The buzz: this week’s hot topic
End of the world starts in Paris
The Paris climate accord is not a treaty – it is what in an earlier era would have been called a “gentlemen’s agreement.” Countries of the world agree on their own goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and then decide for themselves how and if to meet them.
There is no penalty for non-compliance. The world’s biggest polluters are free to keep polluting, if they choose, and the world’s richest economies are free to bankrupt themselves trying to comply, if they choose. If everyone does exactly what they are supposed to, it appears that global temperatures might decrease half-a-degree Celsius.
It was a promise made by one man and one man alone – President Obama – and undone by one man and one man alone – President Trump. Agreeing to the accord didn’t mean much in the real world, and dumping it means little.
So why all the hysteria over a feel-good, do-nothing program from people who claim the world is about to end? “Trump just declared war on the very idea of life on earth,” tweeted Trita Parsi. “He will have the death of whole nations on his hands,” said Mark Ruffalo.
Partly it is because climate change has become almost a religion among the left. It’s “science is settled” dictates must be take on faith and never questioned. And partly it is because a Republican named Donald Trump – both are important – is the one questioning the orthodoxy. This is a promise made to his base and a giant rejection of globalism. Populism has claimed the day.
Of course, Trump is not an ideologue, and he has two years before he can formally “withdraw” from the accord, so there is every chance he will change his mind. He does love a good deal. Wonder how the outrage machine would handle that?