Environmentalism

Trump Exaggerates Price of Paris Climate Accord

Today, as in the past, the opponents of environmental protection vastly exaggerate the expense of reducing pollution.

|

Donald Trump's chief argument for withdrawing from the Paris climate accord is that it would destroy jobs, stifle growth, cause electricity blackouts, and raise energy prices to ruinous levels. His decision is proof that he and his allies have no knowledge of the past and no regard for the future.

Americans have had to deal with environmental dangers before. Back in the 1960s, our air was filthy. Our rivers and lakes were dying. Our kids were being poisoned by lead. Alligators, bald eagles and other species were threatened with extinction.

But not everyone cared. Such ills, we were told, were the price of progress. We could have a cleaner environment, or we could have jobs and modern comforts. Require factories and cars to pollute less and our prosperity would vanish, leaving us all cold, hungry and poor.

It didn't turn out that way. A Republican president, Richard Nixon, signed the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act and created the Environmental Protection Agency. Things began to improve.

Auto and factory emissions declined. Skies cleared, and rivers became safe for swimming. Endangered creatures came roaring back. Lead levels in humans fell. Better air saved hundreds of thousands of lives by reducing heart disease and asthma.

Not only that but the economy flourished. Trump and his budget director have been promising a return to GDP growth rates of 3 percent per year. Back in the 1970s and '80s, despite those new environmental rules, growth often topped 4 and even 5 percent.

The doomsayers were wrong. The cost of protecting the environment turned out to be much less than critics had claimed. We proved beyond doubt that it is possible to solve serious environmental problems while making our people richer, healthier and more comfortable. Yet Trump and his allies have dug the old arguments out of the grave and lined them up like zombies to do battle.

In his announcement Thursday, the president took a moment to brag about the jobs added since he took office—overlooking that they materialized in spite of Barack Obama's environmental regulations, many of which are still in place.

The U.S. emissions targets in the Paris agreement were not onerous. Jerry Taylor, president of the Niskanen Center in Washington, has pointed out, "We're already two-thirds of the way toward meeting" them. All that is needed to complete the job is to merely accelerate the shift from coal to natural gas that is already underway.

If Trump were keen on job growth, he might note that the oil and gas business has added more jobs since 2006 than there are jobs in the entire coal industry. The evidence suggests that by 2030, if left in place, the Clean Power Plan (which is designed to cut carbon emissions) would create 15,000 jobs on net.

Today, as in the past, the opponents of environmental protection vastly exaggerate the expense of reducing pollution. As before, they give no weight to the rewards. The benefits are not limited to saving the polar bears and the Greenland ice sheet decades from now. A study in the scientific journal PLOS ONE concluded that in the U.S., "air quality improvements associated with climate mitigation policies can be large, widespread, and occur nearly immediately once emissions reductions are realized."

The scientific basis for curtailing greenhouse gas emissions is powerful. But it's been clear for a long time that no amount of evidence will convince the opponents.

First they denied the planet is warming. Then they said the planet is warming, but from natural causes. Then they admitted humans are partly to blame but insisted we don't know how much warming will occur. Their latest line is that people are cooking the earth but the Paris accord would make only a trivial difference. Their conclusion, however, never changes: Do nothing.

But the mild uncertainty and modest costs that we face are no grounds for complacency. Taking steps to reduce carbon emissions would show a prudent approach to peril, an appreciation of the future consequences of our actions and a farsighted concern for generations yet to come.

Trump worries that the world is laughing at us. He should worry that his grandchildren will curse him.

COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

20 responses to “Trump Exaggerates Price of Paris Climate Accord

  1. I don’t think the Reason audience is going to be too receptive to Chapman’s climate nonsense. Not sure why it’s being published at Reason.

  2. Well-written and convincing presentation there Mr. Chapman.

  3. It’s always funny seeing Reason editors calling for MORE regulations.

    Not only that but the economy flourished. Trump and his budget director have been promising a return to GDP growth rates of 3 percent per year. Back in the 1970s and ’80s, despite those new environmental rules, growth often topped 4 and even 5 percent.

    When Obama was pursuing the fever dream you support, what were the growth rates then?

    And the 1970’s isn’t known as a powerful economic time for this country. Kinda the opposite, actually.

    First they denied the planet is warming. Then they said the planet is warming, but from natural causes. Then they admitted humans are partly to blame but insisted we don’t know how much warming will occur. Their latest line is that people are cooking the earth but the Paris accord would make only a trivial difference. Their conclusion, however, never changes: Do nothing.

    The cultists argue that the earth is warming really quickly, but cannot prove it. Then they change their models yearly and none of them work, Then they won’t provide any raw data to back up anything. Then they manipulate the historical temperature record to create increases that were not there.

    Their conclusions, however, never change: Spend more money and provide increasing power to the government.

    Good work, Libertarian magazine. Solid piece to bolster Libertarian credibility.

    1. Chapman is just a contributor. Why they choose to print this article is anyone’s guess. And they have been stringently opposed to regulations on Uber. And at the end of the day, isn’t support for Uber the only important issue?

