We Are Living A Nightmare

We really are. Not only is the Trump Administration under investigation by the FBI and Congress for likely working with the Russians to influence the presidential election in favor of the GOP, not only has Donald Trump successfully undermined the Affordable Care Act by assuring people that it is collapsing and “unsustainable” (rather than working to improve it), not only is he preparing to build a wall across our southern border to keep the “bad hombres” out, and not only has he terrorized Muslims by threatening a “travel ban” from some of their countries, he has now pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Accord, a worldwide agreement to stem the harmful effects of man-influenced climate change.

I am not so much concerned that our pulling out of this Accord will plunge the world immediately  into a death spiral with respect to global warming. The New York Times lead editorial today expresses some confidence that “…the United States, whatever Mr. Trump does, will continue to do its part in controlling greenhouse gas emissions. Market forces all seem to be headed in the right direction. The business community is angry. A Gallup poll found that nearly two-thirds of Americans are worried about climate change, and the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found that almost 70 percent of Americans wanted to stay in the agreement, including half of Trump voters.”

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, agrees that “Despite this announcement, many U.S. businesses, states, cities, regions, nongovernmental organizations and faith bodies like the Episcopal Church can continue to take bold action to address the climate crisis…Faith bodies like the Episcopal Church occupy a unique space in the worldwide climate movement…We are an international body representing 17 countries in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and the Pacific…Furthermore the Episcopal Church is a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the third largest Christian tradition, and we remain committed to ensuring that Anglicans everywhere are empowered to undertake bold action in climate change mitigation and adaptation.” (Episcopal News Service, June 1)

No, this decision will not halt the progress of environmental stewardship, even though it may set it back and cost us valuable time. My real concern is that this decision, added to the many unfortunates ones made already by this Administration, further erodes confidence in the United States around the world. Pulling out of NAFTA and the T.P.P., reversing commitment toward universal health care, threatening to weaken NATO (which is, at least, not now considered “obsolete”), and rattling an economic saber at Canada are now joined with reneging on what was in any case a purely voluntary international commitment to work together across national boundaries to combat a global environmental crisis.

Is it any wonder that our Allies and even our enemies are wondering whether the United States has any core values any more and whether we can be trusted to keep our word on various international treaties, trade agreements, and the like? German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent comment that Europe must now be prepared to go it alone is only the latest expression of the rapidly-eroding confidence in the United State’s ability to lead…or even to be counted  upon in a crisis. The next time we need Europe’s help in sending their young women and men to die in support of one of our foreign interventions, we may look in vain for such assistance. And who could blame them?

With respect to the climate crisis, I can only hope that a coalition of U.S. businesses, states, cities, NGOs, and faith bodies such as mentioned above will have a sufficient megaphone to assure the world that the people of the United States are with them — on this issue as on so many others — no matter what this Pitiful Little Man in the White House may do next.


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