By Ken Haapala, President, The Science and Environmental Policy Project
Brought to You by www.SEPP.org
Destroying the Planet? President Trump did the unthinkable for many – he announced that the US will withdraw from the Paris Agreement (Accords). The reaction of the horrified was predictable. How dare he? A bit of history is useful in explaining the reaction.
During World War I, Germany, France, the U.K. the U.S., and others effectively used propaganda on their citizens to build sprit (morale) and reinforce the need for the War, including demeaning their opponents. (The U.S. had the U.S. Committee on Public Information under Walter Lippmann.) The effectiveness of the propaganda can be seen by the failure of many responsible and reasonable Germans to accept the fact that the German military had collapsed. Instead, these Germans became susceptible to claims that they had been betrayed, “sold-out.” Hitler used this “betrayal” effectively against the Jews.
For decades, Washington, and many in the West, have been inundated by propaganda that human greenhouse gas emissions, namely carbon dioxide (CO2), are the principle cause of dangerous global warming / climate change, without any compelling physical evidence supporting the claim. The Supreme Court even ruled that CO2, vital for life as we generally recognize it, is a pollutant that the EPA can regulate if it deems CO2, and other greenhouse gases, endanger human health and welfare.
The effectiveness of this propaganda can be seen by the reaction to Mr. Trump’s announcement that his administration is pulling out of the Paris Agreement. One is tempted to call it “shock and awe.” The lack of hard evidence that that Paris Agreement will do anything meaningful is scarcely mentioned.
On the website WUWT, Anthony Watts repeated the graph by Bjorn Lomborg projecting the difference by the year 2100 of a) doing nothing, b) completing the promises under Paris by 2030, and c) continuing all the promises under Paris from 2030 to 2100. Completing the promises by 2030 will reduce projected surface temperatures in 2100 by 0.05 degrees C; continuing the promises will reduce projected temperatures in 2100 by 0.17 degrees C.
Given that the projections are for about 85 years, the results are meaningless. Given that none of the climate models used to make such projections have been validated, the results are absurd. Given that many of the instruments used, such as the ones at US airports, have a specified internal accuracy of plus or minus 1 degree C, the projections are ludicrous. [Note, if repeated measurements are made in the same manner and by using the same instrument, and assuming errors are normally distributed, the error declines by a function of the square root of the number of measurements. But, this logic does not apply for measurements from numerous instruments of the same type, much less for measurements from numerous types of instruments.]
In short, we are witnessing outrage expressed over a political decision by those whose scientific position is ludicrous. They have succumbed to a propaganda worthy of that of World War I. See links under After Paris, Change in US Administrations – Favor, and Change in US Administrations – Opposed.
Quote of the Week. “I don’t see a whole lot of difference between the consensus on climate change and the consensus on witches. At the witch trials in Salem the judges were educated at Harvard. This was supposedly 100 per cent science. The one or two people who said there were no witches were immediately hung. Not much has changed.” Princeton Professor Emeritus of Physics William Happer
What Did Trump Say? Lost in the outrage are some significant positions Trump established for his administration including emphasis on national sovereignty, economic growth, and development of US natural resources.
Near the end of the speech, Mr. Trump asserts his concern about national sovereignty:
“There are serious legal and constitutional issues as well. Foreign leaders in Europe, Asia, and across the world should not have more to say with respect to the U.S. economy than our own citizens and their elected representatives. Thus, our withdrawal from the agreement represents a reassertion of America’s sovereignty. Our Constitution is unique among all the nations of the world, and it is my highest obligation and greatest honor to protect it. And I will.”
Frequently in the speech Trump emphasizes the economic disadvantages to the US for staying in the Paris Agreement. For example:
“As President, I can put no other consideration before the wellbeing of American citizens. The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers — who I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production.
“Thus, as of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country. This includes ending the implementation of the nationally determined contribution and, very importantly, the Green Climate Fund which is costing the United States a vast fortune.
“Compliance with the terms of the Paris Accord and the onerous energy restrictions it has placed on the United States could cost America as much as 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025 according to the National Economic Research Associates. This includes 440,000 fewer manufacturing jobs — not what we need — believe me, this is not what we need — including automobile jobs, and the further decimation of vital American industries on which countless communities rely. They rely [on us?] for so much, and we would be giving them so little.
“According to this same study, by 2040, compliance with the commitments put into place by the previous administration would cut production for the following sectors: paper down 12 percent; cement down 23 percent; iron and steel down 38 percent; coal — and I happen to love the coal miners — down 86 percent; natural gas down 31 percent. 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.”
Further, Trump emphasizes the importance of developing US energy resources:
“Staying in the agreement could also pose serious obstacles for the United States as we begin the process of unlocking the restrictions on America’s abundant energy reserves, which we have started very strongly. It would once have been unthinkable that an international agreement could prevent the United States from conducting its own domestic economic affairs, but this is the new reality we face if we do not leave the agreement or if we do not negotiate a far better deal.”
