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Incredibly Shrinking America

By pulling out of the Paris Accord, we cede world leadership to China

In a stunning move with only his re-election in mind, Donald Trump has turned his back on the rest of the world taking another step destined to create hostility with allies and cede world leadership to China. As we have painfully been made
aware, by quitting the Paris climate accord, the remarkable alliance of 195 nations given birth by decades of careful negotiation, we now keep company with only Syria and Nicaragua.

Withdrawal from the climate agreement is the stupidest policy blunder since George W. Bush decided to invade Iraq. It is not even required to believe in global warming to know this. Rejection of a world movement has already triggered ramifications that will erode our leadership position in the world and in turn harm our industries and economy for years. Trump's first retreat was his outright cancellation of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) of 12 nations that Obama had engineered as a counter to China's influence. China immediately stepped into the breach to create its own coalition which will now enable them to set the rules of trade for that half of the globe. And at the NATO summit Trump uniquely refrained from voicing the standard pledge that the United States would come to the defense of any member nation if attacked, which has Europe worried that it cannot rely on the U.S. And now comes this.

deaf ears

In January, 630 businesses and investors — major U.S. corporations — signed an open letter to the president-elect and Congress pressing for lowered carbon policies and continued membership in the Paris alliance. In May, 25 companies including Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, bought full-page ads in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post urging the U.S. to remain because the agreement will "generate jobs and economic growth" and "U.S. companies are well positioned to lead in these markets". George Schultz, secretary of treasury and state under Nixon and Reagan, co-wrote an op-ed citing the remarkable breadth of the coalition, "industries from oil and gas to retail, mining, utilities, agriculture, chemicals, information and automotive" who see with Shultz that participation will "strengthen American competitiveness, create jobs and ensure American access to global markets". In what was called his first tweet ever, even Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein weighed in with "Today's decision is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.'s leadership position in the world". We might well see retaliation that damages our economy.

A Yale Program on climate change that surveys voters found that 70% of Americans wanted to stay in the Paris accord and only 28% of those who voted for Trump agreed that the U.S. should abandon. More than 6 in 10
Trump voters think the pollution that causes warming should be taxed. Off in his corner is Donald Trump, whose approval rating according to the latest Gallup poll has dropped to 36% with 58% disapproving.

Trump's action in defiance of most of the country has stirred American states, cities and companies to band together to adhere to the Paris pledge on their own. The group, coordinated by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, so far includes 30 mayors, 3 governors, 82 university presidents and more than 100 businesses. The coalition intends to bypass Trump by working directly with European nations. The European Union's commissioner for climate action and energy said, "We will establish a dialogue…with all the players that in the United States support ambitious climate change policies". Angela Merkel responded, "I am so moved that so many states and enterprises in the United States of America want to travel this path with us. We will travel it together".

trumped

Making his announcement in the White House Rose Garden, Trump said,

"We're getting out, but we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that's fair. And if we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine".

Trump had listened to no less an authority than Kevin Cramer, public service commissioner of North Dakota for a decade before recent election to Congress, who had been feeding him the nonsense that he could renegotiate a deal, a deal with 195 parties to it. Trump called leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Canada to explain his actions and that he wanted to negotiate a better deal for the United States. A trio of European leaders — Macron of France, Merkel of Germany, and Gentilone of Italy — immediately disabused Trump of the notion that such privileges were available to the United States, saying the accord is "irreversible" and "cannot be renegotiated". Following his dismissive insult to the entire world, Trump thinks that exceptional America has the right to be the exception.

At the NATO summit in Brussels and and the Group of 7 meeting in Italy, Trump's pugnacity had been in full voice, lecturing on climate, picking a fight with Germany for depressing the euro's value to make its goods cheaper, threatening to block import of German autos (unaware that BMW and Mercedes-Benz manufacture here), and hectoring European leaders once again about paying their NATO dues. Back in the U.S., the President of the United States even engaged in a senseless Twitter war with London's mayor.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer meant to reassure, saying, "He'll obviously continue to talk to world leaders" and "exiting Paris does not mean disengagement", but he must have been unaware that leaders in foreign capitals have already disengaged from us, renewing their pledges to reduce emissions without the U.S. After meeting with China in a two-day summit meeting in Brussels, the European Council stated, "Today we are stepping up our cooperation on climate change with China". A spokeswoman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said "China is willing to enhance cooperation with all sides …on details on implementing the Paris agreement". German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Trump "will not deter all of us who feel obliged to protect this Earth". Unlike the thinly educated Trump — an undergraduate degree in real estate — Ms. Merkel was previously a scientist.

