Curtain Raiser

An Unexpected Coalition, Colltalers

Let’s get this out of the way: Trump withdrawing the U.S. from the 195-country Paris Agreement is not just a backward step in the fight to reverse climate change, and another into irrelevance for America, but also the surrender of its coveted position as leader of the free world.
Whether this represents a promotion to Germany, and a gift to China and Russia, is but one of the many fallout issues from this terrible decision. It prompted a surprising development, though: a possible alliance of states and big corporations to continue just such a fight.
No need to overstate the significance of this development, just as not every storm cloud has a silver lining. But when 30 states are joined by industry giants, including Royal Dutch Shell, Morgan Stanley and Apple, to lower greenhouse gas emissions and continue investing in renewable energy, we are indeed entering a new territory. It’s that rare kind of corporate strategy: one that actually benefits people.
Politically, a group of states rebelling against Washington over a certifiably crucial theme of our time, has enormous repercussions. And represents an ironic twist too, since the Republican Party, one of the biggest foes of any climate change action, has used that same prerogative but to sabotage issues of genuine interest to Americans, such as affordable healthcare, voting rights, and others. Payback time, it seems.
Now, we’re not jumping into the Goldman Sachs bandwagon just yet, even as it’s another sign that Wall Street is already pricing climate change, nor we need corporate endorsements to legitimize what’s been common sense to the majority of humankind for some time now.
But since innovation and new technologies needed to reverse the ongoing disaster cost money, and global environmental organizations struggle with chronic underfunding, we may not have any choice in the matter of who or what is committed to what’s more than a cause.
The sad part of Trump’s first foreign trip, though, was neither the pathetic collection of horrifying decisions he took

while abroad, nor the hardly disguised contempt world leaders are increasingly expressing towards him. It’s the fact that he’s actually fulfilling campaign promises.
What started with the multibillion weapon sales to Saudi Arabia, sure to only worsen the burning of the Middle East and increase 10-fold the terrorist threat within our shores, and culminated with the Paris fiasco, was only the continuation of what he’d told his supporters. Abstracting his sideshow antics and headline-grabbing brutish behavior, this president has turned the U.S. into the embarrassing butt of global jokes.
Even more than George W., whose absolute lack of clue didn’t prevent him from sending thousands of young Americans to their early graves, Trump has managed in a few months, to increase U.S.’s vulnerability to external aggression, while undermining its hard-earned credibility.
But this, unfortunately, is still under the radar of both the media, despite renewed calls for accountability for broadcasters and pundits, and his supporters. Public pressure on 24/7 news networks hasn’t been enough to bring depth to their coverage, and there’s been plenty of discussions, without much of a consensus, over what will finally take for Trump’s constituency to see him for the snake oil salesman he really is.
It was indeed startling to witness his callousness , reciting a list of fully debunked ‘reasons’ for tossing the Paris accord in the garbage. As if it wasn’t already all but painfully clear that this decision, which made the U.S. look less wise than say North Korea and Syria, two signers of the accord, was driven by anything but the specific economic interests of a very restricted group of mega-rich conglomerates and individuals.
As for losing the ‘leader of the free world’ qualifier, the considerations are complex and somewhat ambivalent. After all, the U.S.’s aggressive foreign policy, and that of its allies, of the past 50 years is largely responsible for the state of permanent war in Asia and the Middle East.
Even considering that independence movements by former European colonies were part of the equation, the West’s iron-fist expansionism and demand for uncontested control of political decisions and natural resources, has always been at the core of the region’s many crisis.
Still, for its diversity, size, plurality, and democratic stability, albeit flawed, there’s no question that the U.S. is, or used to be, the better prepared superpower. Specially if compared to other, suspiciously eager candidates to step on U.S. shoes and wear the badge of world police.
We could extend the argument to a long list of implications and the weight of the ‘idea’ of America in the world as a source of inspiration to individual expression and freedom – even if reality on the ground mostly contradicts it – but it’d be a discussion without practical purpose.
Rather, of much bigger concern should be exactly the mortal risk just such an idea is facing now, with Trump in the White House. And what’d be living in a world where not even a tenuous concept of equality and independence would exist, to counter the brutality of the times.
Despite all appearances of incoherence, Trump is following a defined agenda, meticulously checking items of a wish list prepared for him long ago. If it takes the push, and money muscle, of entire industries to expose the destructive potential of such an agenda, then so be it.
This league of unordinary partners may neutralize the impact and sustainability of this absurd idea of his: that a man-made, catastrophic change in climate and atmospheric conditions won’t cost or inflict a heavy toll on Americans, the economy, and on the future of all humans.
Our solidarity to victims of recent carnage in Kabul, Cairo, Manila, Mosul, Manchester, and of course, London. We’re all responsible for the seemingly endless cycle of violence, as if in a call-and-response chorus from hell. But nothing justifies the massacre of civilians. And no country can claim benevolence if it looks the other way and profits from the weapons trade, no matter how naive this sounds.
While they pretend to be stuck in the staggering interconnections of ally factions, undercover forces, mercenary ‘peace keepers,’ and conflicts among tribes, ethnicities and faiths, no one should accept their attribution of priorities, and whose dead is more important than others.
We desperately need to reverse global warming, so to be able to keep our civilization alive for at least another millennium. But we can’t profess to be advocating to preserve life on Earth, in all its forms, if we remain profiting from wars and the business of death and killing. For otherwise, what’s really the point of surviving? In other news, the sun is shining and the weather is beautiful. Go out and enjoy it all. WC


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