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Optics My Dear Boy
The Placebo Politics of Paris
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  • rheddles

    Trump’s decision today doesn’t make the U.S. better off, but it probably doesn’t make us much worse off, either.

    So there were no costs associated with the Paris Treaty? Foolish.

  • Arkeygeezer

    Chalk up one more campaign promise fulfilled.

  • Andrew Allison

    Actually, it’s quite clear that President Trump’s decision makes the US better off — the US had committed to do things which the other signatories had only promised to consider. Furthermore, given TAI’s long-standing position that the agreement was meaningless, giving credence to Chait’s BS is just another example of TDS.

    • D4x

      Yes, quoting Chait to accomplish moral equivalency between the two political parties is still TDS. Jason’s belief that “conservative politics offered more substantive policy solutions and less tribal signaling.” proves he just does not understand that more policy is not the conservative solution to rewinding the Imperial Presidency and Regulatory Clerisy back to 1989, if we get lucky.
      Truly weird to see the Sanctuary Cities trying to nullify this. Since I finished McPherson’s “Battle Cry of Freedom”, now reading Meacham’s 2012 “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power”. No ‘tribal signalling’ so far 🙂

  • CaliforniaStark

    The Paris Climate Agreement was inherently unfair to the U.S. As Trump pointed out, the agreement did not require China to cut carbon emissions until 2030, and India’s involvement was contingent on being provided billions of dollars in aid. A supporter of the Paris Treaty blogged : “Context: US got a head start on the road to industrialization. These nations are now catching up. Holding them to same timeline is unfair.”

    The effect of this “catching up” provision in the agreement would be to allow industries to continue to emit unlimited greenhouse gas emissions in China and India, while regulating the same type of industries in the U.S., often out of existence. A substantial amount of the U.S. industrial base would move to China, India and other countries not subject to the Paris Treaty; further contributing to the de-industrialization of the American industrial heartland. We should be thankful that Trump has moved to end this nonsense.

    • Eli Rabett

      Except that China and India are NOT waiting until 2030 but are taking action NOW with, for example, China stopping construction of many coal burners. So the question is why are you so misinformed?

      • Jim__L

        Hm, for every coal burner China stops construction on, how many others does it start?

        Making the numbers dance is an area of great expertise for Chinese officials — has been from Mao’s time.

      • Tom Scharf

        Why are you so misinformed?

        China Burns Much More Coal Than Reported, Complicating Climate Talks
        https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/04/world/asia/china-burns-much-more-coal-than-reported-complicating-climate-talks.html

      • SLEcoman

        For the Paris Agreement, India committed to limiting their CO2 emissions increase to no more than THREE times their current level.

      • SLEcoman

        It isn’t the existence coal-fired power plant capacity that creates CO2 emissions, it’s the operation of the coal-fired power plants that create CO2 emissions. Operating fewer plants at higher capacity factor, can yield the same, or even more, CO2 emissions. China’s coal consumption appears to be flat (i.e. following their massive correction in coal consumption – Tom Scharf’s comment below). I would also point out that people got fooled last year when China’s NRDC reduced the allowed operating days for China’s coal mines to 276, that China was reducing coal consumption. Ah contrare, the NRDC reduced coal production so inventory overhang would decrease, causing domestic coal prices to increase. Domestic coal prices had been too low, threatening the ability of China’s coal miners to make debt payments; much of this debt is held by provincial governments. However, the NDRC waited too long to end the coal mining restrictions, and China was forced to dramatically increase coal imports. Coal prices skyrocketed, not only in China, but in the international seaborne market. Rising coal prices caused power generators to increase power rates. The higher power rates hurt Chinese manufacturers’ competitive position. This illustrates the problem for politicians in developing countries, especially economies relying heavily on traditional manufacturing. The competitiveness of their manufacturing sector depends significantly on power cost and dependability. And coal-fired power generation provides the lowest cost source of dependable power for much of the developing world.

