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Sunday, June 04, 2017 - 23:55 SGT
Posted By: Gilbert

Paris Discord

Two weekends, two weddings, my first as an official groomsman. Seeing as to how these events go, idle chitchat turned into informal debate, on the GOD-EMPEROR TRUMP's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. Obviously, I took the side of the Imperium with pleasure, since it was apparent to me that the GOD-EMPEROR, as the AlphaGo of postmodernist politics, has once again been playing 4D chess - and winning.

Now, the GOD-EMPEROR's reign may not have been absolutely perfect, but - and I am not being disingenuous here - pulling out of Paris is at worst a non-event, and more likely, the right thing to do for America.


BUT MUH CLIMATE!

It seems as if it's TRUMP versus the world again (but really, he should pick on someone his own size next time); the mainstream media has managed to work their underinformed readers up into a frenzy as usual, with common soundbites heard being of the form "we're all in this together!", "there's only one planet Earth", "rising sea levels! devastation!", etc.

Anecdotally, when then quizzed on the specifics of the Accord, and how it would actually make a real impact, this mob of intellectual basic bro/broettes will tend towards some form of appeal to authority ("surely the scientists.../Justin Trudeau said.../but Obama..."), without any in-depth understanding of what the Accord would achieve ("er, everyone reduces carbon emissions, which will save the cheerleader, save the dolphins, save the world, right?"). Hey, it's the Climate Accord! Says so right up front!

These are, in aggregate, the type of people who like to imagine that the Patriot Act has anything at all to do with patriotism, rather than being a cover for egregious invasion of personal privacy (but really, it's the oldest trick in the book; I'm just curious how nobody in Congress has proposed the Act Against Baby Eating and Puppy Kicking yet). I would have thought that, if these fellows actually cared about the topic, they would have remembered all the well-founded criticism and skepticism when it was first drafted in 2015.

Well, let's line those arguments up to be demolished.

  • It'll Save the Earth

    Sorry to burst a bubble here, but the sad and sorry fact is, in the extremely unlikely event that the suggested emissions cuts are met by 2030 and maintained for the rest of the century, the difference is projected to be... about 0.2 degrees in 2100.

    Special mention on the "TRUMP is misrepresenting MIT!" headlines here: it took quite a bit of digging to get to the details, but it seems that this was what happened: the MIT study did indeed state the 0.2 degrees figure (and even Politifact had to admit it). Of course, seeing as this would totally destroy their academic street cred, the panicked researchers sought desperately for some way out, and quantified their projections by stating that they applied only if the originally scheduled greenhouse gas reduction schedules were kept to.

    ...wait, this sounds like a perfectly reasonable assumption to me. I mean, if you're critiquing a work, it's only fair to base it on what has been written, instead of what could well have been written, no?

    Apparently aware of how they had put their foot in their mouth by actually doing science, the co-director of the MIT program then tried to handwave it by saying that, well, "if we don't do anything, we might shoot over by five degrees or more" - which, by the way, appears a completely baseless statement, and the equivalent of a climate change denier asserting that we could see an increase of only one degree.

    More to the point, the reality is that even if one accepts the best-faith scientific projections, it remains that the Paris Accord, as it stands, remains objectively pointless - as former Nasa scientist James Hansen has long said. We'll plumb the depths of its uselessness soon enough, but before that, another popular point:


  • TRUMP is Selfish!

    Well now, guess what, it's the platform he got elected on. Remember Greedy for America? Because his supporters sure do. But let's try to explain this in more relatable terms.

    Picture this scenario: you and your pals are walking to catch a train, when a guy accosts you (because you're out in front, you alpha dog you) at the station.

    "Sir, would you like to make a donation to the orphanage?" (with a tone implying that you ain't the sort who doesn't care about poor helpless kids, right?)

    Nice guy that you are, you pull out a five dollar note, but to your shock, the guy refuses it brusquely.

