Friday, 02 June 2017 20:39

Opinion: America leaving Paris Agreement does not make America great

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While thawing glaciers release explosive methane that destroys the ozone and icebergs the size of Vermont threaten to increase sea levels by inches, Donald Trump kept his promise to withdraw America, the world’s second-leading producer of carbon emissions, from the Paris Agreement on climate change. Apparently, Trump’s America is too good or too greedy to care for the Earth we all call home.

Thanks to Trump’s uninformed decision, he’s actually made China and the European Union look good. Despite China and the EU ranked first and third in carbon emissions, respectively, they intend to form an alliance to further lower global carbon emissions. Both are still committed to the terms negotiated in the Paris Agreement, and the EU has even offered China $11.2 million to support China’s plan to cut carbon emissions.

So America is becoming imperial China, and communist China is becoming America, and not just when it comes to climate change. This sudden love of American nationalism is simply the American version of Chinese sinocentrism. But believing you are the center of the world does not make it so, and there are plenty of disadvantages associated with that arrogance.

Trump’s nationalism is making it more difficult for America to do business overseas everyday. He hopes to create American jobs but shrinks the market for American goods every time he does something like leave the Paris Agreement or Tweets about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or any other trade agreement. If you don’t think trade partners take notice of that and act accordingly, you’re as ignorant as you are arrogant.

The things Americans perceive to be necessities are not made in America. Computers, televisions, mobile phones, handheld devices and their components are mostly made in Asia. As of 2011, China produced over 90 percent of all personal computers, 80 percent of all air conditioners, 80 percent of energy-saving light bulbs, 74 percent of solar cell production, and over 70 percent of all mobile phones. Do you think the prices of those items will increase or decrease as a result of China spending to limit carbon emissions while America does nothing to curb climate change?

Think we can build those things here in America? Think again. An American-made iPhone would cost $2,000 because Apple pays a little over $5 to construct a $600 phone. The whole idea of bringing back American production jobs is preposterous, which is why Trump’s nationalistic words and actions are so dangerous. Unlike China, America doesn’t have the production-based economy to back up its nationalism. If the things Americans needed were actually made in America by Americans, then sinocentrism would make sense. But that’s not the case at all. In fact, America depends on its trade agreements like NAFTA, and those agreements are not the reason for decreasing production jobs. NAFTA has been particularly good to farmers and ranchers and those in the automotive industry. Yet many of these farmers and ranchers and automotive workers supported Trump for uninformed or misguided reasons.

America made its bed with foreign automakers long ago, offering deep tax cuts and free money to build giant plants to put Americans to work building foreign cars. That’s not a recipe for success if one of your nation’s cornerstone industries is automobiles. That also can’t be undone, so bitching about the lack of auto exports because America doesn’t have the same deals in place with those automakers who fleeced the U.S. will get us nowhere. Building an automobile that everyone in the world wants will, however, allow for increased auto exports, and I fully expect the Tesla Model 3 to be that automobile. Hell, if Americans could get over their uninformed or misguided opinion that American cars aren’t as reliable or “nice” as foreign cars, there’d be little reason to bitch about the state of the auto industry. Frankly, if you’re an American driving anything but American, we should ship you overseas, not the cars.

America can also take pride in decreasing petroleum imports. The Tesla Model 3 should continue contributing to this decline, as will the Tesla Solar Roof and the fastest growing industry in America -- renewable energy. When America’s strongest industry’s mission is quite literally curbing climate change, there’s no need to risk relations with trade partners by withdrawing from a climate change agreement. It’s oxymoronic, but that’s what we’ve come to expect from Trump.

Cutting yourself off from the world and doing whatever the hell you please doesn’t mean you’re the only place in the world. You still have neighbors to whom you have to placate, and whether you acknowledge their existence or not, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a way of fighting back. I fully expect America’s imports of Chinese products to increase from the current $462.8 billion figure specifically due to a raise in cost and not in quantity. That’s what I would do to a trade partner who said he was going to help me do something and then didn’t.

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