My heart goes out to Barron Trump today. Little does the poor guy know that at the age of eleven, his old man sold out his future for the narrow interests of pandering to the working-class voters of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio, energising his base in Kentucky and West Virginia proactively with the 2018 mid-terms and 2020 re-election bid in mind.
If Barron's dad knew as much about business as he claims, he'd at a basic level know that a strong primary industry and manufacturing sector is a hallmark of a second-rate economy. He'd know that only 20,000 coal-mining jobs exist among the 150 million Americans in the labour force. Alarm bells would ring when your Secretary of State, the former CEO of the 2nd-largest historical carbon dioxide emitting company, furiously campaigns in the days leading up to your decision to stay in the Paris Agreement. The accord as it stands already is so short of ambition as reflected by current commitments that it would still lead to catastrophic climate change, far exceeding the aim of a 2-degree Celsius increase of global average temperature as measured against the start of industrialisation circa 1850, scientifically giving us a two-thirds chance of avoiding dangerous, human-caused climate change.
But Donald doesn't deserve all the blame. David and Charles Koch are the real culprits driving the libertarian brand of US politics, overseers of a vast political machine seeking to whittle away government oversight and taxation to the benefit of an oil and gas dynasty presided over by two men living past the average life expectancy of their country of birth.
The Koch's have a shill in Scott Pruitt, the EPA chief and former Oklahoma attorney general, a state that's benefited greatly from the shale boom of the past decade, buttressed by all the litigation Pruitt could help it with. Both Pruitt and the President's chief strategist Steven K. Bannon - pandering to the white, working-class voters that elected them on a key campaign promise - prevailed over the exhortations of a former Goldman Sachs president-turned-economics adviser, an ex-ExxonMobil chief and the president's own First Daughter, mother of Donald's grandchildren Arabella, Theodore and Joseph, along with his grandchildren to Donald Jr., Kai, Chloe, Donald III, Tristan and Spencer.
The US Senate never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, so it's short accession to the Paris Agreement need not surprise us greatly as a departure from history, though it certainly may feel so.
It's incumbent upon all of us to take individual responsibility. We all allow our conscience reprieve when our fuel tank gauge nears empty and we pull in to the local branch of Shell, BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron or Total. Many of us allow inertia to prevail in continuing to run our home electricity and gas heating off the fossilised sediment of prehistoric lifeforms when a renewable energy provider is but a phone call away (From them, I mean! I know you receive them unsolicited all the time.) An atmospheric interplay of the sun's rays and one carbon atom symbiotically CO-existing with 2 carbon atoms will set our children and children's children on a pathway to a world that paints the world in conflagration.
In the 4 years requisite for the US to legally exit the Paris Agreement, a presidential election will occur exactly the following day, after which a new administration could ratify once again, at the expense of 4 years of business-as-usual emissions, incurring greater expense to decarbonise the US economy by mid-century.
It won't matter. America's abdicated global leadership on Thursday 1 June 2017, ironically to China, the very power Trump intended to curb. I suggest a divestment of American goods and services with exception of the ICT vanguard including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook. Not as a rebuke to ordinary Americans who want a healthy planet and socially inclusive economy that distributes fairly the wealth of ultra-high net worth individuals such as the Kochs and their cronies. These wealthy elites wrote the US tax code because plutocracy charades as democracy in America, the Republican Party an asset of Koch Industries, the second-largest private company from sea to shining sea. This is about money, and you have the potential to wield your unit of fiat currency, whether US dollar, pound sterling, euro, yen or yuan, even in infinitesimal quantities against the scale of the $100 million mobilised by the Koch's in the 2016 campaign.
Wield your individual ability to act and do your 7.5-billionth worth of responsibility. Take the UN Climate Neutral Now pledge. Calculate your climate footprint, reduce what you can and buy carbon credits to offset whatever emissions you cannot.
- Reduce kilometres travelled per week
- Downsize your car to a smaller vehicle with smaller engine displacement, preferably diesel or electric hybrid
- Use public transport, preferably trams and trains rather than buses
- Recycle almost all of your waste
- Switch your heating source to electricity generated by renewable energy
- Make your preferred diet vegetarian or vegan
- Mostly shop for local and organic food
- Calculate and offset your carbon emissions for international air travel
Educate yourself about the deep decarbonisation pathways toward a decarbonised economy in our respective countries by 2050, built on 3 pillars:
- Energy efficiency - effective building insulation, fluorescent or LED lights, efficient appliances
- Low carbon electricity - solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, nuclear, carbon capture and sequestration
- Fuel switching - electric cars recharged with renewable generated electricity.
I'm saddened, because I really enjoy being in America, New York City particularly being an enormous inspiration, but I see no morality in being complicit in their economy's depredations any longer, even as a visitor. As it stands though, I can see I, like many others, fell for Columbia's wiles and seduction in the form of a lifestyle that was neither sustainable for its citizens and global citizenry, nor reflective of my morality. Stoking wars and regime changes in violation of the UN Charter's respect for other members states' sovereignty, an ODA budget of 0.18% of GNI in contrast to a pledged 0.7% from the world's largest economy, a disregard for the virtues of both the Convention on Biological Diversity, as well as the UNFCCC, of which the Paris Agreement is an extension of.
The world must look anywhere but the United States now, save for an alliance between progressive and dynamic American cities, states and businesses, in an effort formally being led by former NYC mayor and UN climate envoy Michael Bloomberg, who ironically considered a run in the 2016 election. The world will pivot to the EU and China for leadership, as evidenced by the One Belt, One Road initiative officially presented by Xi Jinping last month. Yet as individuals we must search our own respective actions, being ever-mindful to prioritise the wealth of biodiversity and gains made on ending extreme poverty to ensure the health of our planet and our children's prosperous future.