So yesterday President Trump announced that the US will withdraw from the Paris crusade against fossil fuels. Effective immediately his administration will cease implementation of any aspects of the Accord and suspend compliance with any of its regulations or obligations.
His speech did not take issue with the scientific claims of global warming. Rather Trump’s position is based on the small projected benefits from the hugely expensive program, and the unfair burden placed on the US compared with other nations. As noted here before, the climatist case is a three-legged stool:
- Humans are warming the climate.
- The warming is dangerous.
- Government can stop it.
The third point is about climate policy and is even weaker than the science beneath the first two. The programs currently advocated are woefully inadequate even if you believe the scientific house of cards. After the US announcement yesterday, Mike Hulme weighed in (here) with a balanced reaction from his POV as one who thinks global warming could become a future problem.
Overstating the significance of Trump’s announcement also mis-reads the nature of the Paris Agreement and its efficacy in ‘governing’ the world’s climate. The Paris Agreement is already a voluntary arrangement of self-determined and self-policed intentions to reduce greenhouses gas emissions from different national jurisdictions. There are no penalties, no sanctions for states which fail to meet their Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC).
Even if, following Trump’s announcement, the USA now fails to secure its own INDC – and this if far from certain for reasons below – the projections of how this might alter the average global temperature by 2100 reveal the sleight of hand. Projections suggest a warming of about 3.6°C (without the USA in Paris) rather than 3.3°C (with the USA in Paris), a reduction of just 0.3°C and well-within the random noise in the system. The fact is, all the INDCs declared by nations leave the world well short of the declared goal of 2 degrees of warming, let alone the aspirational target of 1.5°C.
We should not fall for the hype of defenders of the Paris Agreement and its own self-pronounced historic status. Neither therefore should we despairingly denounce Trump for declaring he will remove the USA from the Agreement. Such reactions give too much weight to the actions of one man to shape the world and they place too much faith in the Paris Agreement to effect change in societies around the world.
This is not a defeatist position to hold. And I am certainly no defender of Donald Trump. It is rather a position that recognises the limited powers that Trump holds over his own economy and the limited effectiveness of any single global treaty to “govern” the world’s climate. What matters far more are the thousand and one sites around the world where change is taking place, the thousands of different political actors, social movements and loci of innovation and change which are shaping the trajectory of future world development.
Building the climate science house of cards is described in the post Climate Reductionism
Background from Yesterday’s Post:
The rational for rejecting the UNFCCC and the Paris Accord is expressed clearly and concisely by the French Mathematical Modelling Company following their exhaustive study. Title is link to their document, the executive summary is presented below.
The crusade is absurd
There is not a single fact, figure or observation that leads us to conclude that the world‘s climate is in any way “disturbed”. It is variable, as it has always been, but rather less so now than during certain periods or geological eras. Modern methods are far from being able to accurately measure the planet‘s global temperature even today, so measurements made 50 or 100 years ago are even less reliable.
Concentrations of CO2 vary, as they always have done; the figures that are being released are biased and dishonest. Rising sea levels are a normal phenomenon linked to upthrust buoyancy; they are nothing to do with so-called global warming. As for extreme weather events – they are no more frequent now than they have been in the past. We ourselves have processed the raw data on hurricanes.
We are being told that “a temperature increase of more than 2ºC by comparison with the beginning of the industrial age would have dramatic consequences, and absolutely has to be prevented”. When they hear this, people worry: hasn‘t there already been an increase of 1.9ºC? Actually, no: the figures for the period 1995-2015 show an upward trend of about 1ºC every hundred years! Of course, these figures, which contradict public policies, are never brought to public attention.
The crusade is costly
Direct aid for industries that are completely unviable (such as photovoltaics and wind turbines) but presented as “virtuous” runs into billions of euros, according to recent reports published by the Cour des Comptes (French Audit Office) in 2013. But the highest cost lies in the principle of “energy saving”, which is presented as especially virtuous. Since no civilization can develop when it is saving energy, ours has stopped developing: France now has more than three million people unemployed – it is the price we have to pay for our virtue.
We want to cut our CO2 emissions at any cost: it is a way of displaying our virtue for all to see. To achieve these reductions, we have significantly cut industrial activity and lost jobs. But at least we have achieved our aim of cutting CO2 emissions, haven‘t we? The answer is laughable: apparently not. Global emissions of CO2 have continued to rise, including those generated by France in designing and manufacturing its own products, as the Cour des Comptes clearly states. Quite simply, manufacturing that is held to be environmentally damaging has been relocated. So the same products are now being manufactured in countries that are far less respectful of the environment, and we have lost all the associated jobs. As Baudelaire says, “Nature‘s irony combines with our insanity”.
The crusade is pointless
Human beings cannot, in any event, change the climate. If we in France were to stop all industrial activity (let‘s not talk about our intellectual activity, which ceased long ago), if we were to eradicate all trace of animal life, the composition of the atmosphere would not alter in any measurable, perceptible way. To explain this, let us make a comparison with the rotation of the planet: it is slowing down. To address that, we might be tempted to ask the entire population of China to run in an easterly direction. But, no matter how big China and its population are, this would have no measurable impact on the Earth‘s rotation.
French policy on CO2 emissions is particularly stupid, since we are one of the countries with the cleanest industrial sector.
This just goes to show the truth of the matter: we are fighting for a cause (reducing CO2 emissions) that serves absolutely no purpose, in which we alone believe, and which we can do nothing about. You would probably have to go quite a long way back in human history to find such a mad obsession.