The U.S. shocked no one when Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord this spring. It was simply another move in the President and Congress’s gleeful, planned game of gutting environmental and conservation regulations. The laundry list of protections those currently making the rules have removed is long and disturbing. So rejecting Paris (which, truth be told, had little bite to it but at least agreed that the nations of the world needed to face the problem of how we are choking our planet) was to be expected.
On one level, this is what astronomer Carl Sagan called “willful ignorance.” Businesses that benefit from lax regulations support slashing them. As legendary snowboarder and Protect Our Winters (POW) founder Jeremy Jones wrote in a letter published on ElevationOudoors.com this spring: “Republican leaders want to kill these efforts because they’ve put ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy and other fossil fuel companies before your best interests. That’s called crony capitalism, and it’s a complete affront to free market principles.” On the surface, the argument is that these regulations hurt business and take away jobs. That’s a line that may resonate with some supporters, and it may have some validity, but the truth is that this wave of industry friendly attacks is based in simple partisan politics on the personal level. They hate them because liberals like them.
That political bitterness does no good for the country, and worse for a planet in increasing danger. On the other hand, many liberals (me included) do little to advance their causes by failing to listen to those with differing political views or by standing only by their own solutions. It does not have to be this way. Extreme partisan politics are the biggest danger to forward progress on climate change and other environmental issues right now.
Love of the outdoors and the environment does not have to be broken down on partisan lines. Look at programs like The Sierra Club’s Military Outdoors, which brings often conservative veterans out in the wild to benefit from and protect it. These are not typical treehuggers, but they are men and women who care about the planet beyond politics. We need more programs and solutions like these that value the outdoors above partisan single-mindedness. The only solutions won’t be enforced, but agreed upon.
Want proof? Look at cities across the U.S.A., from Denver to New York to Pittsburgh, that promised to abide by the Paris Accord when Trump tore it up. Look at carmakers continuing to build eco-vehicles. Look at outdoor brands like Patagonia, Keen, Columbia and Fjallraven continuing to fight for the planet and build sustainable products. We can move forward despite those trying to play a political game that lines their pockets.