      1. AirBnB matters too.

      2. Yeah, I doubt Chapman even knows what Reason Magazine is. They publish everything he writes for the Chicago Tribune though, no matter how stupid. And, of course, his readers there think him to be a “dangerous right wing interloper”.

  4. “the opponents of environmental protection vastly exaggerate the expense of reducing pollution”

    Translation: “I don’t know anyone who works in a coal mine or that lives in flyover country and I can afford higher energy costs, so this won’t effect me. Therefore, the effects are minimal”

    1. Also liked A study in the scientific journal PLOS ONE concluded that in the U.S., “air quality improvements associated with climate mitigation policies can be large, widespread, and occur nearly immediately once emissions reductions are realized.”

      Meaning that, yes, once we kill the economy and impoverish people, then we will have much cleaner air.

      I bet that will make the people wallowing in misery happier knowing that while they cannot eat, they won’t cough as much.

      1. And no mention that it’s vastly more expensive to get the air just that last… 1… percent… cleaner.

  5. Donald Trump’s chief argument for withdrawing from the Paris climate accord is that it would destroy jobs, stifle growth, cause electricity blackouts, and raise energy prices to ruinous levels. His decision is proof that he and his allies have no knowledge of the past and no regard for the future.

    So, Chapman, what government regulations stifle economic growth and development? These, apparently, do not — so can you, a Libertarian, spell out which ones are bad?

    Know who claimed that your policies would necessarily cause higher energy prices? Obama.

    1. raise energy prices to ruinous levels

      Like in Germany today? After a couple decades of pretending they could run their economy on unicorn farts?

  6. Donald Trump’s chief argument for withdrawing from the Paris climate accord is that it would destroy jobs, stifle growth, cause electricity blackouts, and raise energy prices to ruinous levels.

    http://www.climatedepot.com/20…..r-by-2100/

    I’ll just leave this here…

    You know, Reason, I get really angry when you make me defend Trump!

  7. Anyone who claims that humans are cooking the planet doesn’t get to criticize others for doom mongering.

    And we reference niskanen again. Is their ANY statist intervention that they don’t support?

    1. Uber. They don’t want Uber regulated. And apparently that is the only important issue today. I guess supporting Uber is enough to differentiate you from just being a progressive.

      1. Understandable, it is the defining issue of our time.

  8. “”The two things you need to know about the Paris [climate] agreement are, one, it is not going to do very much to tackle climate [change]…and it is incredibly costly.” So says Bjorn Lomborg, the president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and author of The Skeptical Environmentalist. Make no mistake, the Danish political scientist believes climate change is happening and that human activity is the main cause.

    But as Lomborg stressed during an interview with Reason’s Nick Gillespie, the Paris accord and the earlier Kyoto Protocol are terrible ways to tackle the problem and the United States was right to withdraw from the treaty. If you’re interested in protecting the environment and helping the world’s poor, says Lomborg, there are cheaper and more-effective ways to reach those goals.”

    Lomborg must be one of “They.”

    1. The food was inedible and there wasn’t enough of it!

  9. Hmm… the government subsidized coal and oil and legal actions by citizens for damaged caused by pollution were limited by government.

    Imagine if the government did not subsidize coal and oil, so when he price of oil went sky high in the 1970’s alternate energy sources could have been sought by the free market. Imagine if coal was not subsidized by government for many years, so when people did not want their air filled with pollution, they sought alternate energy sources. Imagine if the government allowed violation of property rights and personal injury from pollution to be claims to go after polluters and made pollution super expensive, so companies sought alternate energy sources.

    Nope, we had the crook Nixon make government bigger, establish a government agency (EPA) that still has hundreds of Superfund sites that are not cleaned up (thanks to DOE and DoD).

  10. Hmmm, Steve Chapman. You obviously haven’t researched the factual evidence before yet more anti-Trump polemics. See the Cato article at:

    http://www.cato.org/blog/you-ought-ha…..-agreement

    Then there’s the Personal Liberty article which even quotes James Hansen, the father of global awareness of climate change and former NASA scientist, who called the Paris accord “a fraud, a fake? absolute bulls**t” in the wake of its signing in 2012. see:

    https://personalliberty.com/trump-cause-end-world/

    Do you implicitly believe the IPCC no matter how it slants its reports, ignores its experts and falsifies its findings? It’s disappointing to see scientific evidence simply ignored at Reason because it contradicts deeply held but inherently contradictory beliefs.

  11. Back in 2009, NRO columnist Kevin Williamson broke down the global warming claims as follows:

    “The planet is getting warmer, human activity is a main factor, the consequences will be catastrophic, and some U.N.-style climate policeman is going to be able to manage a mitigating response ? in an economically efficient manner that also is consistent with our political liberties and national sovereignties.”

    He said that we need to divide the issues (and that paragraph) up into what we agree with:
    1. The planet is getting warmer
    2. Human Activity is the main factor
    3. The consequences will be catastrophic
    4. UN climate cops are going to be able to manage the mitigating responses
    5. That will be done in an economically and efficient manner
    6. That will be done without violating our political liberties and national sovereignty.

    The Paris Agreement forces us to swallow that entire paragraph whole.

    Does anyone actually believe that Paris will accomplish steps 4-6? And at what cost to us?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.