Donald Trump’s disastrous decision to exit the Paris Climate Agreement is perhaps one of the dumbest decisions made by a U.S. president—probably since Trump’s attempted Muslim travel ban that’s, well, still happening.
The reasons Trump gives for leaving sound just like the excuses a child gives when they forgot to do their homework “my dog ate it, and it’s the dog’s fault for being in the house, and it’s my mom’s fault for not feeding the dog, and it’s Hillary Clinton’s fault for not telling my mom!”
His reasons are lies.
Trump can claim it’s a “bad deal” for Americans or will cost jobs or benefit China or whatever Bannon or Kushner or Putin whispers into his ear before his speech, but actual Americans—not the selective sample of Trumpsters—disagree. Polls show that seven out of ten Americans support staying in the Paris agreement. Considering the ridiculous division in this country, I’m pretty sure you couldn’t get seven out of ten Americans to agree that “car” is a three-letter word.
Most staggering, though, is not necessarily that Trump left the agreement, in defiance of most Americans, but it’s the bullshit reasons he gave.
“Believe me, we have massive legal liability if we stay in.”
Among the nonsense spewed why the U.S. should pull out of the Paris agreement, Trump boldly claimed that the U.S. would be exposed to “massive legal liability if we stay in,” which is odd because there is no liability mechanism in the Paris Agreement.
“The risks grow as historically these agreements only tend to become more and more ambitious over time. In other words, the Paris framework is just a starting point, as bad as it is, not an end point. And exiting the agreement protects the United States from future intrusions on the United States sovereignty and massive future legal liability. Believe me, we have massive legal liability if we stay in.”
Ah, yes, “United States sovereignty and the massive future legal liability,” just the buzzwords to amp up nationalists. Ironically enough, there is no liability mechanism under the Paris Agreement. Why exactly? The U.S. negotiated there not be.
At a press conference in Paris on Dec. 2, 2015, Todd Stern the U.S. special envoy for climate change, stated that the U.S. has “made it clear that we are not at all supportive of and would not accept the notion of liability and compensation being part of that.”
Thus, it wasn’t included.
Conversely, exiting the agreement, in violation of international law, will open up the U.S. to “massive future legal liability” by other countries.
An exit like this welcomes a lawsuit from Canada—or any other nation fucked by U.S. climate behavior, which actually is a massive legal liability.
“The cost to the economy at this time would be close to $3 trillion in lost GDP and 6.5 million industrial jobs, while households would have $7,000 less income and, in many cases, much worse than that.”
It’s a damn shame Trump doesn’t have sources to back up these claims.
The “$3 trillion loss in GDP,” while unsubstantiated, seems to reference a conclusion drawn from a report by the National Economic Research Associates Economic Consulting (NERA). While a $3 trillion loss is certainly a lot, that number’s actually an accumulation to the year 2040—a year in which he will more than likely be dead and the U.S. will need a climate agreement, especially because New Orleans will actually be the Gulf of Mexico. This massive loss, according to the study, is also a conclusion to one, single scenario—the worst case scenario—presented by NERA. For example, in one other scenario presented in the exact same study, the loss in GDP would be a mere 2.2 percent.
That’s like saying, somebody stole your house when, really, they took a pen.
Trump’s analysis that this agreement will stymie the economy and lose American jobs is also astoundingly incorrect. All signs suggest that investing in green energy” technologies will jumpstart the economy. A recent report from the International Renewable Energy Agency noted that employment in the solar industry expanded 17 times as fast as the U.S. economy in 2016, and this will only continue to expand. Furthermore, there are twice as many jobs in solar than there are in coal. Just a reminder, the entire “coal industry” is literally smaller than America’s “bowling industry,” meaning there are probably more people like The Dude than those in the shafts.
Investing in the Paris Agreement will, in all likelihood, benefit the American people, not burden.
“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
No, you weren’t. “The city of Pittsburgh voted for Hillary Clinton with nearly 80 percent of the vote,” said Pittsburgh’s own fucking mayor.
Concerning money contributed to the Green Climate Fund, “Nobody even knows where the money is going to. Nobody has been able to say, where is it going to?”
Actually, the Green Climate Fund’s website outlines every fucking project that has been funded.
“Even if the Paris Agreement were implemented in full, with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree—think of that, this much — Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100. Tiny, tiny amount.”
As expected from Trump, those numbers are off.
Yes, global temperatures will rise, and there’s no scenario in which temperatures won’t rise. But under Trump’s “business as usual, let’s blow up some fucking mountains” scenario, temperatures are expected to increase 4.2 degrees Celsius (7.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, according to an analysis about the U.S. role in the Paris Agreement conducted by Climate Interactive. If the U.S. were to continue its pledge to Paris, that average global surface temperature in 2100 only raises 3.3 degrees Celsius. Nine-tenths of one degree may not seem like much compared to the two-tenths of one degree purported by Trump, but it does.
To put that number, nine-tenths of one degree, in perspective, NASA data indicates global temperatures have risen 0.99 degrees Celsius (1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) since the industrial revolution. Thanks to industrialization and its environmental effects, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish have been dying 72 times faster than “normal” since 1900. During this time frame, researchers might have expected nine vertebrae species to go extinct; instead, 468 did. This will only get worse. A paper published by ecologist Mark Urban of the University of Connecticut says that, because of climate change, 16 percent of all known species will soon go extinct.
That ain’t normal.
If you think that’s disastrous, just wait until the droughts, says Carl-Friedrich Schleussner of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. His paper last year “Accelerating extinction risk from climate change” reported that an extra half-degree—not even a full degree—would produce dry spells across the globe, including the Mediterranean, Central American, Amazon, and southern Africa.
Of course, drought may not be a problem when Miami may already be underwater.
Trump’s lies didn’t stop here, of course. He went on to say, “14 days of carbon emissions from China alone would wipe out the gains from America—and this is an incredible statistic—would totally wipe out the gains from America’s expected reductions in the year 2030.”
Perhaps Trump for that the United States, already, pollutes more per capita than both China and India (the world’s two biggest polluters), and the U.S. is responsible for 29 percent of all human CO2 emissions over the past 150 years, triple China’s share. But, yeah, keep blaming China for our country’s faults.
In fact, let’s blame climate change, the Paris Agreement, the air pollution, the water pollution (and lead in Flint’s water), the “crazy weather for June” on everybody but ourselves. It’s easier that way.
Top photo by Flickr, CC0
Tom Burson is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? but with more sunscreen and jorts.