NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14: Michael Bloomberg speaks on stage during The Robin Hood Foundation's 2018 benefit at Jacob Javitz Center on May 14, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Robin Hood)

When President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, he didn’t just damage the global environment. He damaged the country's reputation. Since World War II, the United States has pledged to be a global leader, using its wealth, power and influence to make decisions that impact people around the planet. World leaders saw the U.S. as an example and its president as “leader of the free world.” That is no longer the case. Instead, some are hoping, the acts of individual Americans could signal to the rest of the world that Trump doesn’t speak for all Americans.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg said that if the government of the second-largest polluting country won’t participate in this near-global agreement, then it’s up to individuals to step up. He put his money where his mouth is, pledging to donate $4.5 million of his own money to the operations of the UN Climate Change Secretariat in 2018, and will do so again next year if the U.S. continues to stand with climate deniers.

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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 19: President of France Emmanuel Macron addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters, September 19, 2017 in New York City. Among the issues facing the assembly this year are North Korea's nuclear developement, violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar and the debate over climate change. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

France is the new leader of the free world, at least where climate change is concerned. After President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord in June, French President Emmanuel Macron announced Wednesday that France will cover the amount the U.S. contributed to the United Nations' climate science research.

“They will not miss a single euro,” Macron said, according to Reuters.

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Hurricane Irma in the Atlantic.

There may be no natural disaster more humbling than hurricanes, with their gale force winds and flood-surges that destroy people’s homes, livelihoods and lives. Now two of them, back-to-back, have battered the United States and parts of the Caribbean and Cuba in the space of three weeks, including Harvey, a Category 4 hurricane, which left much of Houston underwater, and Irma, which started out as a Category 5, the biggest hurricane to hit the United States since Andrew in 1992.

“The U.S. has never been hit, since we started collecting records in 1851, by two Category 4 or stronger hurricanes in the same season,” said Jeff Masters, a meteorologist and co-founder of Weather Underground.

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Long before former Vice-President Al Gore’s 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth impressed upon the world the urgency of tackling our human impact on global warming—now sanitized and called “climate change”—climate scientists have been warning us about this ticking doomsday clock since at least the 1970s. It was no small act, then, to bring 197 countries together to sign the Paris Agreement, a significant stride to reduce carbon emissions and keep global temperature well below an increase of two degrees Celsius. Those two mere degrees are considered a tipping point after which reversal of climate change will be all but impossible. A significant factor in 2015 agreement’s success, after failed negotiations in 2009, was that the Paris Agreement allows countries to decide independently how to lower their emissions, rather than adopt a single unifying strategy. New York Magazine hailed the agreement as Obama’s “major accomplishment” during his time in office.

It comes as no surprise, then, to those who have followed President Donald Trump’s policy on the environment that he announced he would pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. After all, he appointed lawyer and Republican politician Scott Pruitt to the EPA, a man known to prioritize the oil and gas industries' interests ahead of the environment, scrubbed climate data from the EPA’s website, and plans to significantly cut its budget. He has also made clear his determination to undo many of Obama’s strides toward clean power to protect nearly-obsolete coal jobs, and, some argue, to continue to give his associates in the extractive industries tax breaks. World leaders were none too pleased, expressing their displeasure and reaffirming their commitment to the agreement. And the governors of California, New York, and Washington states quickly formed the United States Climate Alliance, a coalition of states intending to uphold the Paris Agreement with or without the White House.

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As climatologists warn that global warming is moving faster than predicted, with increasingly dire effects, President Trump appears to be turning a blind eye to this overwhelming data—information on climate change has been removed from the EPA’s website, and his administration has threatened to pull out of the Paris Agreement. (That’s the milestone agreement signed under President Obama, in which nearly 200 countries agreed to reduce carbon emissions by 2025 by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 emissions level--that’s a reduction of 1.6 billion tons, which is crucial to keep global temperature from rising a damaging two degrees Celsius.)

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