Donald Trump’s energy plan would be catastrophic for the U.S., and for the world. (More)

“We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement”

Donald Trump has released his “America First” energy plan:

Here is my 100-day action plan:

• We’re going to rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions including the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.
• We’re going to save the coal industry and other industries threatened by Hillary Clinton’s extremist agenda.
• I’m going to ask Trans Canada to renew its permit application for the Keystone Pipeline.
• We’re going to lift moratoriums on energy production in federal areas
• We’re going to revoke policies that impose unwarranted restrictions on new drilling technologies. These technologies create millions of jobs with a smaller footprint than ever before.
• We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.
• Any regulation that is outdated, unnecessary, bad for workers, or contrary to the national interest will be scrapped. We will also eliminate duplication, provide regulatory certainty, and trust local officials and local residents.
• Any future regulation will go through a simple test: is this regulation good for the American worker? If it doesn’t pass this test, the rule will not be approved.

We’re going to do all this while taking proper regard for rational environmental concerns. We are going to conserve our beautiful natural habitats, reserves and resources.

In a Trump Administration, political activists with extreme agendas will no longer write the rules. Instead, we will work with conservationists whose only agenda is protecting nature.

From an environmental standpoint, my priorities are very simple: clean air and clean water.

Notable in its absence is any mention of climate change, because Trump because he thinks that’s a Chinese conspiracy:

Yes, really.

“The climate consequences of such a great leap backwards would be severe”

Rutgers University climate scientist Robert Kopp explains how Trump’s energy plan would be catastrophic for the U.S., and for the world:

Donald Trump’s “America First” energy plan, outlined in May and focused on expanding fossil-fuel production, would reverse these advances. Trump has promised to “cancel” the Paris climate agreement and pledged to reopen coal mines – a pledge which, given the unfavorable economics of coal mining, he could fulfill only through a massive expansion of corporate welfare for coal companies.

Backing out of the Paris Agreement would undermine U.S. leadership and stall greenhouse gas reduction efforts around the world. And expanding production of coal could return us to the pathway of rapidly rising emissions that characterized the 2000s.

The climate consequences of such a great leap backwards would be severe. Far from placing America first, they would threaten the health of Americans and of the American economy – not to mention people and economies throughout the world.

Two years ago, Dr. Kopp co-led an analysis of climate change risks. His team modeled several policy scenarios. In his current article, he labels the high-emissions scenario the Trump Trajectory and the low-emissions scenario the Paris Path. The differences are stark:

Carbon dioxide concentrations in Earth’s atmosphere will average about 404 parts per million (ppm) this year. While the Paris Path would keep them from rising above 450 ppm, the Trump Trajectory would elevate them over 550 ppm in the 2050s and – if policies consistent with rapid expansion of fossil fuel production were maintained – over 900 ppm in the 2090s.

By the middle of the century, climate models indicate that global mean temperature would likely be about 0.5°-1.6°F warmer than today under the Paris Path, but 1.6-3.1°F warmer under the Trump Trajectory. The models also show that, by the last two decades of this century, temperatures would have stabilized under the Paris Path, while the Trump Trajectory would likely be about 4.4-8.5°F warmer.

“Pennsylvanians would likely experience about as many extreme heat days as South Carolinians do today”

He puts those numbers in geographic context:

Over 1981-2010, the average American experienced highs above 95°F on about 16 days in a typical year. Based on our analysis of global climate model projections, the Paris Path would keep the likely number of such extremely hot days to about 22-31 in a typical year. Under the Trump Trajectory, they would likely increase to 27-50 days by the middle of the century and 46-96 days by its last two decades.

By the middle of the century, Pennsylvanians would likely experience about as many extreme heat days as South Carolinians do today; Coloradans nearly as many as today’s Californians; and Californians about as many as today’s Texans. And by the end of the century, the Trump Trajectory would make extremely hot and humid days similar to the worst of the 1995 Midwest heat wave – which killed over 700 people in Chicago – an annual occurrence in the eastern half of the country.

That would be both expensive and deadly:

Our analysis found that, if people respond in the future as economists and epidemiologists have observed them to respond in the past, the Trump Trajectory would by the middle of the century likely cause about 3,000 to 12,000 deaths per year in the U.S. Southeast, assuming the total population remained the same as today. By the end of the century, it would likely cause about 12,000 to 65,000 additional deaths nationally each year, again assuming total population remained the same.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control has warned that warmer winters would expand the season and range of disease-carrying insects like mosquitoes and ticks, thereby increasing the risks posed by diseases like Lyme, West Nile and Zika. Sticking to the Paris Path would greatly diminish these health risks.

“The probability that a nation will fall into civil war”

Climate change also carries national security risks:

Climate change, in the Pentagon’s phrasing, will also act as a “threat multiplier” for national security challenges. Historical experiences indicate that extremes of temperature, rainfall and drought increase the probability that a nation will fall into civil war. And as we’ve seen many times over the last couple decades – in Afghanistan and Syria most sharply – other nations’ civil wars create wounds in which threats to American security can fester.

The Department of Defense’s 2014 Quadrennial Review agrees:

Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating. These changes, coupled with other global dynamics, including growing, urbanizing, more affluent populations, and substantial economic growth in India, China, Brazil, and other nations, will devastate homes, land, and infrastructure. Climate change may exacerbate water scarcity and lead to sharp increases in food costs. The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world. These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions – conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.

Donald Trump thinks climate change is a Chinese conspiracy to shackle the U.S. economy. But he thinks the National Enquirer is a reliable news source. Peddling tabloid gossip is tacky, but ignoring climate change would be catastrophic.


Photo Credit: World Resources Sim Center


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