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At least the political face of global anti-environmentalism has been established…

June 2, 2017


And it just so happens that the face of anti-climate change action is also the face of a disgusting and delusional race-baiting sex criminal.  In a way – this helps.

Yesterday Trump announced that the USA would be the only nation not to support the Paris Agreement.   I know there’s Syria and Nicaragua – but Syria isn’t really a country right now, and Nicaragua is protesting the fact that the Paris agreement doesn’t go nearly far enough to enforce climate change action.

Already cities, and states within the USA have declared that they will meet their own environmental targets, regardless of what Trump says.   Trump is radically out of step with majority opinion even within his own country.  While he declares he represents Pittsburgh rather than Paris, Pittsburgh’s precincts voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton and he doesn’t represent them at all.

As far as the rest of the world, with the Trump administration ducking out of negotiations, the rest of the world may well be freed up to set tougher targets, to become more imaginative and ambitious when it comes to constructing a survivable future for us all.

This is no time for despair for those of us with a passing interest in the survival of our grandchildren.  Action on climate change can and will accelerate.  The pragmatic science of low carbon energy production and transportation has proved spectacularly successful in recent years.  Germany and India are committed to 100% electric car production in the next few decades.  The unit cost of electricity generated from solar and wind sources has plummeted.  Any rational economic strategy would look at such numbers and skate to where the puck is going to be rather than where it has been (Wayne Gretzky).  To invest in coal rather than renewables is like digging canals during the age of steam.  But Trump has never been about rational economic strategy.  His decades of managerial mismanagement and serial bankruptcies prove as much.  He is about the casual thuggery and contemptuous entitlements of hereditary oligarchs.  He stands by fossil fuels because fossil fuels have stood by him.

As Marx noted, “après moi le déluge is the watchword of every capitalist”.  Marx was describing the physical exhaustion of the proletariat, but the deluge to which he refers looks like being literalised in the context of global warming.  Certainly, in the event of human extinction, given the current social and economic order, billionaires will be the last to die.  Not that Trump is thinking this far ahead.

Trump is doing this because a peculiarly stunted, blinkered, dull, stupid and miserable variant of “American Exceptionalism” has served him well in the past and he is too shallow and unreflexive a creature to consider ever challenging a rhetoric which might serve his own short term interests.  Indeed, the idea that there might exist, on planet Earth, any need or concern that might compete with Donald Trump’s short term interests never occurs to him.  There’s a great deal that never occurs to him.

Trump’s global isolationism plays well to his base of course.  If the entire world disagrees with the USA then Trump must be doing something right as far as they are concerned.  Trump is pulling out of Paris because by doing so he is reinforcing the great binary of US and THEM – THEM – being a world united in its foreignness – 200 nations collectively defined primarily by their notbeingamericanness.  When such alt-right (fascist) “anti-globalists” shout “God bless America” they cheer a vicious and petty deity whose only cosmic purpose is to ensure that white male US citizens feel better than other humans.

As an Irish and European citizen, I feel perplexed by isolationist patriotism.  The cry of “American First” or “Britain First” ALWAYS suggests to me a version of nationalism too selfish, too squalid and too dull to inspire anything resembling love or devotion.  I cannot begin to imagine wanting to love a country that did not want to contribute to something bigger than itself, that did not want to learn and share from others, and did not want to give something to others.

I’ve never understood how such isolationist patriots retain sufficient self respect to ever get out of bed in the morning.  But they do, and our grandchildren will suffer for it.


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