Overtaken in isolation

Paris Agreement withdrawal keeps with retrograde climate of Trump

Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States from the Paris Agreement has drawn wide criticism from the diverse interests who recognize the perils of climate change. The CN&R’s opposition to the president on this, as on most all his actions, goes without saying. POTUS has put us on par with Nicaragua and Syria, the only two nations not signing the pact, and retrograde to China, Russia and North Korea, nations many Americans regard from the heights of moral superiority.

Our country invented the World Wide Web, and the president’s fortune is inextricably global, yet U.S. policy has devolved to cutting cords that connect us to the international community.

“America First”—one of Trump’s slogans, along with “Make America Great Again” and “Keep America Great!”—traces its roots to an isolationist party circa 1940. As World War II raged elsewhere, a faction here wanted the U.S. to remain in a bubble and leave Europe, Africa and Asia to decide their own fates. That sentiment lost sway Dec. 7, 1941, when bombs fell on Pearl Harbor.

The president may think it’s clever to say he represents Pittsburgh, not Paris; or, by extension, Toledo, not Tokyo. That’s not how the world works. Citizens of earth live on one round ball, and what happens on one side has a way of rolling over to the rest.

Nowhere is that more true than with environmental issues. Greenhouse gases, nuclear emissions, waterborne toxins—none of these compounds recognize geopolitical boundaries. Lines on a map are not physical barriers. Just like kamikaze bombers striking Hawaii, we couldn’t stop Fukushima radiation from hitting North American shores by force of will or denial.

We can close our eyes and ears to the world, but we can’t shut ourselves off from the world, now more than ever.

The United States of America shunned the Paris accord; Americans don’t have to. We still can act responsibly: individually, in places of business, as a city, as a county, as a state. Corporations and California already have begun bucking Trump.

When it comes to nature, everything is interconnected, and every bit we do can make a difference. POTUS surrendered our mantle of world leadership—only we can surrender our world.