  • Matt_Thullen

    While this is a good observation, I think that what conservatives are reacting against isn’t smug liberalism. It’s the current belief in elite/progressive circles that if enough people publicly state their belief in something, that something becomes real. It’s the political version of the Tinkerbell effect.

    The elite Tinkerbell effect explains a lot of political correctness, and why anyone who dares publicly disagree with the consensus on topics such as gender identity, affirmative action, police brutality and so on has to be vehemently and publicly pilloried by the mob. It’s why anyone–including respected climate scientists–who disagree with global warming scenarios are denounced, threatened with funding cuts, and threatened with criminal investigation. It’s why those who disagree with Europe’s refugee policies are swiftly denounced as racists. Look at any topic where there is elite consensus, and you will see that any public voice that questions that consensus is rarely engaged, and almost always vilified.

    Thus the right sees what Trump is doing as not trolling, but akin to the little boy who pointed out that the emperor wasn’t wearing any clothes. He’s the truth-teller that forces everyone else to finally face reality.

    • Tom

      It would be nice if he was actually wearing pants himself, but you’ve got a lot of his appeal pretty well down.
      He’s the guy who says “Hey, you’re having problems”–and even though he oftentimes exaggerates what those problems are, he’s at least saying that there’s a problem, and when it seems like no one else is saying that, a lot of people who see similar problems will overlook any…incongruities with reality.

      • Boritz

        Well yeah. If you kick a dog enough times it will eventually cower in the corner and any kindness shown to it will be appreciated.

    • Andrew Allison

      Yes, the progressive elite, in the best tradition of Fascism, is convinced that “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” (Goebbles). The AGW scam must have him chortling in his grave.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Donald Trump is the truth teller. This is how we diagnose people who have been utterly and completely brainwashed. It’s a “signal” diagnostic question. Is Donald Trump “THE” truth teller? Is he speaking to or about an identifiable “emperor? Does the metaphor with an old tale here really fit anything in reality?

      • Jim__L

        The Imperial Elites have done their best to silence everyone else on this subject. (“Denier! You should be fined or imprisoned, and certainly fired from any job that naturally belongs to elites!”)

        There are a huge number of truth-tellers here. Trump is the one that won the bully pulpit, that’s all.

      • Tom Scharf

        The establishment and academia stopped listening and decided they knew all the answers and required no input. Let them eat cake. There is no need to vote on Paris, right? Why? The attempt to justify and sell this agreement to the public didn’t really start until yesterday.

        If it takes someone as rough around the edges as Trump to signal that the public doesn’t want a small group in the establishment unilaterally making decisions on things like the Paris Accords, then so be it. The message can’t be any clearer, is anyone listening?

        • FriendlyGoat

          “The public” is a flock of sheep. Slight majorities of it will follow absolutely anything at any given moment. The question is always about the veracity of what those slight majorities are following at a point in time. “Rough around the edges” does not speak to whether DJT is “THE” truth teller. Neither does his “base”, even if it is 51%.

          • Tom Scharf

            That’s how democracy works, it’s not always pretty for either side. However treaty ratification requires a 2/3 majority in the Senate and this super majority avoids the 51/49, 49/51 wobbling you would get otherwise. It makes treaties stick. It is Obama’s decision to avoid this that was central to its downfall.

            The attitude from the establishment that the public is a flock of wandering sheep couldn’t be any clearer to the sheep. In our world though the sheep get to vote.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Your side cannot write a treaty with 194 other nations on this subject (possibly not any subject going forward) which ratifies with 2/3 Senate support either. The climate doesn’t wait, though. You’re either right or you’re not.

          • Tom Scharf

            Then.we.can’t.have.an.agreement.on.climate.change. It’s hard. If you are going to give the Senate economic poison pills then it likely won’t pass, and it shouldn’t pass.

            Your version is to not even try for an agreement and make unilateral decisions that affect everybody. Why on earth do you think your side has that authority? Alleged moral superiority? How about my side unilaterally decides your side pays all the bills?

