UPDATE: Paris and climate: Are we all in this together or not? | Arkansas Blog

Friday, June 2, 2017

UPDATE: Paris and climate: Are we all in this together or not?

Posted By on Fri, Jun 2, 2017 at 8:04 AM

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Donald Trump's rejection of the Paris climate accord inspires many thoughts, first on whether we are part of a global community or just engaged in an every-nation-for-itself tribal battle?

Some odds and ends from the deluge:

* TRIBALISM: Polls show an overwhelming majority of Americans think our commitment to reducing manmade contributions to a warmer globe is a good thing. Trump believes it is good for him with his rock-hard base to do otherwise. And speaking of tribalism (my side right or wrong), here's a thoughtful essay on the topic.

Also: Many have illustrated the theme with the head-slapping commentary from Trump advisers H.R. McMasters and Gary 'Cohn following Trump's world tour:

“The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a cleareyed outlook that the world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage.”
There is no shared community of interest for them. It's all about gaining advantage. Observed David Brooks:

Powerful, selfish people have always adopted this dirty-minded realism to justify their own selfishness. The problem is that this philosophy is based on an error about human beings and it leads to self-destructive behavior in all cases.

.... People are wired to cooperate. .... People have a moral sense. They have a set of universal intuitions that help establish harmony between peoples. From their first moments, children are wired to feel each other’s pain. 
Not all people. One in particular.

And then what about the local reaction?

* HIP HIP HOORAY: One lusty cheer came from Sen. John Boozman. He says the decision will not "take away a seat at the table" at future discussions. What discussions? French leader Emmanuel Macron and many others have said there are no negotiations to be held. He slammed Trump in a historic speech delivered in English. (More encouragement to the Trump base, I acknowledge.)

* HIP, HIP: Sen. Tom Cotton, who knows everything about everything, has been restrained and not yet issued a formal statement. But he's recommended on Twitter Trump-supportive commentary from conservative sources and Trump talking points. See his Twitter account for such comments as "sensible take" and "worth the read." Better, I guess, than his normal declaration of moral certitude.

* SILENCE: So far no official statements from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, the Queen of Coal and opponent of anything that reins in the pumping of soot into the air.  Given her frequent appearances on cable TV as a Trump pompon squad leader, I'd hope we'll hear supportive words soon.

* A SORT OF SILENCE: Nothing official yet from Gov. Asa Hutchinson either. But unless he's a powerfully independent type, unafraid of how any divergent opinion might affect his stature at the office, Tweets from his press spokesman J.R. Davis perhaps give a clue. A sample of his tweetstorming for Trump: "Fact is overregulation kills AR agriculture more than anything. That, literally, is the #ParisAccord." And also to Rep. Greg Leding's suggestion the accord was good for and supported by businesses: "For billionaires, sure. You really believe it's good for AR farmers? AR business? Go ahead & make it political, but it's bad for AR."

* IN DEFENSE OF THE PLANET: Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan and Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola are among 68 U.S. Mayors who've pledged to deliver on the Paris accord aims in their own cities.

So I guess we need to ask Bart Hester, Bob Ballinger and them if we need a special session to pass legislation that prevents cities from adopting clean air initiatives. Perhaps the Religious Freedom bill could be used because, after all, didn't a U.S. congressman say that if we DO have a climateproblem, God will sort it out. Taking government action against divine design could be prohibited by state law.

You just wish when Trump does these things he'd at least get some of the facts right. Better to just make the dominionist argument and be done with it, rather than cooking up fake facts.

UPDATE: John Lyon at the Arkansas News Bureau has some comments from the governor and Cotton that are, unsurprisingly, warm toward stiffing the world. From Hutchinson, it was spokesman Davis, saying, "The Paris accord put the United States in a difficult position, and you had other countries that basically got off scot-free, and that’s an issue.”

He quoted an e-mail from Cotton: “I’m more worried about what people pay for electricity in Paris, Arkansas, than I am the Paris climate accord, which would make them pay a lot more. The United States will continue to lead the world in environmental protection and economic might without this lopsided deal.”

Congressman Steve Womack and Rick Crawford were similarly laudatory.

U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock? Missing in action. Again.

Is there a single Republican politician with backbone and principle? One? Even Trump's secretary of state, the big oil man, was OK with Paris.

UPDATE II: Friday afternoon, I got a full prepared statement from the governor:

"The president's decision to end America's involvement with the Paris Accord was the right choice for our country's economy and the American worker. As Governor, I have focused on eliminating regulations that are overly burdensome and unnecessary. The Paris Accord is voluntary, which means it is also ineffective, unenforceable and, like similar deals, often wrought with bad actors.

"What's more, President George W. Bush made the same decision in 2001 when he pulled America out of the Kyoto Protocol for similar reasons. I did not view President Bush's decision then nor do I view President Trump's decision now as a slight to the issues facing our climate. Both were simply the rejection of a terribly unfair and ineffective deal that put the United States at a great economic disadvantage with our international counterparts.

"For me, as Governor, economic development has been and continues to be an important priority, but so is our environment. Arkansas is known to the rest of the country as 'The Natural State.' It's a moniker we're proud of and a reputation we take seriously. While we continue to add jobs and enjoy the lowest unemployment rate in our state's history, my administration has also focused on balanced and effective regulatory systems to protect our environment while driving economic growth. In doing so, Arkansas' recent State of the Air report shows our state's environment is healthy and the air quality is excellent-and continues to improve. In addition, our industries and electrical utilities have invested in transformational technology to decrease overall energy consumption, increase the use of natural gas, and deploy low-cost alternative fuels.

"As Arkansans, we know what it means to be good stewards of the environment. We also know how destructive overregulation can be to economic growth. There's a responsible balance, of which the Paris Accord failed to achieve."


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