So the USA pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement

Condemnations from all around. Now what?

chat Posted Jun 05, 2017 by Rezwan | Category : Formalizing
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The Tablecloth Challenge gone wrong.

What Happened

By now you’ve probably heard that the USA has pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, based on a tiny, tiny comprehension of the situation. 

Some Conservatives are happy, like this coalition of ten Attorney Generals. Their top priority seems to be preserving coal jobs for West Virginia. And making sure we burn every last drop of fossil fuel.

A warning to these folks: If the Parable about the Virgins is right, the burners will miss out on the Kingdom of Heaven. They will be cast out where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. That’s how it goes.

So it is written.

Note that not all Conservatives fall into that category. There are a number of Clean Energy Conservatives who were for staying with the agreement.  ClearPath - Founder Jay Faison made this statement:

“America’s withdrawal from the Paris accord is a personal blow to me. I have said many times that we don’t need to agree on the level of climate risk to agree on clean energy solutions. However, joining Nicaragua and Syria as the only countries not on board assigns zero risk to carbon emissions. The world will move on without us, probably with China in the lead. Regardless, ClearPath will remain committed to advancing clean energy innovation at the legislative and executive branches of government.”

What Now?

The upside of the withdrawal is that it has galvanized state and local governments, businesses and other institutions to move forward on their own. But will this momentum be more about resisting trump than solving the climate crisis?

Are we galvanizing, or just polarizing some more?

Ted Nordhaus and Alex Trembath write that the decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement is a reflection of the ever increasing polarization of climate change.

Trump’s decision is in part a result of the well-documented effort by ideologues and economic interests on the Right to polarize the climate debate. In recent years, however, climate advocates themselves have worsened the divide.

It is easier to polarize and demonize than it is to collaborate and problem-solve.

“Easier to fight for your principles than to live by your principles.”

Which brings us to this post by Robert Reich. I am a big fan of his movie, “Inequality for All”, but not a fan of this quote:

A short message to the rest of the world:

We apologize. We understand our responsibilities as human beings who share this planet with you. This is temporary. Donald Trump doesn’t reflect the views of most Americans. Most of us didn’t even vote for him. We are doing everything we possibly can to remove him from office as soon as legally possible. And when we do, America will once again be a responsible nation.

Once again?

Whatever you have against Trump, don’t use him to avoid personal responsibility.

“Magical President” Fallacy

If Trump is removed from office, will America “once again” be responsible?

Was America responsible before?

Could any president, the best, most magical president, get Americans to take on the level of responsibility necessary to solve this problem?

No. Not if the “responsible” Americans are hoping that all they need to do is cast the right ballot, while the “irresponsible” ones voted for this president. At least the second group was more up front about not wanting to be responsible. They voted to dodge the climate problem.

To become a responsible nation, we need to face our personal responsibility head on. We need to face this polarization head on. And we need to roll up our sleeves and systematically work through the solutions.

About polarization, as Roger Pielke puts it:

The Trump presidency reveals the utter failure of US climate policy — it crashed and burned on the first presidential transition…

Climate advocates have an opportunity to rethink what a “big tent” approach to climate policy might look like. But will they? ...

The challenge is to come up with energy and climate policies that survive regardless of who is elected.

Personal Responsibility

The President is one guy. There are 320 million other people in this country and we all have a major role to play in solving the sustainability problem. We can’t pin this on the president. It’s our problem. We need to own it.

No more excuses or token actions. If you want to fix this problem, let’s do it. You and me, and your friends who care. We can do it. With or without a magical president. We can turn the Race to Zero Carbon into a national pastime, AND WIN IT ALREADY!

Get started here.

Make sure to take the Player’s Pledge.

Advanced player? Take the Coaches Pledge.

Too much too fast? What can I say? The clock is ticking.

There are no plays without a player, and you are the player. We can’t get to zero carbon without you. It certainly won’t be as much fun.

To zero carbon and beyond,


The Clock is Ticking
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