Rasputin re-ascendant

Trump has once again fallen under the thrall of the nationalistic destructiveness of Stephen Bannon, who, along with the Oklahoma fossil fuel zealot, Tom Pruitt, whom Trump appointed to cripple the Environmental Protection Agency, persuaded Trump that this would be the perfect stratagem to please his low-information base who think this will bring jobs back to middle America. Unaware that he is now president for all Americans, Trump instead stuck to a reckless promise made only to those who elected him, the rest of the country and our place in the world be damned.

"Our withdrawal from the agreement represents a reassertion of America's sovereignty", said Trump. Except nothing in the accord does impinge on our sovereignty. The real attitude? Nobody gets to tell the mighty United States what to do. We tell them what to do.

For Trump, everything is a transaction with money at its core. He is particularly vexed by America's contribution to the fund that helps small nations in the path of rising oceans — calling it “billions and billions and billions” of dollars. In fact it is $3 billion, an infinitesimal reparation from the country that until recently was for a century the world's largest emitter, with America's 5% of the world's population spewing 25% of its pollution into the atmosphere. Where is any concern for climate when he says, "The same nations asking us to stay … have collectively cost America trillions of dollars through tough trade practices and in many cases lax contributions to our critical military alliance", a statement that drags in his other money grievances. "This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage", he says.

That is exactly what they will gain by our quitting. We are handing to others dominance in renewable energy, an extraordinary gift especially to China, to which the world will now turn for the latest green technology and manufacture. The Chinese are ecstatic at this development. Once again, we are destined to watch an Asian country take over technologies that America largely pioneered, that which they haven't already. It is a huge market envisioned to be $6 trillion by 2030 for wind, solar, electric cars, and the storage batteries that will level weather and wind intermittancy. "The nations that remain in the Paris agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created", said Obama. Instead, Trump will sacrifice all of that, pandering for the votes of the dying coal industry.

fake future news

Of all the forecasts of what emission reduction is likely to bring about in the U.S., Trump — no researcher — was apparently handed by Pruitt or Bannon the worst case of a hotly disputed study by an outfit named NERA, an economic research arm of Marsh & McLennan, an insurance brokerage and risk management firm. That led him to cite in his announcement "draconian financial and economic burdens" and "shuttered factories" leading to the loss of 2.7 million jobs by 2025. He cited plunges in industrial production — 12% in paper production, 23% in cement, 38% in iron and steel, for example — as if the economy would grind to a halt. The figures are viewed as greatly exaggerated (and, of course, the country would not blindly go off the cliff if they proved to be true) when one takes note that the U.S. has already reduced emissions 12% below the 2005 Paris benchmark peak; industry is booming, as reflected by all-time record stock market indexes; and the economy, despite Obama's supposedly job-killing regulations, has added 11.3 million in a decade leading to a 4.3% unemployment rate, the lowest in 16 years.

Given its plunging assumptions, the outlier study seems to pay no recognition to the millions of jobs that would be created in a full scale, decades-long transfer to renewable energy. Hundreds of thousands are already employed in wind and solar, more already than work in the coal industry — mining, transportation, and power plants combined. It's already happening, but Trump wants it stopped.

duped

Trump was also hoodwinked by about 40 conservative groups — including the Heartland Institute, Americans for Tax Reform and the Heritage Foundation — sent a letter to Trump in May urging withdrawal. Doubtless knowing that Trump does not want to read anything longer than a single page, they safely assumed that the president knew nothing of the terms of the Paris accord, so they lied to him. So did 22 Republican senators who wrote to Trump urging withdrawal. Both, along with Tom Pruitt, warned the president that staying in could lead to legal ramifications, as if other signatories to the accord could sue the U.S. for not meeting emission targets.

Trump fell for the lie. There are no legal requirements. All participation is voluntary. Each nation sets a target for reducing emissions and submits reports of how well or poorly it is doing on the path to that goal. That's it.

A smug Journal editorial treats this as a laughable oversight, as if the Paris negotiators could possibly have arrogated to themselves enforcement powers and still hope to bring along virtually every nation on Earth.

The point is, there was no need to drop out of the agreement. Trump could back away from Obama's commitments, fall short of meeting emission reduction targets, yet keep America's place at the table where it can monitor technological developments and progress of other nations and maintain diplomatic relations. Instead, he chose to raise his middle finger and make America an international pariah. His arrogance attempts to foreclose any option of a future American president to resume our membership in the world and combat what science fears will be the ultimate and irreversible upheaval for life on the planet. Trump has stirred such animosity that a coalition of nations should consider invoking sanctions against the U.S.

