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President Donald Trump fails humanity on climate change

For many years, leading architects in the American Institute of Architects (AIA) have recognized our duty to reduce the energy, water and other natural resources — particularly extracted and non-renewable resources — that are embodied and consumed in the buildings we design. In recent years, our efforts have been joined by those of other professionals, businesses, and government agencies and branches to reduce and reverse the negative consequences that human consumptive behavior has on our environment.

The science is not in dispute: if we fail to act, we will reach the tipping point when the damage to the world’s natural systems will be irreversible. When that time comes, man’s fate will be sealed.

This is a fact, not a hoax or a left-wing conceit. That is why the leadership of almost all of the world’s successful businesses includes Chief Sustainability Officers, whose jobs it is to shape company policies, identify opportunities and protect their companies from risks associated with our changing climate.

President Trump’s decision to make a better deal for America than the Paris Agreement reflects an undeveloped grasp of the deal’s participants. The Paris Agreement is not just a deal between nations; it is a deal whereby all the citizens of the world would reshape our current and near-term behaviors in exchange for the prospect for a long-term future for all of the humankind.

Giving up our commitment to combat climate change in order to pursue short-term economic growth and job generation for America is a business plan that requires capital borrowed at a rate so high that we cannot possibly repay the debt. In the business world, such behavior results in bankruptcy, but when the so-called leader of the free world borrows on these terms, the result will be a calamity and, perhaps, human extinction.

We have already seen the disastrous effects of human-shaped climate change in our country; in some others, it has been devastating. Those who predicted such impacts years ago find no comfort seeing them now. Continuing to deny this reality is only a path to destruction and oblivion.

Tom Howorth, FAIA

Oxford