Donald Trump Gets Something Right


I’ve been critical of Donald Trump in the past. But just recently, he made the best decision he has yet made. Not just for Americans, but for all of us human beings.

I refer, of course, to his decision that the USA will exit the Paris climate “agreement.”

Anyone, who has looked at and understood the facts, knows that the “human emissions of carbon dioxide will cause catastrophic global warming” scare is, and always has been, a scam.

Donald Trump has got this issue right. Probably, he has done so for domestic US political reasons. But his decision has already started to echo around the world. And why? Because, all but uniquely for a politician in the last half century, he has supported truth against lies.

Well done, Donald. And all of us should follow his example.

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13 comments

  • The scare is a scam, but the problem with the underlying science isn’t that it is untrue, rather that it is incomplete. We just don’t know the truth at this point, and even if anthropogenic global warming turns out to be ill-founded (which I suspect it is), the general concerns of the environmentalists about human ecological responsibilities will remain relevant. I do think societies should be organised in line with Nature and not seek to exploit it. We are only custodians of this Earth, and unless we expand our civilisation to other planets, the Earth will outlast us. We have no right – or rather, we have no moral right – to use this planet instrumentally and turn it into a giant dustbin.

    • Tom,

      I have to disagree. Firstly, the problem with the “science” of global warming is, ultimately, that a lot of it isn’t science. Science is a way of seeking truth; and if it is to be science, it must always follow where truth leads. Yet most of what has been put forward as “climate science” does not seek truth. It seeks only to make a case that “global warming” or “climate change” is sufficient of a problem to “justify” political actions that are designed to be ruinous in their effects on ordinary people. There have been cases in climate “science” of data doctoring, of suppressing data that does not lead to the desired conclusions, of hyping papers that seem to support those conclusions (like the “hockey stick”), of attempts to shut down debate (“the science is settled”), of victimizing scientists who speak out against the politicized “consensus,” of calling those who disagree nasty names like “deniers.” As well as trying to invert the burden of proof, and to force the “deniers” to do the impossible and prove a negative.

      On your wider points, I agree that humans have responsibilities towards others, for example not to pollute others’ air or water unnecessarily, and to compensate those to whom they cause harm if such pollution is unavoidable. But such responsibilities apply equally to the environmentalists themselves. They have a responsibility not to trash our environment with bad politics. A responsibility which they have persistently failed to meet.

      And I take the view that we humans ought to organize ourselves in line with our nature; which is not at all the same thing as not exploiting the resources around us. For me, our nature is to build civilization, and those resources are there to be used – wisely – to do just that. We should be seeking to turn our planet into a comfortable home and a beautiful garden for humanity. It’s the environmentalists and the politicians that want to turn the planet into an unlivable dustbin, not us human beings.

      • Neil,

        I think I may have been slightly misunderstood. I stated in my post above that the scientific picture is incomplete and so we can’t draw conclusions one way or the other. As I state above, I suspect the anthropogenic thesis is unsupportable, but I’m not an expert and I don’t wish to offer a conclusion one way or the other, as that could only be interpreted as a political statement on my part.

        My understanding is that climate scientists only have a tiny fraction of knowledge and understanding about how climate changes over long periods of time and about what might cause this, however I do not accept that it follows that the policy responses have always been wrong. Even if it turns out that the scientific basis of anthropogenesis, such as it is, cannot be supported any longer, I still believe that we should be very careful about the impact that industrial societies have on the Earth.

        I think that when it comes to science, sometimes bets have to be hedged, and I am wary of discussions where people make partisan statements, something that doesn’t belong in science much at all. If climate science has been corrupted, I believe it has more to do with its politicisation and the media portrayal of it, which is distorting, than with the actual work being done by serious people in the field. Of course, I also acknowledge that there are scientists who are more ‘political’ than ‘scientific’ and you highlight in your post some of the problems that have arisen when experts subsume their work to a zealous agenda. The problem is that the partisan positions being taken are often binary and don’t translate well into a scientific discourse, with the result that careful scientific findings are presented in a way that supports a priori beliefs or pre-existing conclusions.

        I personally don’t consider that human responsibilities stop with other humans, or that we can somehow ‘own’ this planet we are on. As well as interpersonal responsibilities, we have ecological responsibilities too that transcend our civilisation and even the existence of our species. I take the view that these ecological priorities should not be anthropomorphic. The working assumption should be that we are only temporary custodians of the Earth and we must develop alongside Nature and in harmony with Nature. This actually goes to some of my fundamental beliefs.

