Climate post

Lots of good takes.  Some of my favorites.

1) First, and most importantly, this is not actually about Trump.  This is about where the obscenely anti-science Republican Part is today.  President Rubio makes this call.  So does President Cruz.  Probably even President Kasich or President Jeb Bush.  This is just, sadly, where the party is.  Andrew Prokop:

The reality is that this isn’t just a story about Trump — it’s a story about the Republican Party and the conservative movement, which has adopted a rock-solid, widespread consensus in opposition to any serious action aimed at the US reducing carbon emissions. This has become a bedrock belief of the modern GOP.

While we can’t know if any other Republican president elected in 2016 would have for sure withdrawn from the Paris agreement, many institutional actors within the GOP and the conservative movement — from members of Congress (including the Senate majority leader) to think tanks to activist groups to media outlets to conservative donors (including many with fossil fuel wealth) — strongly support this move and have in fact been urging Trump to make it.

Furthermore, even leading Republicans who might have supported sticking to the Paris deal — it is, after all, nonbinding — would have likely supported an agenda of weakening environmental regulations and taken little if any action aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

The party simply does not believe climate change is a serious problem.

2) Bill McKibben lets loose:

It’s a stupid and reckless decision — our nation’s dumbest act since launching the war in Iraq. But it’s not stupid and reckless in the normal way. Instead, it amounts to a thorough repudiation of two of the civilizing forces on our planet: diplomacy and science. It undercuts our civilization’s chances of surviving global warming, but it also undercuts our civilization itself, since that civilization rests in large measure on those two forces…

Those changes, and similar ones agreed to by other nations, would not have ended global warming. They were too small. But the hope of Paris was that the treaty would send such a strong signal to the world’s governments, and its capital markets, that the targets would become a floor and not a ceiling; that shaken into action by the accord, we would start moving much faster toward renewable energy, maybe even fast enough to begin catching up with the physics of global warming. There are signs that this has been happening: The plummeting price of solar energy just this spring persuaded India to forgo a huge planned expansion of coal plants in favor of more solar panel arrays to catch the sun. China is shutting coal mines as fast as it can build wind turbines.

And that’s precisely the moment President Trump chose to make his move, a bid to undercut our best hope for a workable future in a bizarre attempt to restore the past.

3) Chait on how Trump’s relentless zero-sum worldview made this inevitable:

Trump was never going to support the Paris climate agreement because a collective-action problem is one of the concepts he is unable to grasp. Paris is built around ameliorating a problem affecting the entire world. Trump only understands zero-sum logic. His speech announcing his decision to exit the agreement fell back on the nationalistic rhetoric of denouncing foreign plunder.

The deal is “a massive redistribution of wealth from the U.S. to other countries,” he insisted. China “can do whatever they want for 13 years,” he insisted. The agreement “doesn’t eliminate coal jobs, it ships them out of the country,” to developing countries, which will get an “economic edge” over America…

China is canceling plans to build new coal plants, and its coal use has already begun to decline. Trump’s assertion that Paris does not impose any commitments upon China until 2030 is likewise false; the country has pledged a massive buildup of zero-emission energy and is following through. India is doing the same thing, and its coal industry is in free fall, in part because running existing coal plants there costs more money than building new solar ones. Meanwhile, coal plants have shut down in the United States not because of the Paris agreement but because other energy sources, especially but not exclusively natural gas, cost less to produce.

To call Trump’s speech a pack of lies is to grant him the probably undeserved compliment of assuming he knows better. The entire case was false — the facts, the logic, the understanding of what the agreement he opposes is even attempting to do.

4) Paul Waldman on Trump’s speech and how it sums up his presidency (and likewise shows his zero-sum worldview):

Trump sounded displeased that the agreement does not somehow play to the advantage of the United States in our competition with other countries; he even claimed that the real reason other countries entered into it was that they thought it would hobble the U.S. economy. But the agreement isn’t about gaining advantage, it’s about saving the planet. For everyone. Furthermore, the emissions targets in the agreement are voluntary. There’s no punishment if we don’t meet ours. So why drop out? Well, it would be a stick in Barack Obama’s eye, so there’s that. And of course, Trump’s obsession with who’s laughing at us (and him) came out: “We don’t want other countries laughing at us anymore.”

So in sum, Trump’s decision to back out of the Paris Agreement: 1) was presented as though it were a crappy reality show, 2) is based on bogus rationales, distortions, and outright lies, 3) supposedly will help Trump’s base get jobs, but will in fact harm their ability to do so, 4) harms America’s leadership in the world, 5) involved a paranoid rant about how everyone in the world is out to get us, and 6) was motivated in large part by the mindless impulse to do the opposite of whatever Obama did.

If that’s not the Trump presidency in a nutshell, what is? [emphasis mine]

5) John Cassidy raises similar points:

Trump didn’t mention these things, either. Instead, the Paris accord was described as the work of scheming foreigners, particularly the Europeans, and their domestic agents, the traitorous globalists. The agreement “handicaps the United States economy in order to win praise from the very foreign capitals and global activists that have long sought to gain wealth at our country’s expense,” Trump said. “The same nations asking us to stay in the agreement are the countries that have collectively cost America trillions of dollars through tough trade practices and, in many cases, lax contributions to our critical military alliance. You see what’s happening. It’s pretty obvious to those that want to keep an open mind.”

This was Trumpism in its full glory—the world as a conspiracy against its sole superpower, a country that accounts for a quarter of global G.D.P. and about forty per cent of global personal wealth. “At what point does America get demeaned?” Trump demanded, his voice rising. “At what point do they start laughing at us as a country?”

Like I started with, very sadly, it’s hard no to imagine any Republican president doing this.  That said, the whole thing is quite revealing of Trump’s super-pathological worldview.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to Climate post

  1. rgbact says:

    5 articles….and mostly just Trump hate, not much substance. I still have no clue what we actually pulled out of. We’ve kept up with most countries and never joined Kyoto either. Whats this obsession with feel good agreements?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: