Thursday, June 01, 2017

The Decline Of The US As A World Power

Trump  has pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement.  Instead of this being a triumph for  the Climate Change Denial movement, I think it will be their last Hurrah.  The shift from carbon based energy has too much momentum.  The real impact will be the loss of power and prestige of the United States of America.

Back in December 2016 I wrote (in a post about change in general):
"My fear is that Trump will do a lot of damage both in the US and the world, before he leaves office. Things that will have to be undone before we can move on.  And while he won't kill people Hitler style, if he does slow down climate change action, the result will be turmoil and human suffering and death around the world.  Severe weather events will create havoc for farmers all over the world.  Rising temperatures mean that crops that grow at a certain latitude now, or with a certain level of rainfall, won't in twenty years or less.   This will disrupt food supplies and livelihoods everywhere."
But it appears that the US pulling out will not cause China and India and other significant players to pull out as well.

The rest of the world  (not to mention many US businesses)  understands that reducing carbon use is a long term common problem for all the peoples of the earth.  While some may lose bigger if we keep on the carbon path, no one will win.

But what will keep them united in the short term is their recognition that switching away from carbon based energy will be good for their economies as well.  They recognize that while the Koch brothers and their ilk who fund the climate change denial movement in the US exist, the world knows that most big businesses, including oil companies, and the US military, acknowledge that climate change is for real and they've already been planning to address it.  They're switching to other energy sources, preparing their facilities, and planning for the new energy economy.

The US pulling out slows things down for sure.  But it appears, not nearly as much as we thought a year ago.  The momentum toward a much more carbon free energy world is already too strong.

The real impact of the US pulling out of the Paris Agreement is that the US will be left behind.  And the rest of the world will realize that they can do things on their own without the US.

Other great world powers have gone this route.  Spain and Portugal are relatively modest nations today.  England is a shadow of what it once was.  All lost their power, in part, because they couldn't adjust their glorious self-images.

The US isn't finished as a nation.  It's just that other nations are discovering that we don't matter as much as we convinced them (and ourselves) that we do.  And we aren't all blind and backward either.  Our previous president was an enthusiastic supporter of the Paris Agreement.  More than half the voters cast their ballots for a candidate who would have kept us in the Paris Agreement.  But it is up to us to prove to the rest of the world that Trump is a short term aberration.

In many ways, we've grown too big for our own good. We believe our own propaganda about our greatness.  But, we've been in almost non-stop wars since WW II.   We've dominated the world power stage.  Letting the rest of the world get more equal casting won't be a bad thing.

Let's just hope I'm right that our withdrawal won't have nearly as much affect on humanity's fight against climate change as we once feared.

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