Thursday, June 1, 2017

My take on President Trump backing out of the Paris climate accord.

President Donald Trump's official presidential picture.

As you are probably aware the United States has officially pulled out of the Paris climate agreement. The agreement would set carbon emissions goals for every country and, more importantly, would require richer countries to help poorer countries develop cleaner energy. 

Trump pulled out of the agreement. Why? I think there are quite a few reasons. First of all, Donald Trump has never been on board with the Global Warming argument. He thinks it's misguided at best and a scam at worst. He does have some advisers that believe in it, but I doubt that he himself does. 

Second, it is obvious that the accord would have hurt American jobs and businesses. Agreeing to the accord would have greatly increased the red tape involved in starting and running businesses and would likely kill the already damaged coal and oil industries. In addition to the job loss we would have had to spend billions on giving aid to 3rd world countries, adding to our debt. These are major economic issues that would hurt us much more than it would hurt other countries. 

Third, I am guessing that this was a negotiation tactic. Trump is, above all else, a businessman. He was never going to stay into an accord that hurts his country without concessions from the other countries to make it worth it. His first foreign trip was all about gathering those concessions, especially concerning NATO spending requirements. He wants something to show for it if he is going to agree to something his voters hate and if he doesn't get enough he is willing to walk away.

Trump will likely pay a heavy short term political price for this move. The media, biased to the point of shrillness during the best of times in the Trump administration, have lost any pretense of fairness on this issue. Global warming is an almost religious belief for the left and doing anything even remotely critical of it is enough to throw them into a frenzy. It's the equivalent of someone drawing Muhammad or saying that Christ wasn't real. It's not a rational reaction all, it's entirely emotional. Trump will face heat from the media, celebrities and left wing politicians globally. 

Long term though, I think this move will help Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Why? Well remember Hillary Clinton's "Blue Wall" states? States like Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky were hurt and hurt badly by the attacks on industry by global warming advocates and the Paris climate accord would do even further damage. Whatever the media is saying, pulling out will help Trump with his new "Red Wall" states. 

I also have to note something absolutely critical that the media isn't covering. Donald Trump has left the door open for renegotiating the Paris Climate agreement. Several European countries have said that they won't do so, but that is just the knee jerk initial reaction. Everyone freaking out about this needs to understand that Trump hasn't walked away completely. If the other countries give enough concessions or give the United States better terms in the agreement, they could easily get Trump on their side. Or convince him to take action on climate change outside the framework of the Paris agreement. They just have to be willing to pay the price.

The fact that they aren't is a strong indication that the world leadership doesn't actually believe that global warming is an existential threat. If they really thought that global warming was the end of the human species they would do anything to get Trump on board. In my view they haven't offered him anything at all, though I am not privy to the discussions between our government and others. Still, if they really believed that global warming was the end of all things, they would have tried harder. 

I think that most people in power think that global warming is real and that it will have bad consequences but they are aware that it's not anywhere near as bad as media outlets are saying it will be. I also think they think fighting global warming's main benefit is virtue signalling. Which is also the main thing that is happening today. 

What's my take on global warming? Complicated. I'm going to take it claim by claim with my beliefs in brackets. This is just the quick and sloppy version, don't expect citations or details:

-Humans have an effect on our environment (undeniable)
-Global temperatures are rising (I think the evidence for this is very strong, though the evidence for it continuing long term is less so, but still convincing)
-Humans are the main cause of the temperature increase (far too strong of a claim for me based on the evidence. I am willing to concede that we are a major factor)
-This increase of temperature will have negative effects (sure, change always hurts some people)
-There aren't any benefits of temperature increase (totally false. Just off the top of my head, higher temps would open up lands in northern Canada and Russia for human colonization)
-Global warming is an existential threat to the survival of humanity (completely false. Even the worse case scenarios are survivable even with today's technology. Given time and better tech it might not even be an issue)
-We can do something about climate change (There are a few things we could do, like greatly expanding nuclear power. The fact that we haven't shows that people like to say that global warming is a threat but don't actually believe it)
-Doing something about climate change won't have negative effects (STRONGLY DISAGREE. I think that doing something about climate change is much more likely to cause human extinction than almost any other threat. Doing so could quite predictably overshoot and put us into a global cooling cycle. We can much easier survive warmer temperatures. But a new ice age? Existential threat. Plus the environment is unstable enough that an asteroid impact or increase in volcanism could render our efforts completely moot and pointless )
-Fighting climate change is the only environmental issue worth fighting for. (my biggest problem with global warming is how much it distracts from actual environmental issues. Things like overfishing, traditional pollution and strengthening our crops to survive climate changes).

I generally think that global warming is somewhat real and could have negative effects (the "lukewarmer" position). But those negative effects aren't worth destroying our economy and spending billions of dollars on third world countries with very little likely return in investment. I do think we should invest in new energy technology, but not because of global warming. We have to do so at some point anyways so we should do it now. Given what I believe, I do support Donald Trump's action to pull out of the Paris accord but I also hope that we do eventually get new technology that puts this whole stupid debate to rest. 

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