            With both Kyoto and to a lesser extent Paris the US is asked to sign up to lots of financial pain while others get to wait decades or are rewarded financially for simply signing on. It’s a bad deal. The climate guilt obsessed may want to self-immolate on the global stage to impress their peers, but the rest of us do not.

            Go get a better deal or find a better way to convince others.

          • f1b0nacc1

            I have asked FG for clarification (above), as I hope he really doesn’t mean what it looks like he just said. I am concerned, however that he DOES mean it, which is perhaps worrying, but I suppose should be almost funny as the standard accusation from the Left against those that disagree with them is that they are ‘fascists’…

          • FriendlyGoat

            It’s not up to me to get a better deal. I’m not on the side which broke the present deal, and I’m not one of the elected officials stuck with “actual responsibility” for this. The “better deal” onus is now on the Bannon Groupies who think that their United States should be controlled by that grizzled spinner. Once again, you’re either right or you’re not. Our kids and grandkids will be nearer the action in making a determination of how “smart” the American politics of 2017 were. Seriously, we are in the period where “Who Cares—-I’ll be dead anyway” is running the American show. But, the earth goes on.

          • Tom Scharf

            There wasn’t a “deal” in the US. I don’t know how more clearly to say this. Trump walked out on a deal nobody ever voted on except Obama. This is like saying there was a deal on the Muslim ban.

            Spare me the “woe is my child” routine. Go read the IPCC and if you find imminent catastrophe in there, let me know. I haven’t.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Since I am often accused of misrepresenting what you say, let me make sure that I am clear on this. You suggest that there are some issues (in this case AGW) that are so important, and that the solutions to these problems are so contentious (getting 194 nations, including states like China, India, and Russia to agree), that we should put aside ‘the technicalities of the US Constitution’?

            Just who decides what these issues are, and whether or not these solutions make sense? Whether you wish to believe this or not, there are principled disagreements about whether or not AGW is a problem, or if it is, how best to cope with it. Even if there were no disagreements, do you really propose that anytime we have a serious enough problem, we simply dispense with the Constitution in order to make the solutions to that problem work? Do you not see where this leads?

          • FriendlyGoat

            I don’t think that our attempt to herd the world together for a purpose at Paris was killing the U.S. Constitution or the broader USA in the first place. Most of what is going on here is nothing but swiping at Obama and thinking it will sell as well worldwide as in the center of red Kansas or red central Missouri. “Where this leads” is the United States of America looking unreliable by anyone for anything.

            As for AGW, it either IS more important than our treaty rules because the AGW worriers are correct, or it IS NOT more important because the AGW skeptics are correct. There is nothing about a 2/3 Senate approval which makes either of those positions right or wrong.
            And, it’s worth remembering that the Constitutional writers did not have the faintest idea in the eighteenth century of what might need world cooperation.

            We could have gone to their meetings and put them into fits of confusion. Wait! What’s a germ? Hold it! Airplane? What the hell is that? (It’s a big thing that flies on fossil fuel.) What’s fossil fuel?

            I could go on here, but I need to do stuff besides entertain you and the gang. Later.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Your first point makes little sense. If the US is to be bound to the Paris agreement (i.e. if it is something that we cannot back out of, and must abide by the provisions of), then it is a treaty, and must be approved by the Senate. If it is an executive agreement (which is the reasoning used by Obama…his words, not mine) and thus doesn’t require Senate approval, then a different executive (Trump) can reach a different agreement, or no agreement at all. There isn’t a ton of debate on this in terms of the legal ramifications of the choice. It is either a treaty (and thus has the force of law) or it isn’t (and thus doesn’t). That isn’t swiping at Obama, except perhaps to condemn his rather situational reasoning in terms of what the executive can or cannot do. The founders created a limited government, and left more than enough documentary evidence behind (not only in the form of the Constitution but the Federalist Papers, the personal writings of the various founders etc.) that leave very little doubt as to their intentions. If you choose to ignore this, then in fact you are in fact killing the Constitution or the central idea of what the US is in the first place.

