President Trump has withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreement. I will say at the outset that I support this move. Let’s settle the “legal” issues first. The agreement was not a treaty, and was not ratified by the Senate. It might be classified as an executive agreement or as a simple presidential agreement. The courts have never held an agreement other than a treaty as binding in an attempt to leave that agreement. That should settle that–unless of course some opponents find a friendly District judge to reverse Trump, temporarily.
Now to the substance of the agreement. In essence, from the start, this agreement was an attempt on the part of other nations to get the United States to accept much of the blame for any alleged man-caused climate change and then to engage in a redistribution of resources and income by imposing draconian regulations on American industry. The result would be that American industry would be rendered much less competitive, if that. Most of the rest of the world gets off scot-free. So we are handicapped for an unproven idea.
How do we assess this? It is predicated on the assumption that man-caused climate change is the apocalyptic problem it is made out to be, mainly by non-scientists and not by many of those who actually study it. The latter’s conclusions generally are much more moderated regarding the extent of change as well as the cause. But the former have been using the alleged “unanimous evidence” (false) to engage in their own favorite ideological campaigns, including anti-capitalism (a favorite). These include movie stars, artists, politicians and media, and, interestingly, but not surprisingly, some large businesses, in short, the cultural elite–not the average person who wants to work hard and achieve some dignity in life. In fact, when asked to rate problems from most important to least, the vast majority of average income earners do not rate climate change very high at all, if it even makes the list in some surveys.
Second, even if we show that climate change is man-caused, what is the extent of that problem. Is it a problem at all? Available evidence indicates that the rise in temperatures is not at all what has been alleged by models. In other words, empirical evidence is trumping theory–as it should, even if it proves “inconvenient.” And if temperatures are rising, (1) is the rise harmful? and (2) could temperature increases actually be beneficial?
Third, the United States has reduced its levels of pollution considerably since the establishment of the EPA in 1970, and even before, we saw reductions beginning. Are we to believe that we are still a major problem? One might logically expect climate change to have declined, if it existed before. But climate advocates seem to think we live in more dire times than previously. Now to be sure, it is said (and figures do tend to support this) that the US is the second largest carbon producer in the world, next to China. But that just puts us back to the question: so what? Is it incontrovertible that this production level is really a problem? Moreover, even without an EPA or Paris Agreement, we have been cleaning up our own environment simply on account of market demand.
Fifth, the reductions called for would take any economy back to an era that approximates the nineteenth century, at least the early twentieth, possibly worse, depending on the magnitude of regulations. And some advocates of climate change want massively radical regulations that would place many in abject poverty. Economically, we would be stifled. Both other nations and we would be harmed in this way. Is it a good to allow people to be unable to pursue their life plans when the evidence for the existence, extent and causes of any climate change are unsettled? Why is it ignored by proponents of the Agreement or by environmental advocates generally that entire economic well-being of societies would be jeopardized. Everything would cost more, if it were even available. Thus, ability to purchase basic economic goods and the available supply would cause real harm. Whom does this cost harm the most: the poor. Do we want to make them worse off for an unknown.
Now before someone criticizes me for leaving out “facts,” I refer them to several previous blogs where I presented ample empirical evidence countering standard climate change models and the conclusions drawn from them. Moreover others may accuse me of lack of compassion for those affected by climate change and for not adopting the stewardship approach based in Genesis 1. Let me quickly address each of those:
- See data presented in previous blogs regarding counter-evidence on actual climate change data, as well as pollution levels.
- I value compassion, but the alleged compassion of climate change advocates must be weighed against the compassion of those who want real people to live and flourish,
- The stewardship of this earth given to us includes the mandate to make it better than it was when each of us was born. That really is about being free, creative and productive for the ultimate benefit of everyone. Real stewardship is not stunting growth for the sake of unsettled science and ideologically driven conclusions. It does not mean radical policies to reduce population and regulate certain industries out of business. Nor does it mean going back to life as it was long ago, a semi-primitive existence. It is not undermining the economic flourishing of this nation or any other nation for uncertainties. If we don’t thrive, then other nations won’t either. For us it would mean severe deprivation. For less wealthy nations it could mean disaster.
- Finally, of course I believe a certain level of environmental protection is a good, a public good. The question is always how much? We need rational inquiry to continue, but we do not need the kind of wildly apocalyptic rhetoric I see too much of from climate change advocates.
To end, this post is more than a little polemical I would say. It is in essence a editorial piece. I claim sole responsibility for it. But the stakes are very high.
- Title of World War I era song referring to “country bumpkins” in the US Army visiting cosmopolitan Paris. “Bumpkins” represent “middle America,” “Paris” represents elites.