Thursday, June 1, 2017

Trump's biggest blunder to date: No to climate change

Business Insider graphic
What San Francisco's waterfront could look like if no action is taken against climate change.

THERE'S NO way of parsing words to say this diplomatically: Donald Trump announced today (May 31) to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate agreement may be his stupidest action yet.

Front page of the Daily News
Stupider (is that a word?) than hiring Michael Flynn at national security chief even though the FBI and a then-cooperative President Obama warned Trump not to do it? Stupider than hiring Steve Bannon, a white supremacist, as senior advisor? Stupider than firing James Comey, who was in the middle of the investigation of the extent of Russia's role in messing around the U.S. presidential elections? Stupider than putting Betsy Devos, a woman who doesn't like public schools -  never attended a public school, never sent any of her children to public school, - in charge of the Department of Education? Stupider than - in a show of playground braggadocio - than revealing classified information to the Russians?

Yes. That's a lot of stupid, (and I can go on and on) but pulling out of the Paris climate accord hammered out after years of negotiations and signed on by every country on the planet (except Nicaragua, which actually wanted stronger sanctions, and Syria) tops them all.

"This is a reckless and foolish mistake, and our kids will pay the price.," said 
Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resource Defense Council. "The Paris climate accord is a triumph of American leadership. It’s about doing what’s best for our people at home—spurring clean energy innovation and creating millions of good-paying jobs, while protecting our children and communities from pollution. And we got the whole world to join us.

“This is not putting America first: It’s putting fossil fuel profits ahead of the national interest," said Suh, one of the most prominent Asian/American figures in the environmental movement.'

"The world is a very complicated place these days for a lot of reasons, but climate change is the one thing the world agrees on. North Korea signed the Paris accord. Everybody agrees on this," said Suh.

An excellent article by Skeptical Science on the so-called debate over scientific evidence of man's influence on climate shows that it is really no debate at all.

This so-called debate, a fore-runner of the "fake news" strategy being employed to discredit any news artucke critical of the present administration, called for another study for a consensus on the numerous studies being used to argue for or against climate change.

What was concluded by the study by climate scientists - EXPERTS, mind you, not people off the street in disagreement - is that the so-called studies being cited by climate deniers  like Trump and EPA Secretary Soctt Pruitt, are from non-experts, as opposed by the studies by the EXPERTS, which say man is a huge factor in the warming of our planet.

"Pulling out of the Paris Agreement is an irrational decision that is a disastrous step backward, threatens the future viability of our planet for future generations, and abdicates our role of leadership," said California Sen. Kamala Harris.

We all have a stake in stemming the warming temperatures of our planet. Outside of the obvious - that we have nowhere else to go - Earth temperatures are rising faster than normal and will have disastrous impacts around the world. Among the earliest victims of climate change are the island nations such as the Philippines, Samoa, Fiji and the Maldives.

In a paper presented to a scientific gathering in Manila last month, Dr. Josefino "Joey" C. Comiso, a prominent and well-respected Filipino/American senior research scientist at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States concluded:
"At the current rate of decline, the perennial ice in the Arctic, which has persisted in summer for at least 1,450 years, is likely to melt completely within this century and cause drastic changes in the ecology of the region and alterations in the thermohaline global ocean circulation. 
"The rate of sea level rise has increased from 2 mm/year to 3 mm/year but the main concern is the vulnerability of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets which could cause a few meters increase in sea level causing big disruptions in coastal cities around the globe. 
"Warmer sea surface temperature is also expected to cause a higher frequency of heat waves and of extreme events like super-typhoons and flooding. A warmer climate will lead to increases in areas affected by drought and fire and the loss of crop yields and biodiversity. Resiliency to catastrophic events and strategies for adaptation to our changing climate will be discussed."
Current data show an increase in sea surface heights. Scientists say this is due to the melting of ice sheets in northern portions of the globe like Antarctica and Greenland. Sea level rise by 4 to 6 meters can submerge low-lying communities like Tacloban City which stands only 3 meters above sea level.

