Saturday, June 3, 2017


Sandra has noted, critically, that I have not condemned Trump's exit from the Paris Accords. What is interesting about the Accords is why some people are so passionate about them. The basic American objection--and mine--is that it is a treaty Obama structured to enact by dodging the constitutional requirements for treaties. I think that wrong. The motives--arrogance, elitism, vision of higher good--are interesting and instructive but not as important to me as preserving the country's foundational laws. So I oppose the effort to side-step the basic, clear rules that make the democracy up. 

Foreigners in European capitals may have no real interest--or knowledge--of that objection but, if they will excuse me, this is my country. Our rules are important to me. 

They may be entirely concerned with the practical problems of global warming and willing to do anything to improve matters. Accepting that as their motive, what do the Accords actually do? The most complimentary assessment I have read is that it brought nations together for a common and important cause. The effectiveness of that effort is not in question. But it should be.
The debate over global warming centers on several elements. The earth seems to be warming, how do we measure that, what are the factors and how can we, if possible, influence the process?

Current political belief is that the climate is changing, not through regular and natural processes but rather as the side effect of  human activity, particularly as the result of carbon fuel use. The data has been argued over but computer models have been developed to predict the future effect and they are dire. The problem is that many do not think the data accurate and, more import, the models using that data to predict future activity have not been correct. That raises questions--reasonable questions--as to the accuracy of the original data and/or the models based upon them. 

The second objection is the Procrustean distortions the Accords go through to accommodate the various signers. Nations are to assess themselves on their progress, progress which is very different for each nation, and culturally based. So China continues to build coal-fire plants at the rate on one a week. Nor is there any enforcement program. Nor is their a mechanism approved for the nations to use; that is said to be coming.

One definite position is that carbon as an energy source will have to go, certainly in the next generation and a half. All of the power of transportation, temperature and information will have to come from a new source, a source we do not have or use. An entirely new power source for humanity will have to be invented, developed and put into service to replace the abundant and cheap carbon power we use now. If one is worried about disorder, imagine the effect of turning off the world's industrial carbon power switch without an adequate, affordable replacement.

And this effort will have to be financed, financed by someone.

This may look like a good plan to Europe but, constitutional objections aside, it looks like a lousy idea to me. It doesn't look like an idea at all; it looks like a wish. And, somehow, my bet is that we, more than anyone, will be financially responsible for this long term project.
Actually, this looks like a placebo, therapy whose benefit depends upon the optimism of the participants. And an unending series of proclamations, good ideas, unasked for leadership, interventions and great dinners for the participant ruling class that will go on and on as a make-work project for the rich forever.

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