            Regarding your second point, the key to the Senate’s approval of any treaty is in fact some assessment of what ‘matters’. If you can convince 2/3rds of the Senate that AGW matters, then you can have your treaty. If not, you cannot. This was in fact the express intention of the Founders, and to pretend that you can simply point to some cherry-picked wise men to override that mechanism when *YOU* think it is important is precisely the problem that the founders were attempting to overcome with the notion of limited, divided government in the first place. If you honestly believe that when the right people come to a decision (‘right’ in this case seems to mean people that agree with you), then you don’t need a Senate, a SCOTUS, or in fact anything other than those ‘right’ people….i.e. a monarchy, which was precisely what the Revolution was all about in the first place.

            The tired old chestnut about ‘eighteenth century thinkers’? Is that the best you can come up with? The whole point of everything that they wrote about was that they (and their descendants, about who they wrote extensively) would face problems that they couldn’t possibly anticipate, and would require action (or lack of action) by the people as a whole, not simply some self-appointed group of grandees. The whole point of limited government and divided government (i.e. the three branches, separation of powers, etc.) was that this would prevent the decision making process being monopolized by small incestuous group of possibly ignorant thinkers without any sort of recourse to the community as a whole. Put simply, the founders designed government the way they did out of humility, out of a clear understanding that they DIDN’T have all the answers and that there would inevitably come questions about which they couldn’t know enough to comment. It is the process that matters here, and they knew that….

            You wish to hand over power to make decisions of this sort to an unelected group of self-defined elites, and to hell with those that don’t share that understanding. I wonder if you are just as willing to hand over that power to groups that don’t share YOUR priorities on various issues? If you cannot make your case to the populace as a whole (and you cannot), then why should we simply sit down and shut up? Who appointed you (or your designated wise men) the final answer? Are you willing to submit YOUR priorities to the same discipline?

            It seems that you are nothing more than a reactionary royalist, who simply wants the peasants to submit without argument.

      • Matt_Thullen

        “The truth teller”? I just re-read what I posted and I’m having trouble finding that phrase. Perhaps you may want to look up the meaning of the word “akin.” What I said is that conservatives don’t see the withdrawal from Paris as trolling but as acknowledging that there is very little there there in the global warming crusades.

        You seem to be ignoring the bigger point, which is that our progressive elite are even worse than Trump is at telling the truth. To take one small example, we are currently being told that there are scads and scads of genders, that what a person believes about their gender is the truth, and that men can get pregnant and breastfeed.

        I’m curious if you believe that it is possible for a human man to get pregnant. Science says no, liberalism says yes. What say you?

        • FriendlyGoat

          1) Donald Trump is not remotely “akin” to a truth-teller.

          2) I would doubt men can get pregnant and breastfeed (unless completely restructured with massive transplant and hormone interventions, and even that seems totally unlikely to me—–but TV once invited us to believe in a Six-Million-Dollar Man so who knows?). As a boy, there was never a time I wanted to be a girl and I’m as grateful for that as for being born with no serious birth defects. Ditto orientation. I always liked girls and only girls. But, I have become aware that other people have other experiences and other struggles with all of this. I have no interest in putting them down, calling them sinners, calling them queers, or yelling “get away from me” at them. If they are kind, I want to be kind in return——period. One of the straightest guys I knew as a youngster, a close friend, a real “what-you-see-is what-you-get” guy had a gay little brother. We all knew by the time the younger one was 10-12 that he was way (way) different. No one knew why. That was about 1965. One of the boys I wrestled with in HS gym class grew up gay (which we really didn’t know until years later). I really liked him as a kid, because all he ever seemed to want was to “do right” and treat people well. Again, I don’t know why he had the feelings or needs he had. It was what it was. We all still watch Gomer Pyle and Perry Mason—-long since outed in a more tolerant time. We are not crazy for just coming to grips with these things and judging people on other factors—–such as their capacities for friendship..