Against the climate scientists' consensus is a body of skeptics who believe that the rate of change is overblown, pointing out that, when fed past data, none of the models recreate what actually happened. Then there are those at the bottom of the knowledge chain who think climate change is nonexistent, persons such as Donald Trump who has said it is a hoax.


But setting aside the climate question, even the skeptics should want the reduction of pollution that the accord will bring. Returning to Earth from our moon, astronaut Edgar Mitchell looked at the glowing corona around our planet and saw how vulnerable is our "thin film of life". We have but one atmosphere, yet those unconcerned for the lives that follow us in the centuries to come choose not to face up to how dumb it is to go on digging up hydrocarbons, formed and safely buried away over millions of years, and burning them into the atmosphere where their greenhouse gases accumulate and persist for a century or so.

A silver lining is that withdrawal is a four-year process. If we can get rid of Trump, there's the possibility of a last minute reversal.

The United States, represented by Barack Obama, agreed to reduce its carbon pollution by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. It's ambitious — probably too ambitious — but it depends on the fuel efficiency standards agreed to by the auto industry and the EPA's Clean Power Plan's regulations that require states to devise their own means to bring down emissions to levels that consider each state's circumstances. Trump would roll back all of that, release public lands and offshore waters to drilling for oil and gas, open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, void even regulations aimed at preventing oil rig blowouts such as the disastrous Deepwater Horizon. And to make certain we don't learn that he might be wrong about warming, Trump wants to defund the satellites and ocean bouys that measure warming of the atmosphere and the seas.

Everything he intends has the objective of erasing progress. We are witnessing a nation held hostage by a petty man who wants to destroy the legacy of a black president who he probably still thinks illegitimately gained that office, a man who is using the presidency to revenge Obama for chiding him at the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Inept to the end, Trump tried for feeble alliteration with, "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris", except Pittsburgh didn't elect him. They went 80% for Hillary. Moreover, he chose a city that once choked on coal pollution but has become a model for what the Paris accord hopes to achieve. Someone should have told him there's a Paris in Texas.

2 Comments for “Incredibly Shrinking America”

  1. We have bought allegiance from other nations’, let’s not pretend otherwise. Those nation’s want the American Tax Payer to Pay their Bills, under the guise of Ally, when in reality they are world economic competitors. The Question here was asked and answered by the POTUS, and not all liked the answer – and use the Paris Summit as an excuse to batter the POTUS for taking a stand, and applying it to Home Nation Building rather then funding other nations infrastructure. Doesn’t take a genius to see that. Europe is not only failing in the ” Open Border Question “, but in this Question also. Think Folks, all starts at Home so you have a strong foundation for all other matters.

  2. It used to be that one could look at a local Communist newsletter, read the familiar Ad hominem attack phrases like, “Running dogs of capitalism”, quietly dismiss the article’s content, and laugh at the wasted effort made by the political ideologue who wrote it. Here we are many years later, and although the subject has changed, the writing technique is still with us; with the same results.

    I mean no personal disrespect to the author who wrote, “Incredibly Shrinking America”; but just look at what has replaced pointed discussion:
    “another step destined to create hostility
    the stupidest policy blunder
    will erode our leadership position in the world
    Trump’s pugnacity
    picking a fight with Germany
    hectoring European leaders
    senseless Twitter war
    thinly educated Trump
    an undergraduate degree in real estate – 1968 with a degree in economics
    nationalistic destructiveness
    fossil fuel zealot
    Trump appointed to cripple the Environmental Protection Agency
    Unaware that he is now president
    a reckless promise
    our place in the world be damned
    Trump was also hoodwinked
    Trump does not want to read
    assumed that the president knew nothing
    Trump fell for the lie
    A smug Journal editorial
    he chose to raise his middle finger
    America an international pariah
    His arrogance
    at the bottom of the knowledge chain
    those unconcerned for the lives that follow us
    Everything he intends has the objective of erasing progress
    who he probably still thinks illegitimately gained that office
    using the presidency to revenge
    Inept to the end”

    This website has been advertised as “Let’s Fix this Country”. What has the author offered up as a solution to Global Warming? This:
    “a coalition of nations should consider invoking sanctions against the U.S.”
    “If we can get rid of Trump”

    I’m sorry, but this article does not touch the minds of anyone seriously concerned about this subject.

