Out of touch with reality: Trump’s Paris decision


Associated Press

Photo of Donald Trump speaking about his Paris Agreement decision courtesy of the Associated Press.

James Rudolph, Opinions Editor

Recently, the city of Pittsburgh received a lot of national attention during President Donald Trump’s effort to remove the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

On national television, the President said, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto responded on Twitter with, “I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy and future.”

In an email, a White House spokesman elaborated that the people of Pittsburgh, and other hard-working families across the country are whom Trump is fighting for. Peduto continues to express his disdain for the President’s comments, saying how this city does not support Trump and doesn’t properly represent us at all.

As both an American and a Pittsburgh native living within the city limits, I am deeply saddened by President Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement and his remarks. Not only has he shown his disregard for climate regulations that would help this country, and the world, secure a better tomorrow, he revealed how out of touch he is with the American people, even his own supporters.

The President, on his quest to “solidify American sovereignty,” has shown us his ignorance of the needs of American citizens and sewed further discord between our allies and us. From a Pittsburgh native’s aspect, leaving the deal would damage the city and it’s future.

Clearly President Trump was trying to arouse the image of “Old Pittsburgh” and the mining industry. From a modern, environmental standpoint, “Old Pittsburgh” can be described as “hell with the lid taken off of it.” Pictures showing Pittsburgh in the height of its industry days portray a city blanketed in smoke. Peduto said streetlights had to be on 24-hours a day just so you could see.

Despite seeing an economic boom from the coal and steel industry, the city of Pittsburgh was nearly inhospitable. When the coal and steel industry collapsed, one of the largest job destruction this country has ever seen from one metropolitan area, Pittsburgh was plunged into a depression with a very bad economy and high unemployment. Three-decades later, Pittsburgh has a very new face.

Modern Pittsburgh has become a hub of culture, technology, health and environmental progress. Schools like Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh generated over one billion dollars in research funds in 2010 and made the Pittsburgh work force one of the most educated in the nation.

Both of those universities focus their research on future economic drivers for the country, such as life sciences, information technology, robotics, engineering and medical fields (all of which are in danger from lack of funding due to President Trump’s decision to remove the U.S. from the Paris Agreement). Companies like Google and Uber set up shop in Pittsburgh, attracting some of the most innovative minds in the technology field from all around the world to the city.

In 2015, Zagat rated Pittsburgh the “Number One Food City in America,” creating a national buzz that drew in restaurant business from around the country, and establishing another identifiable aspect of Pittsburgh culture. The rising art scene transformed the industrial style of the city to a unique and beautiful place to live, and draws in a younger population from around the country.

The face of Pittsburgh has changed from a specter of a failed mining industry to a young one of progress and innovation. The fact that President Trump doesn’t identify that, and the decisions he’s made, damages the future progress of this city of mine. That is something myself and the other citizens of Pittsburgh will not stand for.

Pittsburgh’s opposition towards Trump isn’t something new. When examining the 2016 Presidential Election results from South Western Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, Trump is the winner. The U.S Census Bureau defines the Pittsburgh Metropolitan area, as Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

However, its important to understand that the political climate within the city limits of Pittsburgh are drastically different than outside of the city, such as in Washington and Beaver counties. While Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties went to Trump, Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is, gave Hilary Clinton 367,617 votes to Trump’s 259,480 votes. Clearly the citizens of Pittsburgh did not elect President Trump.

Even if the president were fighting for energy jobs, he would effectively damage the energy field in this area for a long time. The Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance and Environmental Entrepreneurs released a study in 2016 that showed 66,000 Pennsylvanians working in renewable-energy fields, 13,000 of those in Pittsburgh alone.

In comparison, the U.S Bureau of labor Statistics revealed 36,500 Pennsylvanians working in the mining, oil and gas industries combined, showing how renewable energy jobs are the top jobs for energy in Pennsylvania. These jobs include building wind turbines and solar panels, building energy renewable windows for structures, and installing HVAC systems to help monitor our energy usage, saving us money in the long run. Leaving the Paris agreement will cut federal funding for renewable energy fields drastically.

On top of that, the lower carbon emission guidelines and environmental regulation will put workers in the nuclear, electrical and natural gas energy fields in direct health risk. The president is blatantly putting the energy-field, and American citizens, at risk in an effort to “strengthen the United States and its role in the world.” He claims to be putting “America First,” while hurting America at the same time.

Anderson Cooper of CNN asked Mayor Peduto if he has a message to President Trump. He answered, “What you did was not only bad for the economy of this country, but also weakened America in this world.”

President Trump, on his recent trips to the Middle East and Europe, showed the contempt he has for the European leaders, especially those we are allies with. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said, “ The times when we could rely on others are, to an extent, over.”

Meanwhile, playing off Trump’s campaign slogan, French President Emmanuel Macron said, “We all share the same responsibility, make our planet great again.”

Our allies’ leadership is writing off the United States as a force for global progress based upon the decisions President Trump made. The international community is beginning to look down on us as Trump continues to alienate the United States from the world. Removing the United States from the world stage cripples us in the long run by damaging our relationship with foreign powers.

What is really embarrassing for the President (in my mind at least) is he could have avoided a lot of backlash from the city of Pittsburgh, and the international community, if he picked a different city in his speech. When asked why he thought Trump chose Pittsburgh, Peduto expressed his thoughts on Trump thinking of the “Old Pittsburgh,” and that Pittsburgh was the first city he thought of that began with the letter “P.”

Meanwhile, Matt Viser from The Boston Globe noticed that, “Trump lost Pittsburgh. And he won in Paris, Maine; Paris, Tennessee; Paris, Arkansas; Paris, Idaho; Paris, Missouri; Paris, Pennsylvania; Paris, Texas.” If President Trump picked any of those cities, at least his statement would have been accurate.

With regards to the city of Pittsburgh, I’ve witnessed its transformation from the time I was a child right up to today. I remember when Lawrenceville wasn’t an attractive place and was almost abandoned as it stood among the ruin of the steel industry. Now, the neighborhood is a hotbed of millennial artists, chefs from around the country and a bustling nightlife.

This is a pattern that is repeating itself throughout the city in neighborhoods like East Liberty, Downtown, Highland Park and Oakland that, on top of one of the most advanced medical areas and technological fields in the country, bolsters the economy of the entire city and the surrounding region. It makes me sad to see a President make decisions that will slow or halt the progress the city of Pittsburgh has made while crawling out of the ruin of the coal and steel industry.

On a practical note, it makes no sense to emphasize coal and natural gas for energy resources, when scientists know that both of those are a limited supply that will run out. Yes, it may be hundreds of years before that happens, but there will still be people here hundreds of years after us (if we don’t kill each other off first).

The cheap and quick energy utilized by fossil fuels and coal is overshadowed by the promises of clean, renewable energy that is given to use by the very elements that surround us like the sun, the ocean’s current and the wind; things that will secure the future of America.

My political views may be different than a majority of Pennsylvanian’s, but I fear for the well-being and future of all Americans. Pittsburgh is just one example of a city, attempting to revitalize itself and become a global force, which suffers at the hands of President Trump’s decisions.

Leaving the Paris Agreement sets the United State’s back behind the rest of the superpowers of the world, all for the sake for one man trying to secure his own “legacy” in the world. Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative, moderate or wherever you may find yourself on the political spectrum, know that President Donald Trump does not have the best interests for you or the rest of America, but cities like Pittsburgh do.