President Donald Trump has decided to screw the planet and rescind America’s ratification of the Paris Agreement. This is bad for everyone. Scientists and activists are irate, but the Vatican is by far the most powerful opponent of Trump’s decision (the pope does lead roughly a billion people, after all). Reuters reports that the head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, had some strong words for the president (preceding his official announcement that he would actually withdraw).
“If he really does (pull out), it would be a huge slap in the face for us,” Sorondo told the Roman newspaper La Repubblica and later confirmed his comments with Reuters. “It will be a disaster for everyone.”
We know it’s not exactly in the Vatican’s nature to so explicitly target or name Trump, but the bishop was clear about the church’s position. “[Withdrawing] would not only be a disaster but completely unscientific. Saying that we need to rely on coal and oil is like saying that the earth is not round,” Sorondo said. “It is an absurdity dictated by the need to make money.”
The bishop does have a point: Trump’s cabinet is stacked with former oil executives and politicians whose coffers have long been lined with fossil fuel industry donations. But even some of those oil allies encouraged Trump to remain in the landmark treaty; Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon CEO, pressed the president to ratify the agreement to curtail carbon emissions. But to no avail.
Make the planet great again? Nah. But we really shouldn’t be that surprised considering the president once tweeted climate change was a hoax engineered by China to outperform the United States economically. Perversely, China is actually capitalizing on climate change and outpacing America on another metric: investment in renewable energy. In January, China’s state energy agency announced its plans to invest $361 billion in solar by 2020 and create more than 13 million jobs in the industry.