President Donald Trump made a statement from the White House on June 1st that the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris climate change agreement. There are many strong opinions on either side of this argument; however in my mind only one side of this argument has the majority of facts and evidence to back up its claims. President Trump stated, “The United States under the Trump administration will continue to be the cleanest and most environmentally friendly country on earth. We’ll be the cleanest. We’ll have the cleanest air. We’re going to have the cleanest water. We are going to be environmentally friendly, but we’re not going to put our businesses out of work, and we’re not going to lose our jobs. We’re going to grow.” Trump’s actions and policies show the exact opposite of this occurring all throughout the government. The appointment of Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency, the removal of several environmental protection actions that were introduced by previous administrations, and the administration’s steadfast intention of trying to revitalize the coal industry is doing the exact opposite of what Trump stated when he withdrew from the Paris climate accord.
Scott Pruitt, who is an ardent climate change denier, has backed the withdrawal from the Paris climate accord saying, “We’ve had over 50,000 … coal jobs, mining jobs created in this country” in the last few months. “This president’s deregulation agenda, particularly in the energy space, is making a substantial impact around the country.” Not only is this statement a flat out lie, it also exposes the problem of trying to revert back to what is quickly becoming and outdated industry. According to the most recent data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are a TOTAL of 51,000 jobs in the coal mining industry. Four hundred jobs were created in the industry in May, or about 0.3%. Pruitt is deliberately misleading in his statement about job creation. This is clearly an effort to make the withdrawal from the accord seem like the right choice and to help energize Trump’s base. Pruitt stated this false claim on a number of different news broadcasts over the past few days. The coal industry, much like many others before it will slowly be phased out and drawn down as newer and more effecting technologies become available. This should be embraced and planned for by the government and industry, not fought against tooth and nail.
Scott Pruitt had this to say on climate change during a CNBC interview in march; “I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do, and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” Trump himself has been an ardent climate change denier since 2011. He has tweeted 115 times about climate changed according to Vox. Some of these tweets include “It’s extremely cold in NY & NJ—not good for flood victims. Where is global warming?”; We can’t destroy the competitiveness of our factories in order to prepare for nonexistent global warming. China is thrilled with us!”; and “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” As is standard with Trump, he frequently and for no reason changes his mind on things. In November of 2016 trump stated he did believe humans had an effect on climate change he just wasn’t sure to what extent, and Nikki Haley also stated in a recent interview with Jake Tapper that Trump does believe in climate change and that humans have a role in it. Pruitt has never wavered from his climate denier position, Trump seems to waver depending on who will give him the most attention and approval for his views. What the president’s actual thoughts are on the matter we will most likely never know.
Authors of seven climate consensus studies — including Naomi Oreskes, Peter Doran, William Anderegg, Bart Verheggen, Ed Maibach, J. Stuart Carlton, and John Cook — co-authored a paper that should settle the expert climate consensus question once and for all. The two key conclusions from the paper are: 1. Depending on exactly how you measure the expert consensus, it’s somewhere between 90% and 100% that agree humans are responsible for climate change, with most studies finding 97% consensus among publishing climate scientists. 2. The greater the climate expertise among those surveyed, the higher the consensus on human-caused global warming.
Here is what some of the leading scientific associations have to say about climate change;
- American Association for the Advancement of Science
- “The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society.” (2006)3
- American Chemical Society
- “Comprehensive scientific assessments of our current and potential future climates clearly indicate that climate change is real, largely attributable to emissions from human activities, and potentially a very serious problem.” (2004)4
- American Geophysical Union
- “Human‐induced climate change requires urgent action. Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes.” (Adopted 2003, revised and reaffirmed 2007, 2012, 2013)5
- American Medical Association
- “Our AMA … supports the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fourth assessment report and concurs with the scientific consensus that the Earth is undergoing adverse global climate change and that anthropogenic contributions are significant.” (2013)6
- American Meteorological Society
- “It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide.” (2012)
All throughout the climate denier argument and the argument against the Paris accords they speak of China taking advantage of American industry and business, yet many of these same businesses spoke out in favor of the Paris accords. Many of the largest and most powerful companies in the US were taking full page ads out in the New York Times trying to influence Trump not to remove the US from the agreement. Even the Oil and Gas industries spoke out in favor of the accords, saying that at least it would allow for the US to have more input on future drilling and exploration initiatives. If anything, by withdrawing from the accords and making statements to the effect of bringing back coal power and revitalizing that sector, Trump is giving China the exact advantage that he is pulling out of the accords for in the first place. By making renewable energy, which is a growing and cutting edge industry, he is giving all of our competitors a chance to gain a foothold in that market and become the innovators in that technology while we get left behind. Emmanuel Marcon, the French president recently had this to say in response to the withdrawal from the accords “To all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision of the president of the United States, I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland,” Macron said. “I call on them, come and work here with us to work together on concrete solutions for our climate, our environment. I can assure you France will not give up the fight.”
Despite all of this advice and polls that estimated that 70% of Americans were in favor of the Paris accords, Trump stuck to his campaign slogans and began the proceedings to remove the US from the agreement. Trump’s arguments against the accord all fall apart when you look at the specifics of the treaty and the flexibility each country is given to try and reduce their own emissions and reach any self-imposed C02 emission guidelines.
This withdrawal has had an immediate effect on relationships with many of our closest allies and has once again eroded the power and influence that the US has across the world. The only two other countries to withdraw from the deal are Syria and Nicaragua. The latter because they felt the deal didn’t go far enough in stopping global warming and the former because they are embroiled in a civil war. Not exactly the best company to be in when it comes to climate change. The reasons for Trumps withdrawal make no sense and as far as I can tell produce no appreciable benefit for the United States or the workers that Trump seems to champion all the time. On the reverse side of that Trump’s action has had a serious effect on the international stage and serves to further strain relations with our closest allies. The impact of this one decision could have far reaching consequences that we can’t even begin to guess. Only time will tell how much of a negative impact this decision will have, the only certainty is that the impact will indeed be negative, not only for the country as a whole but for the planet and all 7 billion people that live here.