President Trump and the Paris Accord
President Trump pulled us out of the Paris Accord, and the Trump haters and the uninformed reacted as if he were out to destroy the planet. I say, his critics are overreacting. Mr. Trump’s action does not mean he is indifferent to the future of the planet as some Trump haters and pundits have postulated. Everybody take a deep breath and repeat after me. His action was not about climate change; it was about the economy! Half of you probably think I’m way off base, but read on, and I’ll demonstrate why the president’s decision was beneficial to the US, especially in the long run and will have a minimal impact on climate. Remember, he ran (and was elected) on “putting America first,” and, to quote former president Obama, “elections have consequences.” So, as you read this, please take the politics and emotion out of it and use some logic and common sense, (which, as we all know, is not “common).”
- The science surrounding the global warming/ climate change issue can be complicated, confusing and even a bit contradictory. Global warming is the increase in the earth’s average surface temperature due to emissions of greenhouse gases, such as CO2 from fossil fuels or deforestation. According to NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (“NOAA”) the earth’s average temperature increased an average of only 1.53 degrees Fahrenheit from 1880 to 2012.
- Many people point to daily or annual warmer weather as evidence of “climate change,” but that is inaccurate and misleading. Climate and weather are two different things. Weather is day to day; climate is weather conditions that prevail over a long period of time – thousands of years or more. Thus, year to year phenomena, such as El Nino, do not constitute climate change.
- Although human activities, such as the emissions of fossil fuels can affect climate change, there are other external causes, such as biotic processes (e.g. effect of the melting of the polar icecaps on the ecosystem), solar radiation, plate tectonics and volcanic eruptions. Throughout the earth’s 4.5 billion year history its climate has varied widely from time to time, for example, before, during and after the various ice ages. However, according to Wikipedia, through the science of paleoclimatology (the study of ancient temperatures) scientists have determined that over the last 10,000 years the earth’s average temperature has exhibited minimal variance from the mean. Moreover, again according to Wikipedia, although 16 of the warmest years on record have occurred in the last 17 years and 2016 was the warmest on record the average global temperature has only increased .13 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since 1880. Is that cause for alarm? I guess that’s up to each person to decide. In my opinion, there is cause for some concern, but I don’t view the situation to be as dire as Al Gore and some others have postulated. I think we would be better off focusing our attention on other issues, such as global terrorism, jobs, the economy and border security, to name a few.
- The stated goal of the accord is to prevent the earth’s average temperature from rising 1.6 degrees. That is what all the fuss is about – 1.6 degrees.
- Each signatory is required to submit voluntary goals for reducing emissions. That’s right, VOLUNTARY. They are to be reported every five years to the UNFCCC Secretariat. Provisions for monitoring compliance are weak, however, and will likely be largely ineffectual. Moreover, there are no penalties for failure to meet one’s goals. The UN assistant secretary general for climate change, Janos Pasztor, has labeled this a “name and encourage” plan. I call it worthless. Can you imagine these goals being enforced? Who would do it, and by what mechanism?
- Even some of the accord’s staunchest supporters think it does not go far enough. Former President Obama opined “even if we meet every target….we will only get to part of where we need to go.”
- The US and other “developed” countries are required to contribute $100 billion per year to “undeveloped” countries to assist them in attaining their goals starting in 2020 for a period of six years. Obama pledged $3 billion, of which the US has contributed $500 million so far. What is the likelihood of other “developed” nations “ponying up” their share? So, once again, the US will be “footing the bill.”
- The adverse effects on the US economy would be considerable, to wit:
a. According to the National Economic Research Associates consulting group the accord will result in the loss of 440,000 manufacturing jobs in the US. The coal, iron and steel industries would be particularly decimated.
b. According to Christine Harbin of the Washington Examiner most of the lost output and jobs in these and other manufacturing industries would be transferred to other countries, such as China and India. Thus, in essence, the US would be subsidizing the economies of these and other countries. President Trump has derided this as a “massive redistribution of US wealth to other countries,” and I am inclined to agree. Additional government regulations required to enforce this accord would constitute a further drag on business and industry.
d. Energy prices would likely increase, making it costlier to heat one’s home and run one’s car. In addition, businesses would likely pass on their increased energy costs to the consumer.
Under this plan:
- We will not be able to evaluate its effectiveness and member compliance for five years.
- We will not be able to compel participants to meet their voluntary goals.
- The plan’s goals, even if met, will be inadequate.
- The US will be “footing the bill.”
I fail to see how the US would benefit from this accord. Our emission standards are among the highest of any industrialized nation, and we are fully capable of policing ourselves. As I see it, the primary results would be (a) we shell out billions of dollars annually to fund other countries’ compliance programs, (b) we put ourselves at a competitive disadvantage vis a vis other countries, (c) we eliminate thousands of blue collar jobs, and (d) we significantly weaken our economy.
So, tell me, do you still think this was a good deal for the US? Once one removes politics and emotion from the equation and analyzes the deal and its ramifications, it becomes apparent that President Trump made the right call. I don’t know about you, but I think we could find better use for the $3 billion per year within the US. With a $20 trillion deficit our financial resources, though substantial, are not unlimited.
I welcome your thoughts and opinions.