…Is because he has a very powerful bullshit detector. We know this thanks to a fascinating and unwittingly revelatory article in the German newspaper Der Spiegel.
The paper reveals how, in the days running up to President Trump’s decision to quit the UN Paris accord, he received a series of deputations from EU leaders urging him to change his mind.
“For me it’s easier to stay in than step out,” Trump told them.
This is perfectly true. Since his momentous Rose Garden speech announcing his plans to pull out of Paris, Trump has taken more flak than a thousand-bomber raid over Berlin in ’44.
He has upset his daughter Ivanka, his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, his financial advisor Gary Cohn. On top of that, he has given the entire liberal half of the planet, plus sundry conservative squishes, the perfect excuse they needed to dismiss him as a science-denying loon in thrall to Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Evil, etc…
So what was it that tipped Trump over the edge?
Well sure, as he made clear in his brilliant White House speech, it was about American jobs.
But while I’ve no doubt that that fact provided the rational basis for his bold, principled decision, I think we can look elsewhere for the tipping point.
And here it is, in black and white, in Der Spiegel‘s account of how the G7 leaders tried to badger Trump at the summit in Taormina, Sicily.
Leaders of the world’s seven most powerful economies were gathered around the table and the issues under discussion were the global economy and sustainable development.
The newly elected French president, Emmanuel Macron, went first. It makes sense that the Frenchman would defend the international treaty that bears the name of France’s capital: The Paris Agreement. “Climate change is real and it affects the poorest countries,” Macron said.
Then, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reminded the U.S. president how successful the fight against the ozone hole had been and how it had been possible to convince industry leaders to reduce emissions of the harmful gas.
Finally, it was Merkel’s turn. Renewable energies, said the chancellor, present significant economic opportunities. “If the world’s largest economic power were to pull out, the field would be left to the Chinese,” she warned. Xi Jinping is clever, she added, and would take advantage of the vacuum it created. Even the Saudis were preparing for the post-oil era, she continued, and saving energy is also a worthwhile goal for the economy for many other reasons, not just because of climate change.
At which point, Trump’s bullshit detector must have been bleeping off the scale. Let’s examine those arguments, one by one.
First, Mummy’s Boy Macron’s line that “Climate change is real and it affects the poorest countries.”
The first half is trivially true: climate has indeed been changing for the 4.5 billion years of the planet’s existence. But the notion that recent climate change is catastrophic, unprecedented and significantly man-made is a shaky theory, not a proven fact. And in any case it is beside the point. Even supposing that climate change is all those things, it doesn’t alter the fact that Paris is a pointless waste of money, especially for countries like the U.S. which are expected to bear the burden of the cost.