There are so many things President Donald Trump does not understand, but what I’d call the single most important concept absent from both his strategic and moral thinking is perfectly expressed in one typically malicious and dishonest tweet thumbed out last week.
The “fatal flaw” of the Paris Agreement on the global environment, Trump tweeted, is “that it raises the price of energy for responsible countries while whitewashing some of the worst polluters in the world.”
Trump probably sees no irony in his chosen words “responsible countries.”
First, the industrialized mega-states, of which the U.S. and China are the two biggest, are “responsible” for an overwhelming share of the world’s climate-changing air pollution. China’s the world’s worst today, but when it comes to the cumulative load of pollutants put into Earth’s atmosphere over the years, no one can match America.
Second, only one of those states, China, is behaving “responsibly” in trying to reduce its use of fossil fuels, especially coal. The other, Trump’s America, has irresponsibly abandoned its obligations under the Paris Agreement, and stupidly forfeited to the Chinese, leadership in what will be among the biggest industries of the 21st century: alternative energy sources to fossil fuels.
But the real “fatal flaw,” the one in Trump’s brain, is exposed as he whines that much of the cost of environmental reform will be borne by “the “responsible countries, while whitewashing some of the worst polluters in the world.
“I want clean air and clean water and have been making great strides in improving America’s environment,” he lies and then goes on to his conclusion: “American taxpayers – and American workers – shouldn’t pay to clean up others countries’ pollution.”
That’s the crux, right there, of what Donald J. Trump cannot comprehend: “other countries’ pollution” becomes our air, because – pay attention Mr. President – we all live on one planet.
We share the air. We share the water. We share the climate.
Walls, tariffs and other forms of international bullying and bluster won’t help. Not when the seas rise and the fields wither. Then, the consequences will belong to everyone, even if so much of the blame can be focused on one lame-brained egomaniac. May his body follow his soul to his own planet, far, far away from ours.