        I oppose exploitation and profiteering, but that does not mean I have any problem with healthy commercial profit. If a landowner wishes to allow a contractor to mine for coal on his land and sell it in the marketplace, then that is not exploitation. If however an industrial company decides to harvest the trees of an ancient woodland or a rain forest for pulp, this may present wider issues that should be considered and maybe a court, on application from somebody in the community, should intervene to regulate how the landowner operates. Similar could be said about the more extreme case of a landowner deciding he would quite like to test a nuclear weapon on his land. That presents an ecological problem.

        When it comes to the human angle – sustainability – I think global co-operation is necessary, but it does not have to be a top-down endeavour or politicised. Probably what’s needed is a legal framework of some sort that ensures that where a polluter is disregarding agreed ecological priorities, then a stop notice can be issued and compensation paid into a remediation fund.

        • Tom,

          The difficulty when dealing with a difference of world-view – which is what you and I seem to have here – is that such differences arise at such a deep level, that they are not amenable to reasoned argument. It’s a bit like a committed Christian and an equally committed atheist each trying to convince the other that God does or doesn’t exist.

          I think one nub of our disagreement is that you talk of a “policy response” in a situation in which we have insufficient knowledge to determine whether a “policy” is even necessary. For me, no-one can sensibly formulate any kind of policy to deal with a perceived problem, unless they first have a good, objective handle on the problem. Otherwise the “policy” may turn out to have worse effects than doing nothing would have had.

          In fact, that is precisely what has happened in this situation of so called “global warming” or “climate change.” The alarmists have constantly clamoured for “Action!” “Now!” – even though the forces that drive the climate aren’t, and never have been, fully understood. The politicians, being politicians, have obliged them. And as a result, a lot of innocent people have been unjustly and unnecessarily impoverished. While many of the alarmists have done very nicely for themselves, thank you – with grants and subsidies paid for by the very people whose chances of prosperity they have ruined.

          I wonder, if you think it’s OK to make policies and to “hedge bets” in situations where there is insufficient knowledge to make a rational decision, do you also think that if the policy decision made turns out to be harmful, those that made it, promoted or supported it should be held responsible for compensating those adversely affected by it? In this situation, do you think the alarmists and their politician friends should be made to pay compensation to those who have suffered, directly or indirectly, from their alarms?

          I think that on the global warming/climate change issue, the problem of mis-representation of science has been far greater than you seem to believe. At times it has reached the stage where papers critical of the alarmist consensus haven’t got published, and where journal editors have been in danger of being fired if they do publish such papers. Meanwhile, papers that support the consensus have been rushed out and given the red carpet treatment, even if they turned out to be garbage.

          As to your examples, if someone wants to harvest a woodland or a rain forest that is their property, and that harvesting does not harm anyone else, I don’t see why they shouldn’t be allowed to do it if they want. The sane thing for them to do is whatever maximizes the long-run value of their property. The nuclear bomb example, of course, is quite different – this is an act which, if carried out, clearly would have large scale negative consequences on others, and thus there is a good case for prohibiting it.

          • I think, again, I need to clear up a possible misunderstanding about my position. I am well aware of the controversies over global warming and I know about the behaviour of some climate scientists and politicians, who became overzealous (and in some cases, still are) in their support for the anthropogenic thesis. I know that critical work has been suppressed at the political level, and at the professional-scientific level. I could hardly not know about all this, as it has been amply covered on dissident websites and what not.

            To answer a specific question, yes I think that sometimes – maybe exceptionally – a response is necessary to a problem or situation even when we don’t know all the facts. That seems fairly obvious to me. In the matter of the environment, it may be better to adopt the precautionary principle and take steps to reduce harmful impacts. This will be of benefit, even if a specific theory turns out to be mistaken.

            The reason I am wary of the generality of what you are saying is that it seems to me you are adopting a partisan position, which I don’t believe should belong in matters scientific. I suspect anthropogenic global warming is not supported by any significant evidence and it’s a political agenda, but I am wary of dismissing the theory because I know that sometimes previously discredited theories can find support when new evidence comes to light, and we are discussing here a theoretical area of the utmost practical importance. Even if it turns out that we are not having any significant effect on the Earth’s climate, we are having a significant effect on the Earth in other ways and it would sensible to take steps to make our activities more sustainable.

            That doesn’t mean I support specific measures. For instance, I disagree with policies that lead to the closure of the coal industry and domestic power stations, as I believe we need to maintain a mixed economy in energy consisting of both renewables and non-renewables, and include fossil fuels. I am not some sort of fanatical ecological masochist, in either direction. My support is for the broad rationale, which says that until we know more, we should be careful – known as the Precautionary Principle. I think this is quite reasonable.

