Imagine you are about to cross a bridge and 99 out of 100 engineers warn you if you do, it will collapse. And one, who works for the bridge owner, tells you no worries, go ahead. What would you do?
Donald Trump —the world’s only leader who denies the climate science— has decided to cross that bridge and take us all with him. Confronted with the easiest decision of his chaotic presidency, Trump finally opted to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, against the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans, the international community and common sense.
This 70-year-old man is making a decision that gravely endangers the future of our children and grandchildren. The Paris Agreement, backed by close to 200 nations, is the only viable tool at humanity’s disposal to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis.
The US business community overwhelmingly supports staying in the agreement —from Microsoft, to Apple, to Walmart, even Exxon, BP and Shell— as well as 70 percent of Americans. Even Trump’s own Pentagon considers the climate crisis a clear and present danger to national security.
His decision also severely endangers the US world economic leadership. China, the planet’s largest climate polluter, has embarked on a three-year program to invest $360 billion in clean energy and the creation of more than 13 million jobs in this crucial sector of the world economy by 2020. Trump, on the other hand, insists on pushing us back to the 19th Century.
The diplomatic damage this outrageous decision would also be incalculable. When the Bush-Cheney administration decided to withdraw from the Kyoto Accord, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell called the intense diplomatic backlash the decision generated “a sobering experience.” And now, after Trump refused to ratify the Paris Accord at the disastrous G7 meeting in Italy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Europe could no longer trust the US, adding that, “We Europeans really have to take our destiny into our own hands.”
The cost of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement would also be profound as the international community agrees we don’t have any more time to waste in the climate fight. And for us Latinos and Latin Americans in general, the weakening of the agreement would have especially disastrous consequences. Years ago, the UN warned that communities such as ours, both here in the US and in developing nations, are most vulnerable to the climate crisis. In Latin America alone, the damage currently caused by extreme weather equals 4 percent of the region’s GDP.
Trump, however, is swimming against the overwhelming push forward of a clean energy economy worldwide. For the second year in a row, more clean energy was installed around the planet than dirty fossil fuel energy. And here in the US, according to the Department of Energy, the solar industry employs more workers in energy generation than the oil, coal and gas industries combined. Last year, 60 percent of the new energy installed in the US came from solar or wind, some 24,000 megawatts.
For every terrible decision Trump makes, grassroots activists, frontline communities, local governments, and concerned people across the country are fighting to make sure clean energy continues to grow by leaps and bounds. No one is going to wait around for our climate denier-in-chief to play catch up, and it certainly will not be derailed by the ignorance of one man.
After making such a historic mistake, Trumps reminds me of Al Gore’s famous sentence: “Political will is a renewable resource.”
By Javier Sierra
Javier Sierra is a Sierra Club columnist. Follow him on Twitter @javier_SC.