Donald Trump boldly declares he will rip up the Paris climate accords, dismantle the EPA, revoke the Clean Power Plan, repeal the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, and open up all national parks and federal lands to oil and gas extraction. Best of all, he promises to build America’s energy future on good ol’ coal power, just the way we did it more than a century ago. Yessir, cowboys and cowgirls, The Donald is going to make America great again even if he kills us all in the process. And most of the rest of the world as well.
Last Tuesday, Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative for climate change affairs, was asked how China would work with a Trump administration if The Donald is elected president. Xie stated that limiting carbon emissions is part of a worldwide trend that will continue to grow. He said he expected a backlash against Trump if he followed through on his promise to “cancel” America’s commitment to the Paris accords.
Using the indirect language so common among Chinese who always strive to couch their thoughts in terms that will not give offense. Xie said. “I don’t think ordinary people would agree if you were to reject that trend. I’m convinced, if it’s a wise leader –especially a political leader — he ought to know that all his policies should conform to the trends of global development.” Did China just call Donald Trump not a wise leader? No, it emphatically did not. But it certainly implied it.
How ironic that China should now be taking the lead on the international stage regarding climate change. A decade ago, China was bringing one or two new coal fired electric generating plants online every week as it raced to become a global manufacturing power. But a funny thing happened on the way to great riches. China’s cities became choked with crippling smog. Respiratory illness soared. People stopped relocating for work or good schools or views of the mountains. The number one consideration for Chinese families when deciding where to live was finding clean air to breathe for themselves and their children.
The Chinese government took notice and reversed course overnight. It stopped building coal fired plants and started building enormous solar power systems in the Gobi Desert. The coal plants were shuttered. Aggressive measures were put in place to convince people to drive electric cars.
At a time when 60% of all Americans are represented in Congress by a climate change denier, being schooled by the Chinese on responsible government should embarrass every American. We like to think we know more than anyone else on earth, but it just may be that our political leaders are some of the dumbest, most venal people ever to inhabit the earth. If we continue to elect idiots to Congress (or as president), we are endangering the health and safety of ourselves, our families and generations as yet unborn.