By Mary Summerbell
The Paris Climate Accord – only two countries on earth didn’t sign on with it – Syria, in the grip of civil war, and Nicaragua, wanting stricter restrictions. Almost two hundred countries publicly and officially coming to agreement on any issue is unprecedented – and certainly amazing. I think this expression of near-unanimous collective effort, in respectful support of our planet is, without doubt, a good idea – plain and simple. Harmful to none, beneficial to all.
Why president Trump chose to take the United States out of this pact is, for me, unreasonable and unworthy of speculation. I choose, instead, to focus my attention and energy on continuing support of the Paris Accord and on looking for other group efforts to support for creative solutions to ecological challenges.
Not long to wait or far to look. The same day I heard Trump’s disappointing announcement, I was elated and inspired by MSNBC newscaster Ari Melber’s interview of California governor Jerry Brown. What a contrast in attitudes! While Trump whined that the Paris Accord is “very unfair to us,” the United States, saying he was “elected to be president of Pittsburg, not Paris,” Governor Brown spoke of interstate collaborations and international alliances.
Observing these two men, we can see a very clear example of the difference between divisive thinking and wholistic thinking.
Trump, with his mind frame of either Pittsburg or Paris, either the United States or other countries, obviously sees places – and people – as parts of the world in opposition to each other. As such, individuals, groups, institutions, states and nations are all splintered factors pitted against each other in competition and conflict, in every aspect and on every level of society. This separatism, this us/them mentality promotes perpetual contradiction, criticism and antagonism – provokes hostility, hatred and violence based on differences between factors. It creates constant, escalating chaos of racism, sexism, “otherism’ – every little difference another barrier, another degree of separation.
Meanwhile, Governor Brown and California citizens are leaders – innovators – setting the forward pace in positive environmental change. They are deeply, enthusiastically involved in and committed to climate activism. With their imaginative and assertive climate action policy, they are taking the initiative, making the necessary investments in time, money and effort to clean up their state, our nation and the planet. And, by example, encouraging others to join in.
Focusing on wise climate policies and investing in new energy technologies brought California remarkable economic benefits, with a growth rate 40% higher than the national average and 2.3 million more jobs since the last recession.
California formed an alliance with Colorado, Utah and Nevada to coordinate building refueling stations for electric cars. Governor Brown is also a founder of Under Two Coalition, a collaboration of 175 partners – states and countries – similar to the Paris agreement. It represents a billion people and 30% of the the world economic output.
Eager to increase international cooperation, Brown is soon to visit China. He wants to see how they plan to make zero emission cars and reach their goal of 50% renewable electricity by 2030. He seeks to harmonize our standards with theirs and reevaluate trade agreements with consideration for ecological as well as economic benefits for all.
Governor Brown insists that President Trump does not represent the majority of people in America. “This is not a game,” he says. He sees global warming as “an existential threat to the long-term survival of humanity.” Serious, but not discouraging. He believes that people everywhere can achieve mutual benefits by working together toward mutual goals. He and his cohorts are “going to do everything we can to win the minds and hearts of the people of California, of America, of the world…to keep humanity on a sustainable and harmonious path with Nature.”
I find this optimistic approach uplifting, motivating, energizing. We can face the fact that Trump has taken the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. But we need not be defeated by it. I agree with Governor Brown that we let this be a catalyst to stimulate us to seek other Earth-healing alternatives. If we rise to the challenge, just think, united, how many creative ways we can find to participate in healthy climate change.