In the wake of Trump’s announcement on Thursday that the U.S. will leave the Paris Climate Accord, I’ve heard from more than a few people what I consider to be the very hottest of takes: Trump made the right decision for the wrong reasons. Essentially, the people with whom I’ve been speaking have decided that even though Trump is full of enough shit to maintain one of those small, organic farms I’m sure he hates, the decision to leave the Paris Agreement was right. To which I would like to offer my own hot take: Stop being an idiot.
I’m not pretending that there aren’t issues with the Paris Agreement, I’m only arguing that leaving the Agreement in no way accomplishes any of the possible outcomes a reasonable person would want to reach. Specifically the complaint that Paris doesn’t go far enough to address climate change. We could have, theoretically, taken a principled stand on Paris, and stated that until we had an international agreement that would effectively combat climate change, we wouldn’t sign a half-assed attempt. You know, like Nicaragua did. But that’s not what Trump stated when he pulled out. (editor’s note: Phrasing! Gross.) He said that the United States, and its largest economy in the world, would leave the Paris agreement because he doesn’t want to handcuff our businesses and work-force. So in an attempt to find a plan that would demand greater contributions to climate change reductions in a more forceful way, people are siding with the dude who’s shouting, “Fuck the planet! It’ll probably be ok, and if not, oh well”?
Which is, to be perfectly clear, exactly what Trump’s saying. He inherently does not believe that human activity is fundamentally changing the planet, nor that those effects are devastating. Which brings me to my big second point: You can’t actually reach the right decision using the wrong reasons. As Oliver states in the video, Trump’s reasons for leaving the Paris Agreement are flagrantly deceptive. You cannot reach the right decision if your argument is based on faulty information and lies. Imagine if someone said, “I don’t trust Jared Kushner because he lied on his FS86 form to gain national security clearance, and because he used his connection to Russian diplomats to try to set-up back channels for his own personal gain.” That’s all pretty valid, right? Now imagine if someone said, “I don’t trust Jared Kushner because he’s Jewish.” That person is wrong, and here’s the weird part, somehow even more wrong than that person who said they do trust Kushner. (Yes, that’s right. Incompetent, blubbering windbag of a person Donald Trump is somehow less wrong about something than someone. It’s nearly incomprehensible.)
So what exactly have we accomplished by leaving the Paris Climate Agreement? We certainly won’t see tougher climate change fighting policies within the next four years, we’ve lost our standing as a leader in world events because everyone fucking hates us, and we seem like idiots because the person we chose to represent us got on a world stage and rambled out nonsense that everyone else knows is bullshit. Does any of that sound like accidentally falling into the right decision? If, and that’s a big if, there’s a silver-lining to all of this, it’s that individual cities, states, and citizens of the U.S. will dedicate even more time and effort to working against climate change. We could use changing economic trends to meet the goals the U.S. had set for ourselves, and in that way fulfill the Paris Agreement even if Trump made us look like assholes about it. We could, out of sheer spite, find concrete ways to significantly reduce the damage we’ve been doing to the planet for the past hundred years. And, no, Trump doesn’t deserve credit for that either.