Thursday, June 8, 2017

Between the Bridges

Between the Bridges in Broad Channel
Peter J. Mahon
June 8th, 2017

Somewhere in heaven Gerald Ford is chuckling to himself!

Having lived in Broad Channel since1993 and experienced my fair share of tidal flooding... as well as storm surges from nor'easters, tropical storms and hurricanes...I do consider myself to be at least somewhat environmentally conscious.  Nevertheless,  I couldn't help but notice all the weeping, gnashing of teeth and plethora of nightmarish environmental predictions of an impending global apocalypse stemming from the President's decision last week to withdraw from the  Paris Climate Agreement, an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigationadaptation and finance.  One would almost think we should all be spending our time updating our wills, honing our survivalist skills not to mention undergoing vasectomies and tubal ligations so as to spare our progeny the horror of being forced to live constantly hot, hungry and wet while afloat on an endless ocean not unlike Kevin Costner in "Waterworld" or freezing, hungry and snow covered while trudging across encroaching  glaciers not unlike Dennis Quaid in "The Day After Tomorrow."  I should also mention that Trump's decision has been derided by the ACLU as "racist" but I am still trying to make sense of that one.

On the other hand, we could also pause to calmly and rationally think about all the political games and machinations that brought us to this point. Remember the Kyoto Climate Protocols?  Back in 1997 then President Clinton and Vice President Gore publicly went to Kyoto to negotiate an agreement that gave their administration a climate-friendly face.  What most of the public did not know was that just a few months before the UN climate change conference in Kyoto, senators in the US Congress unanimously adopted a resolution stating that the US should not be a signatory to any agreement that would mandate new commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions only in industrialized countries or that would result in serious harm to the US economy. The Kyoto Protocol did not conform to either of these requirements and both Clinton and Gore, having already given up hope of achieving an agreement that would be acceptable to the Senate before they even set foot in Japan, disingenuously proceeded to play to their base anyway.  The agreement finally reached by Clinton/Gore at Kyoto was so unappealing to US legislators that the president and vice president did not even send it to the Senate for deliberation when they came home. That was how certain they were it would not be accepted.  

Without Senate approval or involvement, the Kyoto Protocols lingered until President George Bush declared the Kyoto Protocol dead because it would exempt developing countries and would harm the US economy. President's Bush's decision caused a similar "the sky is falling" reaction from all the nations chicken littles.

Fast forward to the Obama administration's decision to enter into the more recent Paris Climate Agreement while also ignoring the Senate's previously mentioned 1997 resolution and did not include the Senate, or Congress as a whole, in the negotiations of this agreement. During a March 31, 2015, press briefing, Obama's White House spokesman Josh Earnest was asked "…Is this the kind of agreement that Congress should have the ability to sign off on?"  The Obama administration's reply was "…I think it’s hard to take seriously from some Members of Congress who deny the fact that climate change exists, that they should have some opportunity to render judgment about a climate change agreement."

Apparently, no Member of Congress who questioned climate science, or who disagreed with the Obama Administration’s policy views on climate change, was deemed competent to review a major international agreement negotiated by the President. That was an alarming view on the role of Congress and particularly the Senate where, as in this case, the international commitments being made by the executive branch would have significant domestic implications.  Alarming - yes.!  All too often today's political ideology is accompanied with a hard line view that " it is my way or the highway."

Fast forward to this past week when President Trump, obviously realizing that the Paris Agreement was an "open door" for future U.S. administrations to regulate and spend hundreds of millions of dollars on international climate programs, just as the Obama administration did, without any input from Congress, announced that the U.S. would be withdrawing from the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (the Paris Agreement) stating, "The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers . . . and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms  of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production. President Trump also added that  he was open to negotiating a new climate deal that, in his assessment, would be more fair to U.S. interests.

A President who wants a climate agreement that is "fair" to American interests.  How did that play with all of our nation's horsemen of climate apocalypse?  The headline in the NY Daily News (and parroted by Senator Chuck Schumer) said it all..."Trump to World...Drop Dead!"  

Somewhere in heaven Gerald Ford is standing with St.Peter chuckling to himself! 

Broad Channel, why would anyone want to live anywhere else?

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