Before the likes of billionaires Tom Steyer and Elon Musk, media darlings Tom Brokaw and Paul Krugman, celebrities Bette Midler and Leo DiCaprio get too lathered up about President Trump’s cancelling of the Paris Agreement, they might want to read what Patrick J. Michaels, director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, has to say.
The Paris Agreement is based upon a fundamental misconception of climate history and science. The objective is to hold temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, and to “pursue efforts” to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The key misconception is that all of the warming since the Industrial Revolution — 0.9 degrees Celsius — is a result of human activity.
Hardly. Since the beginning of reliable global temperature records in the late 19th century, there have been two periods of significant warming that are statistically indistinguishable in magnitude. The first period ran from 1910 through about 1945, with a temperature increase of around 0.5 degrees Celsius. There could only be minimal human influence on this period, simply because humans had not emitted very much carbon dioxide.
President Barack Obama had no authority to bind America to an enduring international accord, David French reminds readers in NRO. Like the Iran nuclear deal and the war against Libya, the Paris Agreement was signed without Senate ratification. Obama used his legal authority to ratify the accord without the two-thirds Senate vote required for treaties.
Simply put, before any president attempts to bind the United States to an enduring multinational accord, it’s his duty to convince the American people — through constitutional processes — that the agreement is in the best interests of the United States. Barack Obama failed to do this in 2015. Trump is right to reject his actions today.
(L)et’s dispense with any notion that climate change is too important to be left to constitutional treaty-making process. If the consequences of climate change will be as catastrophic as alarmists fear, then the constitutional process becomes more important, not less. The constitutional process creates binding obligations that are based in broad consensus. If two-thirds of senators vote to ratify a treaty, then that effectively means that a supermajority of the American people either agree or acquiesce to the nation’s commitment. It provides the basis for national action in response.
Moreover, there’s an important cultural value in following the Constitution. The treaty process places the burden of persuasion on American politicians. It’s one thing to name-call and jeer at “climate deniers” when you can impose your will through a mere 51 percent of the Electoral College. It’s another thing entirely to try to build a two-thirds consensus, a consensus that would necessarily have to unite large sectors of red and blue. The process of persuasion can have a positive effect on political discourse, requiring politicians to address voters concerns not merely dismiss dissenters as rubes and know-nothings.
The Paris Agreement is nothing more than “an exercise in moral and social signaling that is likely to exert little if any influence on atmospheric CO2, much less on global temperatures,” writes the WSJ.
The Paris target was to limit the surface temperature increase to “well below” two degrees Celsius from the pre-industrial level by 2100. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Joint Program conclude that even if every INDC is fulfilled to the letter, the temperature increase will be in the range of 1.9–2.6 degrees Celsius by 2050, and 3.1–5.2 degrees Celsius by 2100.
To the overwrought claim that the U.S. is abdicating global leadership?
Leadership is not defined as the U.S. endorsing whatever other world leaders have already decided they want to do, and the U.S. is providing a better model in any case. Private economies that can innovate and provide cost-effective energy alternatives will always beat meaningless international agreements. To the extent Paris damages economic growth, the irony is that it would leave the world less prepared for climate change.
Read more here.