PARIS -- Last Friday afternoon, while a historic heat wave was finally subsiding across France, I strolled by the Elysee Palace, home of the French president, as a massive black Range Rover pulled up to the door. (This at a time when the transit authority was offering locals special rates to get us out of our cars as pollution ticked up and the temperature hit 40 degrees Celsius.) A palace staffer opened the door and out popped Arnold Schwarzenegger, environmental activist. French President Emmanuel Macron greeted Schwarzenegger with a handshake.
How about starting with making Western infrastructure -- including French air conditioning -- great again?
I could nitpick, as many on social media have, that Schwarzenegger didn't squeeze all of his muscles into a tiny Smart car. I'm just glad that he was comfortable here in Paris in the extreme heat. The rest of us sure weren't. Rather than playing superheroes in a buddy movie, perhaps Schwarzenegger and Macron can fix what's just on the other side of the palace wall before taking on the rest of the planet's problems?
Let's ignore the debate on climate change and whether or not its man-made, and whether it's hotter in the summertime now than it was a half-century ago. Records show that there were hotter days decades ago in France and in North America. The difference is that modern technology has allowed for our societies to adapt to adverse weather conditions so they're not as noticeable. I still recall lying in bed in my childhood home in Vancouver, Canada, 30 years ago, unable to sleep in 35C heat. That same heat still exists when I go back to Canada in the summertime, except we now have this thing called air conditioning. (Tell that to the French, though.)
While Macron was promoting planetary reform, kids just to the north in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis were opening fire hydrants to fill inflatable pools and the streets with water in order to escape the heat. "Streetpooling" resulted in about 600 hydrants being opened, wasting enough water to fill 240 Olympic-sized pools over four weeks, French utility company Veolia told the daily newspaper Le Figaro. That prompted French police to issue a public service notice with a drawing of a fire hydrant and the caption, "This is not a shower."
And as the government encouraged the French to use mass transit for a special reduced price, citizens who accepted that offer were forced to withstand a virtual hell. Buses and subways were transformed into crowded infernos -- again, without any air conditioning. I have a transit pass and typically use it to get around the city, but during the heat wave I turned to air-conditioned Uber.
Even hospitals sometimes lack such modern comforts, as an American friend who gave birth in Paris in the heat of summertime recently discovered. My local post office put up a sign apologizing for having to close several times due to the heart.
So while climate-change activists are busy trying to figure out how to get taxpayer funds into the coffers of foreign countries under the guise of assisting their adaptation to adverse weather conditions, we taxpayers have to suffer due to insufficient infrastructure.
And it's not just a French problem (nor is the problem limited to air conditioning). Maintaining adequate infrastructure is a challenge for much of the Western world. Some people count public housing as infrastructure, and a fire at London's Grenfell Tower housing complex that killed 79 people earlier this month became a tragedy of such magnitude due to years of neglect, according to residents. U.S. President Donald Trump, acutely aware of America's degrading infrastructure, has announced a $1 trillion plan to upgrade it.
Macron has criticized Trump for pulling out of the Paris agreement on combating climate change, but Trump is just choosing to cut through the nonsense. The Paris agreement is about laundering money, sending tax dollars from developed nations to multinational corporations via underdeveloped nations, all under the pretext of infrastructure upgrades to help poorer countries adapt to climate change. Trump is simply keeping taxpayer funds in America and using it to bolster domestic infrastructure and adaptability.
Macron would be wise to try making France great again before he tries to take on the rest of the planet, and Schwarzenegger would better serve the world by staying home and supporting a fellow Republican who's trying to prioritize the citizens of his own country over a globalist money-laundering scam.