One terrible game to play during this presidency is to assess the actual cost of the damage Donald Trump will have wrought by the time he’s done being president. How many people will lose their health insurance? How many Americans will be blocked from voting? How many hate crimes will we endure?
The president’s failure to acknowledge or address climate change ranks high in the catastrophic-Trump-decisions Olympics. Failure to act—or worse, acting to exacerbate—climate change could have lasting implications for the entire planet. It’s true that the train may be out of the station when it comes to avoiding climate change altogether, but we can still attempt to mitigate and alleviate the worst of the effects. In that context, Trump’s almost-guaranteed decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement, the most promising global initiative addressing climate change, seems like a big deal.
And it is, but not because his decision to withdraw will catapult us toward assured and quick global demise. In fact, in recent weeks, many people have started to realize that Trump pulling out of the Paris Agreement is perhaps the best thing that could happen for the future of the agreement and, by side effect, the planet. After all, the accord is largely a voluntary gentleman’s agreement. Trump has exhibited absolutely no gentlemanly interest in keeping the light promises America has made under the agreement, regardless of whether we pull out.