            Regarding ecological responsibilities,first, to say that a valuable biosphere is the private property of person is to state nothing more than that person has a bundle of socially-conferred rights in that land. I am not proposing that those rights should be interfered with, but we have to consider what those ‘rights’ are (or should be). I think this comes down to how we practically interpret libertarian principles. Some, perhaps including yourself, would allow absolute sovereignty over private property. I do not believe that is practical or sensible. There will be situations where intervention is necessary to preserve something importance – a historic building, ancient woodland, a rainforest.

            I might not have made myself clear about the nuclear bomb example. It is obvious that under the framework you propose, if a nuclear weapons test might threaten the health or well-being of others, then there has to be some negotiation of property rights and possibly a judicial decision. However, my example was regarding a situation where the testing would not likely harm other people. It might take place in a very remote location. In those circumstances, I still believe there is a justification for intervention, on ecological grounds.

            Actually, none of this goes against your ideas fundamentally. I envisage that in the sort of society you have in mind, there may be a principle at work that a court can intervene where it is decided that an activity might cause ecological harm on the basis that this amounts to long-term harm to humanity.

            • Tom, I suspect a lot of our differences come down to the interpretation of the precautionary principle. For me, the original of the PP is “First, do no harm.” Or otherwise said, “Look before you leap.” Being careful requires NOT acting until you are as sure as you can be that the action won’t do more harm than good.

              • Back in the 1980s and 1990s, the medical and scientific community was warning people not to use mobile phones and predicting that their use near the human brain would lead to a cancer epidemic. In hindsight, there is no evidence that these health consequences have occurred on any significant scale, so it would appear the doctors and the various scientists who produced studies on this may have been wrong in their predictions. However, even if we accept as much, this raises another question: were they wrong to issue these warnings to people? I don’t consider that one follows from another.

                You can be wrong in your prognostications, but for the right reasons. Also, an incomplete scientific picture is not necessarily bad science (acknowledging of course, as I do, that climate science has been politicised). Surely we need to acknowledge that science is not something that exists in a vacuum. It is fundamentally a social endeavour that informs human decisions. The doctors and scientists in my analogy were arguably right to be cautious about mobile phones. Their conclusions were perhaps wrong, but that doesn’t mean there was anything wrong with their methodologies or evidence, and it may be that their cautionary warnings prevented the medical and health problems that they predicted.

    • Simply stated, the climate has too many moving parts for the scientists to be able to make calculations about it with any real degree of accuracy – and that is likely to remain the case for a long time, as the climate is almost infinitely complex, while our very finite understanding of “climatology” is just in the beginning stages of its development. But of course the real problem with the warmist ideology (and the hysteria generated by it) is that politics is driving the “science,” rather than the other way around.

      • I agree with this.

  • Global Warming, er, Climate Change, is a stalking-horse for global government, and nothing Trump has said on the subject indicates he has grasped that strategic aspect of the issue yet – despite his vaunted anti-globalism .

    What Trump got out of his move was a purely symbolic but highly visible gesture which he could feed as “red meat” to his base: “another campaign promise fulfilled” — although it really wasn’t, because his “withdrawal” statement explicitly affirmed the underlying error behind the AGW hysteria: i.e., that human CO2 production is driving the changes our climate is undergoing, and that we can stall or reverse the changes (i.e., change the climate) by curtailing our CO2 output. The saving grace, if any, is that he did undercut the idea that coordinated international co-operation will be required to accomplish that.

    • I agree, Trump probably did what he did for domestic political reasons, not because it was the right thing to do.

      However, if I recall, he did pass a most interesting comment on the subject while in Europe for the G7 meeting. Something to the effect that he had “learned a lot more about the issue.” I suspect (hope?) he may at least be starting to wise up to what is going on.

      • That comment can be taken both ways, depending on how you define “wise up.” One stripe of climate partisan defines it as waking up to the truth Al Gore revealed; the other thinks it’s waking up to the warmists’ suppression of dissent, manipulation of data, and concealment of evidence, etc. I know people in both camps who feel Trump is moving in their direction. Maybe he’s just trying to have it both ways, and simply be ambiguous enough to send both sides chasing after wild geese of their own creation.

  • When I said warmists believe we can “change the climate by curtailing our CO2 output,” I should have added “by curtailing — and managing — our CO2 output.” It’s as much in the management as the curtailment that the bureaucratic machinery of global governance will be established. The process of allocating “carbon credits” on a world-wide scale, just for starters, will require setting up agencies and staff that will provide the administrative framework that can readily morph into a control-panel for global commerce.

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