Odd Man Out: Trump Holds That America Will Not Join Paris Climate Accord


Stela Baltic, Staff

“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord” (Statement by President Trump on the Paris Climate Accord). So states president Donald Trump, met with scattered applause atop his Rose Garden podium. The irony of making such a statement amongst the bright array of flowers and trees in his presence will no doubt evade him and much of his audience. In between Trump’s stilted words and the crowd’s leisurely claps, is silence. Silence which will soon be filled with the collective outrage and, on the other hand, approval, of the nation. In their recent findings on Americans’ views on climate change, Pew Research Center reports that around half, approximately 48%, of US adults believe climate change is due to human activity and thereby our problem to solve, leaving the other half up to speculate wildly with “alternate facts” (Funk).
This is not the first time Trump has fueled an already divisive issue. The New York Times reports Trump’s following statements, shortly after the Texas church shooting which claimed over fifty lives: “But this isn’t a guns situation,’ Mr. Trump added. ‘I mean, we could go into it, but it’s a little bit soon to go into it. But fortunately, somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction, otherwise it would have been — as bad it was — it would have been much worse. But this is a mental health problem at the highest level’” (Baker). Almost every highly publicized mass shooting has found the parties split on two different sides: mental health is the concern, or lack of gun regulation is the concern. Another controversial issue in which Trump has solidified a split in policies and values has been illegal immigration. Over 90% of Democrats disagree with Trump’s proposal of a stronger wall built between the U.S. and Mexico, while only 21% of Republicans disagree with such a plan (Fetterolf). The peculiar element underlying these issues is that we are not nearly as split as we believe ourselves to be. Following the Las Vegas shooting, Politifact reports that approximately 83% of Democrats want stricter gun control laws and approximately half of Republicans share this wish (Shepard). A majority of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents support a path for undocumented immigrants in becoming legal citizens according to Pew Research in 2015, about a year prior to Trump’s comments on Mexicans (Goo). Trump, when he first decided to run for president, did not even represent the views of over half of his own party, and certainly did not represent the views of half the country, who are Democrats.
If this is the case, then how did we get here? How have the same ongoing issues in this nation (gun control, immigration, etc.) been convoluted into extreme solutions met with vehement disagreement and impassioned excitement, effectively closing all opportunities of a compromise between Democrats, Republicans, and this nation at large? We vie for the same outcomes–safety, economic prosperity, and equality–yet speak in different languages. These separate languages are typically merged through a mediator, a translator, a President. One who can act as a bridge between two sides of the same argument. Nothing speaks louder of this communication divide than the election of Donald J. Trump.
In his inaugural address, Trump states, “The establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. That all changes starting right here and right now. Because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you” (The Inaugural Address). Straight away, Trump establishes an ‘us v. them’ mentality, a significant departure from the united theme other presidents have carried in their inaugural addresses. Bill Clinton, for example, began his speech by immediately identifying us as being united under this country which belongs to all: ”My fellow citizens, today we celebrate the mystery of American renewal. This ceremony is held in the depth of winter, but by the words we speak and the faces we show the world, we force the spring, a spring reborn in the world’s oldest democracy that brings forth the vision and courage to reinvent America” (William J. Clinton: Inaugural Address). Unlike Trump, Clinton establishes no enemy against whom to launch attacks. Trump, by pitting “us” against “them” (the establishment) bring us closer to having a more concrete point at which to direct our anger, which many have taken the opportunity to do. Trump supporters have since rejoiced in referring to news networks like CNN “fake news” for reporting unpleasant facts regarding the Trump administration.
Such “fake news” includes serious reports on climate change’s effect on this nation. NASA reports that arctic ice level has been steadily decreasing by 13.2% and carbon dioxide levels are at a record high–406.06 million (Global Climate Change). More hurricanes, more droughts, more flooding (Global Climate Change: Effects). This is not gun control. This is not immigration. This is the future of humanity. Trump’s refusal to acknowledge climate change goes far beyond our childish inability to come to a consensus on domestic problems. Trump’s claims that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese to stop U.S. production, and thousands agreeing with him, is terrifying in that the very concept of truth and fact in this nation has been compromised, with devastating effects. Trump’s stance on climate change is yet another rung on the ladder of consistently one-sided, uninformed political decisions that have met the approval of those who feel wronged by an establishment Trump has spent more time talking about rather than deconstructing.
If we cannot see a future in which Americans are not on opposite sides of every conceivable domestic problem, allowing our emotions of pride and hatred to cloud truth, America as a nation will not last. America, a world leader serving as an example to billions of people, rejects climate change. The funny part being that words cannot stop the hurricanes from arriving, the droughts from occurring, and the floods from ruining our communities. Trump looks to his audience, says it’s time to “make America great again”, gives one final smile, and steps down.









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