Despite Trump, People Are Still Working Towards Saving The Planet [Opinion]

Since Thursday’s announcement by President Donald Trump that he would be pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, there has been a tremendous amount of anger and discontent being voiced by the American public and around the world at his decision. People took to Twitter, Facebook, and the streets to protest the move, and politicians, celebrities, and leaders in the science community have publicly expressed their outrage and disappointment.

Even though it was something that Trump had promised to do on the campaign trail, some held hope that he would back down from his pledge. At times, it even seemed like that was exactly what was happening. But on Thursday, as he stood among the famous White House Rose Garden, ironically enough, he made the public decree that the U.S, would no longer be honoring the commitment it had made in 2015 under then-President Barack Obama.

Now, after the story had dominated the headlines for more than a few news cycles, the majority of our attention is commanded by the horrific terror attacks in London on Saturday. Sometimes it seems as if nothing good will ever come out of any of this. We’re angry, we’re depressed, and most of all we’re exhausted.

But, self-care is important in these trying times of the past few months. Part of that comes in making sure that we take in enough positivity to outweigh all the negative being forced on us hour after hour by the constantly streaming news feeds reporting these outrageous acts. Or at least enough to counteract the anger and exhaustion that many of us are feeling. And there is positivity out there for us. We just have to know where to look.

Though our focus might be on the most sinister stories we see, sometimes there are actually some positive outcomes. For example, in response to the suicide bombing at her Manchester concert on May 22, Ariana Grande returned to the stage with others in Manchester to hold a “One Love” benefit concert, which was streamed for free on Facebook and YouTube, in defiance of the hateful message the bombing was meant to convey. While nothing will ever take away the pain of the families that lost loved ones, people coming together and supporting each other and those families is the exact opposite of what the terrorist wanted.

As far as positive outcomes to a negative event, Trump exiting the Paris Climate Accord is no different. Of course, we can’t compare Trump’s decision to the death and carnage of a suicide bomber targeting a concert. But, when it comes to unintended positive consequences, the two have some semblance of similarity. Despite his decision and the terrible effects it may have on the future of the planet, there is actually some positivity that has come as a result of his announcement.

For one, the global community has stood in defiance of his decision. There are over 190 nations still participating in the deal, which set goals to limit the carbon emissions that they produce, and none have decided to follow in the U.S. President’s footsteps as of yet. This sort of unity on a global scale is difficult to achieve, and the Trump administration’s actions seem to have done that unity little harm. Perhaps it has even strengthened it.

German Greens Party protests Trump's decision to exit the Paris Climate Accord

Additionally, the U.S. won’t be able to officially exit the Paris Climate Accord until November 4, 2020. That leaves a three and a half year window for Trump to reverse his decision and, with the deadline so close to the next U.S. Presidential Election, there will likely be a lot of pressure on him to do so by then if he hasn’t already. Of course, it’s possible that he would reverse course for his reelection campaign just to turn around and follow through with it if he did regain the White House. But in either case, he will likely end up losing a lot of support.

But perhaps the most promising result of President Trump’s decision to exit the Paris deal is the fact that, since then, U.S. businesses and companies around the world have reaffirmed their own commitment to creating a cleaner, greener, low-carbon world. The renewable energy industry is growing, employing almost 10 million people worldwide, and many of the world’s largest corporations, like Google, have committed to becoming powered by 100% renewable energy in the very near future.

Power panels at the El Bonillo Solar Plant in Spain.

According to Frederik Dahlmann, the assistant professor of global energy at the Warwick Business School in the UK, Trump pulling out of the Paris deal will be seen as “significantly anachronistic and self-harming” for years to come.

“At a time when costs in the renewable energy sector are falling significantly and clean tech employment is reaching record levels, combined with other key economies’ desire – notably the EU and China – to accelerate rather than to stop these trends, politically the US will find itself in growing isolation, and face accusations of scientific ignorance and moral irresponsibility.”

Dozens of U.S. states and cities have also made public commitments to uphold the Paris Climate Accord as much as possible within their own abilities. Regardless of his best attempts, it would seem that Trump inadvertently reignited a passion for protecting the planet in the American people and around the globe. Of course, he didn’t mean to, but perhaps that will make the victory just a little bit sweeter, and the determination to resist such a potentially disastrous decision that much more resolved. Despite Trump’s decision, or perhaps because of it, maybe we aren’t quite ready to give up on saving the planet just yet.

[Featured Image by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images]