Source: The Guardian
Donald Trump’s announcement that the US will withdraw from the Paris agreement was always going to be an exercise in idiocy. But he unwittingly brought it to new heights Thursday, when he chose exactly the wrong city to be the face of his disastrous decision.
“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh,” he said, “not Paris.”
Cities don’t speak but the numbers do, and the numbers say that Trump is full of it.
More than 75% of Pittsburgh voters backed Hillary Clinton. Having revitalized itself from a coal and steel-based economy, its renewable energy industry is now a major employer, providing an estimated 13,000 jobs. The editorial board of its flagship paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, has laid out in no uncertain terms how leaving the global agreement would hurt the US. And the city’s Mayor Bill Peduto, long an outspoken supporter of the global agreement, was actually in Paris in 2015 when the accord was drafted.
Pittsburgh is — if anything — a posterchild moving in the opposite direction on climate and Peduto has used every platform available to express his outrage over Trump’s line.
Expanding the lens beyond Pittsburgh doesn’t do Trump any favors either.
Trump didn’t even win Pittsburgh’s surrounding Allegheny county, which swung by more than 10 points for Clinton. And though he did win the state overall, two-thirds of the state supports staying in the Paris agreement and state’s governor Tom Wolf has no illusions about what Trump’s move will do for the local economy. “This decision hurts our economy and Pennsylvania residents,” he told the Post Gazette.
Mostly though, it will hurt people overseas. Climate change was already expected to cause an estimated deaths of 250,000 deaths per year in coming decades, even before Trump’s decision pull out of Paris, according to estimates from the World Health Organization. Among the hardest hit will be the old and the sick and the weak living in the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa and southeast Asia.
Nevermind that seven in ten Americans support the Paris agreement, which countries all over the world have worked for decades to realize. And nevermind that the agreement, which seeks to limit warming to below 2 degrees celsius, is legally non-binding meaning Trump could simply ignore it: the standards the US would be held to under it are literally the standards that it sets for itself.
None of that mattered to Trump. he wanted to make a spectacle out of this moment. And standing, perversely, amidst the beautiful idyllic greenery of the White House rose garden, he proceeded to make the fate of the world just that: a fundamentally flawed talking point.
Instead of observing the overwhelming reality of what scientific evidence tells us about the dangers posed by global warming, Trump’s decided to cater to the narrow, ideological interests of people like Myron Ebell and Scott Pruitt. As former secretary of state John Kerry put it in an interview with NPR Thursday: “Really, it’s one of the most disastrous, shallow, untruthful decisions a president of the United States has made in my lifetime.”
Earlier this week we saw climate deniers in his cabinet and White House appeared to have prevailed upon the president to the point where he can’t won’t even confirm that climate change is not a hoax. This is not politics as usual. We’re approaching flat earth territory.
And the Pittsburgh moment matters because it reveals a larger truth about how Trump is approaching his job in the White House and the fate of the world. It’s not just that he has no mastery of the material over which he’s presiding so powerfully — research might have fixed that error. He chose the line carelessly, presumably for its alliteration, and with an utter disregard for truth and the dire consequences his distortions will have on real people, including the very ones who elected him.
Trump’s never cared much for integrity, but the dangers of his shallowness have never glowed more bright.