The creation of tropical cyclones is already being recorded in areas where the phenomenon had never been observed. On Nov 8, 2013, Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), said to be the strongest storm in recorded history, devastated cities in the Visayas region.

Island nations will be the first to feel the impact of global warming.

If that sounds frightening, the impact on the smaller island nations will be even more disastrous. Kiribati, with a population of 11,000 in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, bought 20 square miles of land on Vanua Levu, one of the Fiji islands, about 2,000 km away as a possible refuge when their country goes underwater.

Other countries or islands in the Maldives, Polynesia and the Philippines will have to deal with mass migrations of people as they abandon their homes to the ocean. This drastic action will set off a chain reaction around the world dealing with climate refugees.

The United States will also suffer. Its coastal communities such as San Francisco and New York City, will have to mitigate the rise in their waterfronts, huge swaths of Florida and Louisiana will go under water including the cities of Miami and New Orleans.

The economic argument used by Trump and his supporters also ring hollow. His own economic advisors, including former Exxon chief and current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and corporate leaders like Tesla's Elon Musk and Disney's Bob Iger have argued to stay with the climate accord. Hours after Trump made his announcement, Musk and Iger resigned from Trump's council of economic advisors.

The job growth in the alternative energy industries are mushrooming and dwarfs any employment lost in coal mining jobs. 

"You look at (it) economically — I talked about fuel economy standards. Tesla was just valued as the highest-valued motor company in the U.S.," said Suh. "That means renewable energy and the clean-tech economy is really present. It’s not just some far-flung thing, both within the context of electric vehicles and within the context of wind and solar. Beyond our electricity grid, we are creating millions of new jobs in the clean and efficient energy sector. Do we need the domestic leadership out of our president and the White House and Congress to take advantage of that and grow that more, or are we going to cede that economic advantage to countries like China and India? I think that’s the larger question."
But he's turned a deaf ear to the overwhelming evidence and advice in favor of short-sighted demagoguery and the quick and fleeting "win," with his base supporters. The anti-science and anti-intelligence attitudes that have been hallmarks of his campaign and presidency thus far, preferring to tweet those positions as "leftist elitism." 

Trump's announcement will undoubtedly please his base by turning the argument away from the science of climate change to the art of the deal. He claims the U.S. is being economically screwed by the agreement, ignoring the fact that the U.S. is one of the biggest polluters in the world but has profited most from dirtying the air that contributes to the changing climate.

Trump did some bashing of China and India to justify leaving the accord saying these two Asian countries are not doing their share of cleaning up their own industries neglecting to mention that according to the Paris agreement, each country could set their own goals. He could easily have lowered the U.S. goals. (Incidently, blaming those two Asian countries  also satisfies the xenophobes who are afraid of anything foreign.)

The U.S. GDP dwarfs every other nation's, therefore it is only logical to have the country with the greatest ability to contribute, and the country that creates the much of the world's pollution do more and pay more to stem global warming.

Trump tried to appear open to renegotiations but that rings hollow because Trump knows that the other industrial countries would not agree to that. If the world had to start from scratch to reach an agreement, it could be up to the next president to finish the negotiations.

Millions of people around the world took part in the Climate Change march held last April 29.

While Trump gives his supporters what they want, the showman may just be giving them a show. Under the terms of the Paris accord, the U.S. must wait until November 2019 to formally submit his intention to withdraw. At that point, the U.S. enters a one-year waiting period before it’s formally removed. The decision could be reversed by the next president -- or even Trump himself. As a result, the issue will certainly be used against the GOP in the 2018 midterms and in the 2020 presidential election campaign.

"Whatever is agreed within the United States today, with China (the two largest sources of CO2emissions), it will not have a bearing on our future, because already, it's too late for us ... And so we are the canary. But hopefully, that experience will send a very strong message that we might be on the frontline today, but others will be on the frontline next," said Kiribati President Enote Tong in an interview on CNN.

Trump's decision is just plain ... STUPID! But hey, the U.S. is not completely alone. Thank goodness for Syria and Nicaragua to keep Trump company.