Beyond parody

NYT editorial:

Trump Imperils the Planet – Endangered species, climate change – the administration is taking the country, and the world, backward.

It’s hard to believe but it was only three years ago this month — just after 7 p.m., Paris time, Dec. 12, to be precise — that delegates from more than 190 nations, clapping and cheering, whooping and weeping, rose to celebrate the Paris Agreement — the first genuinely collective response to the mounting threat of global warming. It was a largely aspirational document, without strong legal teeth and achieved only after contentious and exhausting negotiations. But for the first time in climate talks stretching back to 1992, it set forth specific, numerical pledges from each country to reduce emissions so that together they could keep atmospheric temperatures from barreling past a point of no return.

Two weeks ago, delegates met at a follow-up conference in Katowice, Poland, to address procedural questions left unsettled in Paris, including common accounting mechanisms and greater transparency in how countries report their emissions. In this the delegates largely succeeded, giving rise to the hope, as Brad Plumer put it in The Times, that “new rules would help build a virtuous cycle of trust and cooperation among countries, at a time when global politics seems increasingly fractured.”

But otherwise it was a hugely dispiriting event and a fitting coda to one of the most discouraging years in recent memory for anyone who cares about the health of the planet — a year marked by President Trump’s destructive, retrograde policies, by backsliding among big nations, by fresh data showing that carbon dioxide emissions are still going up, by ever more ominous signs (devastating wildfires and floods, frightening scientific reports) of what a future of unchecked greenhouse gas emissions is likely to bring.

The conference itself showcased the very fossil fuels that scientists and most sentient people agree the world must rapidly wean itself from. Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, set the tone by declaring he had no intention of abandoning coal, which provides nearly four-fifths of Poland’s electricity. The United States and three other major oil producers — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Russia — refused to endorse an alarming report issued in October by the United Nations scientific panel on climate change calling for swift reductions in fossil fuel use by 2030 to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, which it said were approaching much faster than anyone had thought.

Wells Griffith, Mr. Trump’s international energy and climate adviser, managed in one quote to summarize the dismissiveness of the American delegation and its fealty to the president’s apparently unshakable conviction that anything that helps the environment must inevitably hurt the economy. “The United States has an abundance of natural resources and is not going to keep them in the ground,” he said. “We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice their economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability.” The administration is full of zero-sum philosophers like Mr. Griffith. The idea that sustainability may be a necessary condition of future economic growth appears never to have crossed their minds.

Further depressing the proceedings were recent defections and political troubles in countries that, along with the United States, had been expected to lead the way to a low-carbon energy future. Germany, which long ago walked away from carbon-free nuclear power, is having a hard time cutting back on coal because of political opposition. In Australia, a prime minister was kicked out of office because he wanted to reduce the use of coal, which Australia produces in abundance. China, despite admirably aggressive investments in wind and solar power, has yet to get a firm grip on its emissions from coal-fired plants. The new president-elect of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, not only named an outspoken climate-change denier as his foreign minister but also, reversing his predecessors’ policy, pledged to open up the Amazon to mining and farming. This will threaten biodiversity in one of the world’s great rain forests while crippling its ability to act as a sink for carbon emissions.

Can’t you just hear the tut-tutting by the very PC editorial board? We would very much like to know if these paragons of knowledge and virtue can answer a very simple question. As you know, the question is this: to the nearest one percent, how much CO2 is in one thousand parts of the air we breathe?

As you also know, the answer is zero. We would bet quite a lot that the members of the editorial board who can answer the question correctly is – wait for it – also zero. HT: AT

One Response to “Beyond parody”

  1. feeblemind Says:

    Yep. Trump is President Boogeyman, the object of hate fear and loathing by the Left.

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