Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Follow through on the Climate Deal America Should Respect World Opinion and Implement the Paris Accord

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Follow through on the Climate Deal America Should Respect World Opinion and Implement the Paris Accord

Article excerpt

The climate-change accord agreed to in Paris Sunday by some 195 national delegations, including America's, seems right to me, though I confess to not having been a true believer all along the way.

First of all, I am mightily impressed by the fact that it was agreed to by all the big dogs - America, China, India, Japan, Russia and Western Europe - as well as by the middle-range and smaller countries. This occurred despite the excessive talent of that passel of peoples to find reasons to differ on all manner of subjects.

Agreement was achieved even though it presupposes a willingness on the part of countries to reduce their use of fossil fuels - coal and petroleum products. Such fuels to date have been indispensable to economic development across the world.

I do not presume bad faith in the pledges to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. When one thinks of the plethora of subjects upon which some of the countries in Paris cannot reach agreement, that they did so in this case suggests that they have a full appreciation of the importance of the subject.

Second, there is probably no way to get around the facts, first, that the climate is doing weird things, and, second, that if it continues doing them, the results will be catastrophic for the world we all live in.

In my heart of hearts I don't really feel sorry for the rich people who have built houses along the shore and will lose them. But I feel very sorry for the poor people living on islands or lowlands around the world who will find themselves under water, even more so than for an American with a subprime mortgage foreclosed by a greedy lender.

I remember my mother telling a stupid child (me), when I asked why people chose to live in the part of town that was flooded nearly every year by the Ohio River, that they couldn't afford to live up on the hill.

There are, of course, holes in the agreement and, in the end, its efficacy in mitigating the effects of climate change will depend on the willingness of governments and people, where representative governments exist, to carry out the terms of the accord.

It will probably be easy to cheat. The reach of the governments in some countries also will probably not be such that they will be able to impose respect for the terms of the agreement across their populations. I think particularly of countries noteworthy for corruption - such as China, India, Russia and most African countries.

The United States will present unique problems. Here at home it will be a question of the Republicans trying to block implementation of the measures that President Barack Obama has committed us to. The president will have to do as much as he can without getting the Republican-controlled Congress involved, at least until next November when the Democrats have a chance to win control of the Senate. …

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