          • Matt_Thullen

            That was a very lengthy way of avoiding answering the question, which was a straightforward one (and not about whether we should persecute gay people). You can’t even bring yourself to admit that men cannot get pregnant, because that conflicts with your political beliefs. That in and of itself gives the answer.

            It also explains the appeal of a person like Trump. The vast majority of people in this country would rather deal with a bar stool BS artist like Trump than ideological liars like most progressives. The former tells lies to try and impress people about themselves, and if you don’t believe the stories, you are free to both like or dislike the person or trust them to do a job. I kind of don’t care if my accountant tells me that he was a former Green Beret who used to date supermodels so long as he does a decent job of my taxes. If you don’t believe such a person, they usually don’t make it a priority to destroy your life by getting your fired, getting as many people to hate you, or otherwise bring ruin to you.

            That’s not the case with ideological liars who cannot even bring themselves to admit scientific truth if it conflicts with their ideological beliefs. If you disagree with them, they will try to destroy you for even publicly questioning their beliefs, as events on campus of late have demonstrated. For a more on point example regarding global warming, remember that many Democratic AGs wanted to criminally prosecute scientists–scientists that study global warming for a living–for publicly disagreeing with the “consensus”.

          • FriendlyGoat

            1) I have never even HEARD a claim by anyone (other than you here) that men might be able to get pregnant. I told you I seriously doubt it. It is NOT a part of my orthodoxy. I am not trying to defend whoever claims it. I think you’re nuts for even bringing it up here.
            So please don’t pin that tail on this donkey. It ain’t mine. It is not anything I peddle, defend or care about, capiche?

            2) There was no “vast majority” of people in this country who voted for Donald Trump to be their “bar stool BS artist” as President of the United States. He barely lost the popular vote and even more barely won the electoral college.

            3) I actually was an accountant in the private sector for 24 years. Aside from preparing taxes, they prepare financial statements which are expected to fairly state the financial position of the company (or other client) in all material respects. Accountants are expected to find the truth and tell the truth. This background is the reason I am not a Republican even though I was raised in a right-wing locale and worked in a right-wing locale as an adult. You can’t be an accountant and just go spinning bullsh*t about all the real economic issues facing Americans of every stripe. I’m not gonna do it—ever.
            If you want to find someone to flip in political ideology, I’m not him.

  • Unelected Leader

    The non-binding piece of garbage aka Paris Climate Accord was little more than yet another surrender by the US to corruptocrats in the EU and China. Total, unmitigated garbage. Trump deserves praise today, so long as he doesn’t sign on to some slightly lesser garbage later.

  • Gary Hemminger

    This analysis is probably the best piece that I have read in a long time. It is completely on the mark.

  • Tom Scharf

    This one nails it completely, I found myself cheering and jeering in equal measure.

    A symbolic agreement was symbolically jettisoned. Everyone gets to pat themselves on the back and rage at the incompetents on the other side. Emotional crack.

  • Matt Book

    Stepping out of this agreement is a worthwhile move to not bind ourselves to fiction. Being part of this treaty gives moral sanction to lying and empty gestures and emboldens people to push for something even more idiotic. Keeping up appearances is a pretty shabby policy goal, and the opprobrium of the unserious is not something a real leader should fear. Also, does anybody think China or India would ever abide by these terms when 2030 comes around? I’m sure they see this as an excellent way to hobble the already blinkered West even more.

  • Angel Martin

    I know this was a great decision because all the self-regarding progressive elite are “outraged” by it.

  • Fat_Man

    “Trump’s decision today doesn’t make the U.S. better off”

    Oh yes it does. Anything that removes the power and legitimacy of “smug establishment indulged in vacuous, photo-op politics that doesn’t get us any closer to solving our major problems” will allow us to work on the real problems that affect people’s lives, like declining economic productivity, the lurch towards national insolvency, sclerotic institutions, like health care, judicial legal, and education. All of which involve attacking the institutional basis of the governing elite.