He devotes considerable time discussing Green Climate Fund called for in the Paris Agreement:
“Beyond the severe energy restrictions inflicted by the Paris Accord, it includes yet another scheme to redistribute wealth out of the United States through the so-called Green Climate Fund — nice name — which calls for developed countries to send $100 billion to developing countries all on top of America’s existing and massive foreign aid payments. So we’re going to be paying billions and billions and billions of dollars, and we’re already way ahead of anybody else. Many of the other countries haven’t spent anything, and many of them will never pay one dime.
“The Green Fund would likely obligate the United States to commit potentially tens of billions of dollars of which the United States has already handed over $1 billion — nobody else is even close; most of them haven’t even paid anything — including funds raided out of America’s budget for the war against terrorism. That’s where they came. Believe me, they didn’t come from me. They came just before I came into office. Not good. And not good the way they took the money.
“In 2015, the United Nation’s departing top climate officials reportedly described the $100 billion per year as “peanuts,” and stated that “the $100 billion is the tail that wags the dog.” In 2015, the Green Climate Fund’s executive director reportedly stated that estimated funding needed would increase to $450 billion per year after 2020. And nobody even knows where the money is going to. Nobody has been able to say, where is it going to?”
One should note that Trump did not call for withdrawing from the process of negotiation, or for abandoning the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Instead, he called for negotiating another agreement or significantly changing the Paris Agreement. As discussed in Article # 1, this path may be lengthy. More lengthy and difficult than simply rejecting the UNFCCC because the conditions of the Senate approval of the treaty have not been met. However, the position is consistent with the recommendations of many senior Republican Senators.
A student of American History may find similarities in the Trump speech to part of the George Washington’s Farewell Address of avoiding foreign entanglements, but honoring commitments already made. By calling the Paris Accord a non-binding executive agreement to avoid submitting it to the Senate for ratification, President Obama committed only his administration, not the nation, to the Paris Accord. And this is how the game is played. See Article # 1 and links under After Paris! Change in US Administrations and http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp
World Bank Weighs In: Economists Joseph Stiglitz, Columbia University, New York and Nicholas Stern, Grantham Research Institute, London, co-chaired a report by the World Bank calling for a world-wide carbon tax of $50 to $100 per ton of carbon dioxide to save the world from global warming. If implemented, the tax may raise about $4 trillion. Of course, it would be revenue neutral, distributed back. All too often, these international schemes do not distinguish between paying governments or paying those individuals who pay the burden of the tax.
Mr. Stern is best known for the 2006 Stern report which was influential in persuading the Parliament of the UK to pass the Climate Change Act of 2008. In it, Stern used an unrealistic discount rate of 1% to claim that early action on climate change outweighs the costs. A low discount inflates the current value of future costs (assuming they can be estimated). A more realistic discount rate of 7% would have totally changed the conclusions of the report. Thanks to the ill-advised Climate Change Act, the citizens of the UK are facing ever increasing energy bills, with the poor and those on fixed incomes suffering, particularly in winter.
The headquarters of the World Bank is a short walk from the White House. Will the economists who performed this study be frequent visitors? See links under Defending the Orthodoxy.
The Crude Moves: In 2016, the 1,170 mile Dakota Access pipeline became a bitter controversy with the Obama administration throwing up obstacles, and finally preventing the pipeline from completing its construction by drilling underneath the Missouri River in an existing easement. After the Trump Administration granted the necessary permit, in little over 4 months, oil is flowing in the pipeline from North Dakota to a storage hub in Illinois. See link under Washington’s Control of Energy
Number of the Week: 95,894 pages in 2016. Proposed and implemented new regulations are published in the US Federal Register. According to Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute the 2016 Federal Register broke all records with 95,894 pages, exceeding the 2015 mark by 19%. Is this what is meant by transparency in government? Also, Mr. Crews estimates Americans spent $1.9 trillion in 2016 just to comply with federal regulations See Article # 3.
1. Leaving Paris Climate Accord Takes Time
Trump can’t get the U.S. out of climate deal until 2020
By William Mauldin, WSJ, June 1, 2017
SUMMARY: According to the journalist, the process to leave the Paris Agreement is likely to unfold the following way:
“• According to the Paris agreement, countries can only exit three years after the effective date of the deal. That was Nov. 4, 2016, 30 days after a sufficient number of countries ratified the deal, which was reached in Paris in December 2015.
“• The Paris climate accord was reached as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, which took effect in 1994 and includes 197 countries, including the U.S. The convention was ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1992 under former President George H.W. Bush. If Mr. Trump had taken the “nuclear option” and withdrawn from the UNFCCC, he could have taken the U.S. out of the Paris agreement in a year.
“• Starting in November 2019, Mr. Trump could send a written request to exit the Paris accord. The backers of the deal built in a delay in part to allow a global shift in climate politics to dissuade governments from exiting. The U.S. president could also change his mind by late 2019, just as the 2020 presidential campaign heats up.
