Saturday, June 3, 2017

The United States just pulled out of the Paris climate change agreement. So what?

Trump's decision is cynical and stupid, but this 
environmentalist just can't get worked up about it. 

Last night it rained at the ranch, furiously, but only for an hour. It was hardly enough to officially end the dry season but comforting to hear that the clouds haven't forgotten their function is not just to decorate the sky. 

The rain came after a couple of days of worldwide condemnation of Donald Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate change accord. 

It's cynical political pandering for Trump to pretend his decision will bring back dying sectors of the U.S. economy, most notably coal. The foundries of South Chicago and Pittsburgh are dead and gone and it's contemptible and cruel to lead workers in those industries to hope otherwise. 

It's also embarrassing for Americans to witness their country join hands with Syria and Nicaragua as the only three nations in the world to reject the agreement. Cooped up in a phone booth with the likes of Bashar al-Assad and Daniel Ortega—on any issue—is not where the president of the U.S. ought to be, even if by now most people agree that Trump waddles to a different drummer. 

More important, his attempt to put the environmental movement in reverse, including the rapid growth of green industries and energy conservation, is not going to get much traction. 

New York is not going to junk its fleet of clean and fuel-efficient hybrid taxicabs in favor of belching, eight-cylinder Crown Victorias. Nor is the electric industry's march toward natural gas, and wind, solar and other renewables, going to recede to make way for King Coal's return. 

But Apocalypse sooner? Not by a long shot. 

Yet the constant alarm over climate change has taken a toll on my brain—and patience too.


                                                                                    (National Geographic photo)
A couple of years ago, Stew and I saw writer and humorist Fran Lebowitz on TV being asked for her reaction to some climate-related catastrophe predicted to occur some fifty years in the future. She looked at her wristwatch and said, "Meh. Don't worry about it!" 

I tend to agree. 

When we built our house in Mexico eight years ago, Stew and I went to considerable lengths and extra expense to build a green house. 

We carefully positioned it on a small hill to capture the sun's warmth during the winter; employed adobe bricks made a couple of miles from here, rocks from the site to build the foundations and clay roof tiles rescued from an abandoned building. We insulated the concrete roof with a layer of volcanic rock, and included clerestory windows and skylights to provide cross-ventilation during the summer. We put in a rain collection system and a large cistern that provides much of our water. We use solar energy for our electricity and hot water, in addition to water-conserving plumbing fixtures and drip irrigation in our garden. 

All this effort has worked splendidly well. The only external energy input is propane for cooking gas and space heaters during the winter. 

Two world-famous Donalds. 
By now, though, I'm tired of the constant din of climate changers predicting an imminent end to the world. I feel as if we've done all we can. We already gave at the office. We don't want to spend the rest of our lives biting our fingernails. And so on.

As for Trump, if he wanted to confirm his position as a world-class fool, he's succeeded admirably. Too bad he had to tarnish American leadership and reputation in the world along the way. 

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