On Dec. 12, 2015, 196 countries committed to adopting the Paris Agreement, an agreement between nations to dedicate efforts towards reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.
The goal of the agreement, ultimately, was to slow the rate of global warming — more specifically, to prevent the earth from reaching 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. It is already 1 degree Celsius above those levels. Because of the potentially devastating implications for island nations due to rising sea levels accompanying global warming, Ari Shapiro from NPR reported that representatives from some of those areas even took on the slogan “1.5 to stay alive” — advocating for limiting the rise to 1.5 degrees rather than 2. Just over a year ago, on Earth Day 2016, the United States and dozens of other nations signed the Accords.
Yesterday, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the agreement.
We’ve written this kind of editorial before. We bemoaned Trump’s detrimental lack of regard for the environment all the way back when he proposed to cut nearly a third of the EPA’s budget. We shouted into the void about choking air pollution, violent weather and the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef.
There’s no point in rehashing all of that again. Don’t get us wrong — those problems are looming as heavily as they ever were — but Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement presents a new, ugly problem. When he proposed cuts to the EPA, he made America look idiotic to a lot of Americans. But yesterday, when he withdrew from a global pact intended to further the greater good of the human race, he made America look idiotic to the entire developed world.
Our country, with the flick of one small wrist, just bowed out of the only international climate change agreement ever established. You know who didn’t back out? China. Russia. North and South Korea. By withdrawing from this collective, Donald Trump has not only disregarded the potentially devastating consequences of climate change, but he has also sacrificed yet another piece of leadership that afforded America the status of global superpower.
How many pieces do we have left?