    Personally, I have no doubt that this earth is warming up. After all, we are just coming out of the two million year-long Pleistocene Ice Age. But the recent temperature information that is being distorted, lost, and exaggerated by the proponents of man-made global warming makes their conclusions very hard to accept.

    And the scientific data that has been done seems to contradict the conclusions that are being made. For example, all during the Ordovician Ice Age, 480 million to 440 million years ago, this planet had CO2 levels at 5,000 ppm; so the magnitude of the CO2 levels cannot mean that this planet MUST warm. All through the Pleistocene Ice Age the CO2 levels remained about where they are now. Yet this planet started warming up about 30,000 years ago. That means that changes in CO2 levels could not have caused the end of the Pleistocene Ica Age. The Milankovitch cycles resonate every 30, 40, and 100 thousand years, so they could not have caused the end of an Ice Age that lasted 2 million years.

    Then the scientists seem to ignore examining the sources of the planet’s CO2, simply assuming that it is man-made. For example, only 33 volcanoes world-wide are being measured to provide planet generated CO2. Note, a population size of 10,000 volcanoes; 2.5 margin of error; and a 95 % confidence interval would require a sample size of 1,332. A sample size of 33 would mean that the confidence interval was 17 %. Throw in the fact that the sample is not random and you have a real statistical game show about the accuracy of the reported figures (between 180 and 440 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year from volcanic sources).

    There is another massive problem with estimating natural CO2 emissions beyond not using proper statistical methods for finding it. It has to do with the oceans ability to both absorb and release CO2. No one is looking for volcanic emissions underwater, and this is the source of most of the ocean’s CO2 (Pacific Ring of Fire, Mid-Atlantic Ridge, etc). This could easily give scientists the false belief that the oceans have a much higher or lower absorption capability than they really do. And this could also cause atmospheric CO2 levels to increase way beyond any current expectations if the Oceans are nearing their saturation point. When the ocean temperature increases, its saturation point will actually become lower and the oceans will start releasing CO2 instead of absorbing it. A LOT of CO2.

    This is backed up by the fact that at the end of all three Ice Ages in the last 500 million years (including the one that we just got out of), CO2 levels increased dramatically. In the case of the Ordovician and the Pennsylvanian Ice Ages, CO2 levels increased about 5,000 ppm – with no humans on the planet.

    After all of that, I am perfectly happy to accept a reasonable argument that can explain why the earth started warming up 30,000 years ago. And would love it if someone can also explain why that “cause” isn’t still warming the planet.

    Now how can someone talk someone like me into funding green energy? Simple. National Security.

    No sane government would want to have to defend an energy pipeline that extends to the other side of the planet. And no sane government would want another government to be able cut off their supply of energy and collapse their economy.

    Now how do we solve the problem? It’s so simple. Two Princeton professors Joan Ogden and Robert Williams spelled out the basic principles back in 1989. Allocate 24,000 square miles of desert and built thousands of amorphous solar cell manufacturing machines. They, in turn, fill all that area with inexpensive solar cells 10 feet wide and a quarter mile long that will provide 100 percent of all of America’s energy needs. The bulk of the DC energy produced splits H2O into 2H2 + O2; what’s called HOX fuel. Anything that burns fossil fuels can burn HOX. So with only minor alterations, all of our current transportation and energy systems will have an unlimited amount of fuel. And the by-product is the cleanest form of water that there is. No CO2 or Nitrous emissions at all.

    Coal, oil, nuclear, hydroelectric sources of energy are all important as back-up sources and need to be maintained for National Security purposes. Intentional overproduction of energy would drive down the cost of energy back to the equivalent of $1 a gallon of gas. Keep this in mind. All throughout mankind’s history, the sun has provided energy that grows 99 % of the world’s food.

    The development of a system like this would cost tens and tens of billions of dollars and its economic payback would be well beyond 5 years. As such, it would require Congressional funding and overall management of the civilian companies running it. There is only one problem. Environmentalists.

    If you placed 15 environmentalists into a room and asked them to form a consensus on a green energy plan, you would wind up with over 15 independent plans. It’s been my personal observation that the various types of green energy proponents are as rabid about their “types” of energy as any politician has about his politics.

    Inexpensive and independent energy will provide security and a monumental boost to our economy, that will help pay for a strong and sophisticated military that will protect this countries and our friends. The by-product is clean air, water, millions of jobs, a very large middle class, and a much safer country.

    You will note that I did criticize the writing “style” of the author, but I have not denigrated any political Party or individual.

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