For those who believe the sky is falling because the U.S. is leaving the Paris Climate Agreement, it strikes me as quite odd. While many parts of the world need to be goaded by their peers into reducing their environmental impact, many Americans do this naturally as part of who they are. These Americans have standards higher than anything the Agreement could aspire to have and these Americans willing comply already.
Unlike any other country, the U.S. has a powerful environment force of over 50 million people improving the planet as part of their daily lives. They know a healthy environment makes economic sense as well as saves the thing they most love- their passion for the outdoors. These Americans grew up seeing abuses and then realized pristine areas are more valuable, enjoyable and productive long-term than smelly dead zones. As someone who grew up in one of the most polluted states in the U.S., it still amazes me how dramatically improved my home state is today as well as the improvement in Amerinca since I was a kid.
American anglers (at more than 33 million) and hunters (at over 17 million) are a critical force to clean air, water and a better planet. They were also one of the powerful forces behind the improvements in the U.S over the past couple of decades. Of the 233 countries in the world, only 26 have populations larger. Of the 28 European Union members, only four countries- France, Germany, Italy, and the UK have populations larger than the number of Americans who fish and hunt.
As participants in outdoors sports, this is no theory or debate about saving the earth. Our passion depends on being outstanding stewards of Mother Earth. Habit loss, pollution, planet and climate abuses severely hurt what we love most. This is why so many outdoor enthusiasts, in all sorts of occupations and jobs, spend their time and money on making the environment better. Each knows it is in the doing, not the talk or endless theoretical debates. Nor are most of us afraid to make our voice heard in our own organizations to make sure it too is a good steward of the planet. Everything they do it out of respect for the planet and the outdoors.
Next consider all the Americans who enjoy the outdoors. Outdoor recreation supports more than 6.1 million jobs and a combined $80 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue. More American jobs depend on trail sports (768,000) than there are lawyers (728,200) in the U.S. Just the hunters in Texas alone create more jobs than Exxon-Mobile.
Nowhere in the world is this force matched. Americans devote more money to enjoying the outdoors than buying gasoline, purchasing pharmaceutical drugs, or owning cars combined. More than 44 percent of Americans make outdoor recreation a priority, adding up to an annual economic impact of $646 billion in 2013, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. (By comparison, Americans buy $354 billion worth of gas and other fuels.) Outdoor enthusiasts already have more economic clout than most of the world. In terms of GDP, this makes the American outdoor enthusiasts, the 20th largest economy in the World.
We do not need a symbolic agreement with no teeth to make us do the right thing. Nor do we want to hear from arrogant politicians who say they are the only ones who care about planet. Their closest experience with the outdoors is likely an Excel spreadsheet or pie chart they saw in a climate study. This insults everyone in America who enjoys the outdoors, is passionate about keeping it protected and works to save it.
While many may say the U.S. is terrible for walking away and it will decline in world status for leaving the Paris Climate Agreement, asks any American outdoor enthusiast and they are likely to say, we are the power and the ones who have been making the planet better already.
Reminds me of what U2 lead singer Bono said, “I’m tired on the Dreaming. I am into the doing at the moment.”
And if people around the world truly believe more should be done to save the planet, perhaps they should start by encouraging more people to participate in hunting and fishing than going to climate lectures.