US President Donald Trump made two right moves in his June 1 announcement about withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.
The first was withdrawing from the agreement. Among many flaws, the pact:
• Will fall far short of its goal of limiting the postindustrial rise in global average temperature to 2°C., even if it achieves full compliance by all signatories.
• Will not achieve full compliance by all signatories.
• Implies controversially if not erroneously that greenhouse-gas emissions can be calibrated to global average temperature with precision appropriate to policy-making.
• Makes theoretical mitigation of climate change a higher priority than affordable energy in matters of human welfare.
• Relies on energy decisions by governments, which consistently make poor energy decisions.
• Emerges from a political process that suppresses democratic expressions of popular will in service to demands of activists, some pushing hopelessly extreme agendas.
• Accommodates vapid propaganda about a “consensus of scientists” and “settled science” to stifle discussion about complex natural systems.
• Aligns targets and prescriptions with worst-case calamities while disparaging questions about probabilities of worst-case outcomes.
• Would have served in the US as a political and legal touchstone for federal takeover of the energy economy.
Trump’s other right move was offering to renegotiate the agreement or consider something new.
The offer correctly implies that the US can reject a defective agreement without abandoning concern about human contributions to global warming.
Thoughtful people can agree about existence of the phenomenon while disagreeing about the extent of peril and how to respond.
But popular discourse supporting the Paris Agreement won’t tolerate disagreement even to that limited extent.
Climate change craves the second look Trump wants to give it. It also craves honest assessment from all perspectives of the issue.
What it received before Paris was relentless moralizing, intellectual bigotry, and scientific monopolization—wretchedly abetted by news media unable or unwilling to ask questions upsetting to activists.
World leaders are horrified by Trump’s move. Why wouldn’t they be?
He challenged them to get serious about climate change.
(From the subscription area of www.ogj.com, posted June 2, 2017; author’s e-mail: [email protected])