Well, the United States is withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, President Donald J. Trump said this month. The agreement is unfair “to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers,” he said. His Environmental Protection Agency director, Scott Pruitt, long ago called the accord “a bad deal.”

What do they mean by this, exactly? The Paris agreement is intended to protect everybody from disasters caused by, for example, rising sea levels, changing and amped-up severe weather patterns, rising sea temperature (for example, the lobster industry’s concern about the Gulf of Maine.)

The agreement, Trump said in his announcement, “disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers … and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production.” What the word “exclusive” means here is anybody’s guess. But all his points after that, also mostly of debatable accuracy, concerned money. Protecting air and water just costs too much money. Money trumps all other concerns.

Whether you realize it or not, this is a moral judgment. Making money is good. Parting with money is bad. These simple ideas are the moral basis for Sen. James Inhofe’s statement on the pope’s 2015 “Laudato Si” encyclical exhorting the world to stop degrading our own home planet. “The pope ought to stay with his job,” Inhofe said, “and we’ll stay with ours.” He meant that money comprises separate — and higher — moral values than anything that concerns the pope. Money is more important than spiritual, ethical and community health. And separate.

At the G7 conference in Bologna this month, the U.S. also pulled out of an agreement that calls the Paris climate accord the “irreversible” global tool to address climate change. Also in association with the conference, an interfaith group including Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and others released the “Bologna Interfaith Charter,” backing up the pope. “We share a sacred commitment to protect the environment and a moral responsibility to hold nations, corporations, and communities accountable for how they treat the planet.”

What do these religious leaders think they’re doing, trying to impose the notion that we have responsibilities?

Our moral values are outlines of what we take to be good, beneficial, constructive to our lives, and of what we take to be bad, detrimental, destructive. They aren’t always clear-cut and have been continuously debated and revised in public for the past 2,500 years — even murder, in special cases, is sometimes deemed morally necessary. But inside these discussions, certain core values rise to the surface to guide virtually all human cultures: honesty, courage, moderation, compassion, loyalty, health (physical and mental), wisdom (meaning, in one sense, the ability to acquire and beneficially use knowledge), and fairness are more or less universally thought of as good — hard as they often are to define in specific situations.

The ability to make money is not among the survivor moral virtues. In fact, the quality that often accompanies it, avarice, until about 35 years ago was usually viewed as a fatal vice. Why? Not because Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha or Confucius said so. But because avarice is always destructive. Civilization after civilization.

So what the interfaith leaders and billions of others of us see happening is the love of money trumping the destruction of oceans, shorelines, lakes, deserts, mountains, woods — home. Loyalty to home, fairness and compassion being important, not to mention survival (should we let the Maldive islands and beach communities in Florida go underwater because we don’t want to part with some money to try to prevent it?), we have moral responsibilities to our surroundings that are much, much larger than numbers in bank accounts.

If the Earth goes down, your finances will go down with it. Ask the Maine lobstermen what I mean, if you still can’t figure it out.

There are signs of hope (remember faith, hope and charity?), though overall things do not look good because of Trump, Pruitt, Inhofe, our own windblown political moth Rep. Bruce Poliquin and all the other cosmic etceteras of money morality.

For illustration, here’s your occasional rundown of recent climate-related events:

• On June 6, the EPA delayed by one year a deadline for states’ implementation of new ozone emission restrictions. Ozone is a smog-causing gas. Smog sickens and kills people.

• On June 14, the EPA delayed for two years new restrictions on methane emissions by oil and gas companies. Methane is a greenhouse gas. It accelerates the warming of the atmosphere. The warming atmosphere melts glaciers, causing floods and drying up drinking water supplies, raises sea levels, changes ecological structures.

• On May 28, the single hottest day on Earth ever recorded occurred in Turbat, Pakistan. It was 128.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Last month was the Earth’s third-hottest May on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency. May 2016 and 2015 were hotter.

• Southeast Australia just finished its hottest summer on record. Temperatures hit 95 degrees more than 50 days in a row in some places.

• Parts of eastern Africa and the nearby ocean had record warm temperatures during May.

• A recent study showed that increasing toxic algae (red tide) outbreaks are linked to ocean warming.

• Perhaps taking a cue from U.S. climate policy “leadership,” Brazil is considering measures to roll back environmental protections. This is good for making money by cutting down trees, but bad for the Earth’s atmosphere, which depends heavily on rain forests to absorb carbon dioxide. The whole “good-bad” thing.

On the bright side:

• Brazil’s president vetoed one of the environmental rollbacks. More remain.

• Perhaps taking a cue from the sudden counterproductivity of U.S. climate policy “leadership,” Sweden became the first country since the Paris accord to take further significant steps to increase its climate protections through law.

• Taking a cue from Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris accord, hundreds of U.S. states and cities pledged to try to meet the accord’s standards, including Portland.

• Several Republican lawmakers grilled Pruitt on the EPA’s plans to gut funding for environmental projects such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Beaches on Lake Erie, for example, are becoming coated with slime because of agricultural runoff. Even a GOP congressman from Ohio, Rep. David Joyce, cannot ignore it.

• According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, coal production declined worldwide by more than 6 percent last year, and 19 percent in the U.S. Coal burning piles carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, stoking warming (see above). While Trump, Pruitt and Sen. Mitch McConnell try to revive coal burning (because — they say — it’s an ongoing moneymaker, though countless economic studies belie this), the rest of the world is investing in cleaner ways to make electricity, such as natural gas, wind and solar.

• The Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which has a chapter in central Maine, is gaining some influence with lawmakers by being reasonable.

• And niftily, the Weather Channel opened a Web page which offers actual scientific facts about climate change that dispel avarice-based alternative facts. An encouraging moral decision by the Weather Channel managers.

Dana Wilde lives in Troy. You can contact him at [email protected] His recent book is “Summer to Fall: Notes and Numina from the Maine Woods” available from North Country Press. Backyard Naturalist appears the second and fourth Thursdays each month.

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