  • QET

    Matt Thullen’s reference to Tinkerbell as the tutelary deity of progressives is spot on. I would call attention to the emotion, the passion with which progressives and the Left generally invest the climate change issue. The character of Mulder on the X-Files had a poster in his office of a UFO with the caption I Want to Believe. This desire for the worst, most extreme predictions of the AGW industry is what characterizes climate change zealots. Their belief is sufficiently plagued by doubt which they at great psychic effort suppress that they react violently to those who hold the doubt up and insist it be looked at squarely. I mean, the recent scientific evidence that challenges the old scientific “consensus” that a fat-rich diet is the source of so many evils has not produced any such passionate denunciation or reaction; no city mayors getting up on their horses and proclaiming that theircities will continue to oppose fatty foods.

    So it is necessary to see the reaction to Trump’s action as based in desire and not in cold analytical intellect, making it necessary to inquire into the basis of this desire. Why is it that the climate change people so dearly and violently want the catastrophic predictions to be true? This is an eternal puzzle. Why did so many people drink Jim Jones’ kool-aid? Rational fear cannot be the answer, for fear would cling to even the most slender reed of contrary science. No, it is a matter of thwarted will. Only thwarted will produces the kind of frenzied behavior that we are seeing. The entire climate change matter long ago exited the scientific arena and has now become simply and solely a contest of wills.

  • Beauceron

    I hardly ever read something where I agree with all of most of it.
    I think this post pretty much hits the nail on the head.

  • Eli Rabett

    To quote Gavin Schmidt, what Paris provides is

    1. Recognition that a global problem requires global action to combat it

    2. Confidence building that undermines ‘free rider’ problems

    3. Mechanisms for sharing best practices and technology

    4. Ratcheting of ambition as possible

    5. Leadership opportunities that pay dividends

    • Jim__L

      All irrelevant if you pay attention to the numbers as to how significant a greenhouse gas CO2 actually is, and how unreliable climate models are that claim to make a connection between catastrophic (or even mild) global warming, and CO2’s miniscule contributions.

    • Tom Scharf

      Great, let’s take out all the bad parts out (climate fund, timing of sacrifice, etc.) and renegotiate. It was the arrogant intentional structuring of the agreement to avoid a US consensus building exercise that doomed it. Agreements that aren’t agreed on tend to have little staying power. If you are not willing to do the hard work, then don’t expect to be rewarded.

      The unnecessary antagonizing and belittling of climate change opponents has come home to roost. Enjoy.

      • Eli Rabett

        The only things the US is pledged to do is to report on its progress against goals it set unilaterally. Where did you get your ideas from

  • markterribile

    The Paris agreement is, in simple words, a lie. It should humiliate all involved. Repudiating it is an overdue act of integrity.

  • Ulysses4033

    “Honest champions of the accord admit that it may be more or less ineffectual when it comes to solving climate change, but argue that
    leaving would impose costs on American credibility. This is not an unreasonable argument; it may even be vindicated in the wake of Trump’s decision.” What does it say for this argument that “American credibility” is based on “the global elite whose ‘polite fictions, agreed-upon conventions and hypocritical pretenses’ seem in many arenas to be unraveling”? Is this not arguing for honoring those fictions, conventions, and pretenses regardless of the actual facts on the ground? Is this not just another argumentum ad verecundiam in disguise?

  • Ofer Imanuel

    Withdrawing from the Paris accord may have some disadvantages, but it also has 4 advantages:
    1. Rule of law – an agreement that creates substantial costs to U.S has to be ratified by the senate.
    2. Credibility – Trump promised to pull out of the Paris accord during his campaign.
    3. Clean Power cancellation – Preempting lawsuits to reinstate it due to the commitment of the Paris accord.
    4. Money – this accord is expensive, if you execute it.

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