declining in China, India, and the U.S. due to market forces. Other energy sources like natural gas, wind, and solar are cheaper and cleaner. 
Eugene Robinson argues that Trump is “abdicating all the country’s moral power”:
The only other nations that have rejected the Paris pact are Syria and Nicaragua — not the kind of company the United States usually keeps. The rest of the world is going about the business of making big investments in clean-energy technology. The next breakthrough in solar power is likely to be made in China or Germany, not here.
President Trump has decided to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. Here's what you need to know. (Daron Taylor/The Washington Post)
Energy policy is just one area where Trump is encouraging the rest of the world to go on without us. Much more urgently, Trump has called into question the U.S. commitment to the transatlantic alliance, which for seven decades has been the world’s most important guarantor of peace and engine of prosperity.
Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suesaeng at The Daily Beast:
On a separate conference call on Wednesday, White House deputy communications director Raj Shah encouraged conservative pundits and representatives from free market think tanks to incorporate White House talking points into statements, op-eds, and tweets supporting the president’s decision. [...] Shah’s assurances to those present on the call—including representatives from the American Enterprise Institute, the Heartland Institute, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, all conservative or climate-skeptical think tanks—indicated the degree to which Trump’s decision appealed to more ideological segments of the right-wing political world.
On a final note, John Cassidy at The New Yorker writes about the consequences of the decision on the world stage:
In writing the speech that Trump delivered on Thursday, Bannon—or Stephen Miller, or whoever composed it—gave free rein to Trump’s maniacal, zero-sum view of the world. The Paris accord wasn’t portrayed as the well-meaning, nonbinding, and, in many ways, modest deal that Barack Obama agreed to join in 2015. Trump spoke of it as if it were an urgent threat to the economic livelihood of god-fearing Americans. “Therefore, in order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw,” Trump said. He could have left it there, but he didn’t. This was to be a lengthy repudiation of environmentalists, and a paean to the coal miners and other hardhats whom the globalists had trampled on. It was a blowback to those who thought, when Trump declined to pull the United States of out of nafta, that the globalists inside his Administration—the Gary Cohns and Rex Tillersons—had neutered the nationalistic America Firsters. And, above all, the speech was a “screw you” to the world beyond America’s borders—to the Macrons and Merkels who had pleaded with the President in vain not to take this step. [...]
What once seemed like a punch line—Donald Trump in the White House—is now an everyday reality that the rest of the world is trying to deal with. After this latest display of nihilism, it only seems more alarming.

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