In my book Christian Nation, the fictional narrator writes, “They said what they would do, and we did not believe them. Then they did what they said they would do.”
Trump told us what he believed about climate change and told us what he would do about the Paris Agreement. And now he has done it.
Ironically for a man who purports to be dedicated to the restoration of America’s prestige and power, he has at a stroke squandered much of the moral authority and prestige built up over the past century. America may be “first” in his alternative universe, but in the real world we now inhabit an exclusive club of climate non-participants with Syria and Nicaragua.
Mr. Putin’s authoritarianism, supported mainly by fossil fuel sales, is now assured. China will pivot cynically but effectively into a climate leadership role, assuring that its workers, and not the disgruntled Americans who handed Trump the Presidency, have the millions of 21st century jobs in green energy.
Earth is of course the biggest loser here. But close behind is American democracy. In polling after the election, 69% of voters said they supported remaining in the Paris Agreement. This included a majority of voters in every state. And even among voters who voted for Trump, only 28% said they favored withdrawal.
Post-enlightenment civilization has been based on reason and science. Today my country repudiated both. I often wondered what it felt like on August 24, 410, when Rome fell to the Visigoths. Now I know.