“• After the UNFCCC receives Mr. Trump’s request, the U.S. will be out of the Paris agreement after one year, or as early as November 2020.
“• The real result of Mr. Trump’s move would only be apparent in 2025, when the targets of the Paris agreement become effective. The nonbinding U.S. target was to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels. U.S. emissions in 2025 will depend on what Mr. Trump and other officials and courts do with domestic regulations governing coal power plants and vehicle efficiency.
“• Environmental groups say the Paris agreement was designed to be durable, and a future U.S. administration could get Washington back into the pact, assuming the U.S. stays in the underlying UNFCCC.
“• Mr. Trump said Thursday the U.S. could renegotiate the Paris agreement or enter under new terms. But experts say such a process would be difficult, since nearly all nations agreed on the deal in 2015, and leading economies have said they would continue with the original deal if the U.S. leaves.
2. The News You Didn’t Hear
Reporters only want to talk about Russia, instead of what Team Trump is getting done.
By Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, June 1, 2017
SUMMARY: Some of the news that did not become widely-known includes:
“• Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed an order to begin reopening Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve to oil and gas exploration, reversing the Obama administration’s ideologically driven 2013 shutdown. The order even aims at opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to production—a move that is decades overdue. This could not only buck up the listless Alaskan economy but cement the U.S. as an oil and gas powerhouse.
“• The Fish and Wildlife Service took steps that may stop the Obama administration’s last-minute endangered-species listing for the Texas Hornshell, a freshwater mussel. That listing, based on outdated science, threatens significant harm to the Texas economy and was done over the protest of state officials and local industry.
“• Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross surprisingly said that he was open to completing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, a far-reaching trade agreement being negotiated with the European Union.”
3. The $600 Billion Man
A new report highlights one cost of the Obama legacy.
By James Freeman, WSJ, May 31, 2017
SUMMARY: “As if taxes haven’t been high enough, the U.S. Government also forced Americans to spend an eye-watering $1.9 trillion in 2016 just to comply with federal regulations. That’s according to the latest annual “10,000 Commandments” report released today by Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. ‘If it were a country, U.S. regulation would be the world’s seventh-largest economy, ranking behind India and ahead of Italy,’ notes Mr. Crews. He adds that our regulatory tab is nearly as large as the total pretax profits of corporations.
“Mr. Crews has become one of the most hated men in Washington by tabulating the hidden costs—those not counted in the roughly $4 trillion of direct federal spending—that politicians and bureaucrats impose on the American economy. And nobody imposed more than Barack Obama. According to the Crews annual scorecards, the yearly cost of federal regulation soared by more than $700 billion in nominal dollars from 2008, the last full year of the Bush Administration, through Mr. Obama’s final full year of 2016. Adjusting for inflation, you can call Mr. Obama the $600 Billion Man.
“One measure of the amount of red tape spewing out of Washington is the number of pages of proposed and final rules printed in the Federal Register. ‘Of the top 10 all-time-high Federal Register page counts, seven occurred under President Barack Obama,’ notes Mr. Crews. And let’s hope that Mr. Obama’s latest record, set on his final lap in 2016, will never be broken. Mr. Crews reports that the register ‘finished 2016 at 95,894 pages, the highest level in its history and 19 percent higher than the previous year’s 80,260 pages.’”
4. NASA Probe to Explore the Sun’s Atmosphere for the First Time
Parker Solar Probe named after University of Chicago scientist who first wrote of solar winds in 1960s
By Shibani Mahtani, WSJ, May 31, 2017
SUMMARY: “NASA announced here Wednesday that it will launch an unprecedented mission to fly directly into the sun’s atmosphere, zooming within 4 million miles of the surface and withstanding temperatures of up to 2,500 Fahrenheit.”
“This is the first time a satellite will fly directly into the sun’s atmosphere, hoping to answer questions including why the atmosphere, known as the corona, is hotter than the surface of the sun itself and other questions about space weather. The spacecraft and instruments will be protected by a 4.5-inch thick carbon-composite shield, NASA said.
“’We have not been able to answer these questions without being able to take a probe at the sun,” said Nicola Fox, the mission project scientist for the solar probe. Answers to these questions are “key to us being able to put the last pieces together’ about the sun’s atmosphere, she added.”
“The mission, which will launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is fully funded, costing about $1.5 billion from development to launch.
“The whole mission will take about seven years, Dr. Fox said.”
“NASA says the mission was 60 years in the making, bolstered by Dr. Parker’s transformational research, in which he predicted the existence of solar winds. His research changed the way scientists perceive space and formed the basis for the solar probe.
“The mission is a culmination of research in the field of solar and heliophysics since then, said Thomas Zurbuchen, association administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA’s Washington headquarters. ‘We want to go down there…we built the machines robust enough to do that.’
“Understanding weather patterns in space, scientists say, will have real-life applications, since plasma and radiation from the sun could affect our planet. Space weather can influence everything including electrical grids and GPS systems, and further understanding of the atmospheric changes will help scientists find ways to minimize disruptions to these systems on earth.”