    "Why, sir! That is so paltry! I saw a few hundred-dollar notes in your wallet, yeah? Like, what's a hundred bucks to a man like you? Another pair of leather shoes? That would feed ten kids for a week, man. Don't be so selfish, thinking of yourself only, think of society, we're all in this!"

    While this might be technically true, one can't help but feel a little put off, especially when one then looks around and finds one's "friends" with their hands firmly wedged in their pockets.

    "Yeah, man, I think the guy's right. Poor kids."

    "Alright then, everybody puts in a tenner, and we're done." you say.

    "Nah, sorry, bad week for me."

    "Need a new heater, count me out."

    "Maybe I can spare fifty cents?"

    ...

    Perhaps TRUMP's stand becomes more relatable now?

    Oh, the mainstream media are playing up the "commitment" of other countries, most notably India and China, with Modi almost too eager to declare that they would "go beyond the accord". But then, of course he would, given that India is slated to receive a big slice of the planned US$100 billion annual contribution by developed parties. As for China, they've managed to negotiate such a low-balled bar that they can actually continue increasing emissions until 2030 while fulfilling their end of the bargain... and this qualifies them to "take the lead on climate change"?!

    To me, this amply illustrates the weakness of the previous U.S. administration. Yeah, sure, people can say that TRUMP is selfish and "as a leader, he should take a long-term view etc", but really, as any good businessman knows, it's all in the numbers. TRUMP may be willing to be generous and palm off five bucks - he's always stated his willingness to renegotiate - but given that his inept predecessor has got the country on the hook for a hundred, the would-be beneficiaries are rationally saying no... while getting to look like the good guys (Obama really was a disaster, folks).

    So TRUMP, grizzled business veteran, sensibly walks. And can you blame him, for not making a certain sacrifice of billions in GDP annually, for a vague fluffy promise of next to nothing? I certainly can't.


  • But Why Not Just Go With It?

    While recognizing this reality, many smart pundits have also pointed out the obvious alternative - even if the Paris Accord is a tremendously lousy deal for America (it is), the easiest reaction would remain... simply to do nothing. TRUMP could just allow the not-quite-treaty to pass, avoiding all this heckling, and then quietly skip out on the commitments.

    I mean, why not? The accord was completely non-binding to begin with - which, recall, was what persuaded the oh-so-committed India, China, North Korea etc to sign up in the first place. Here, talk is not only cheap, it is literally free - sign on, and you get to raise your hands together with other functionaries in a fleeting feel-good gesture; at most, your successor gets to cook up some carbon emissions figures in the future. Don't sign, and be ostracized. Seen in this light, no normal politician would dare to break the mould.

    But of course, TRUMP is no ordinary politician.

    Now, realistically, skimpers gonna skimp. Recall NATO's 2% spending pledge, which TRUMP somehow also got cast as a bad guy on for simply insisting that members have to uphold their pledges (yes, I hear it, he should "exhibit leadership" and "not be so selfish" too)? And how Canada is now "deeply disappointed" at TRUMP's withdrawal, when they bloody pulled out of the Kyoto protocol themselves scarce few years back, to save on US$14 billion in penalties? Everybody's a planet-hugging hero, until they have to, you know, actually pay up.

    But back to the original question. Yes, TRUMP could have done nothing, and made his own life so much easier. But that's not him. He's not Obama. This is not what the GOD-EMPEROR became President for.

    You see, there was a pledge. He gave his word, during his campaign. He is therefore now fulfilling it. It is, ultimately, no more and no less than that.

    I know, it's hard to believe that such men still exist.


  • The Individual As Free Actor

    You've got to give it to the world (as presented by the mainstream media). After being stumped, again and again, by the TRUMP, they don't know when they're beaten.

    Browsing through the news, it almost appears as if they're all opposing him (again) - all those nations, now so adamant at following through on the Accord (until they actually have to cough up cash). A bunch of mayors, promising to uphold it (through a short note that basically says nothing concrete). Michael Bloomberg, pledging US$15 million... fine, fair play to him, it's his money.

    And this, I believe, is the point that the GOD-EMPEROR is trying to make.

    He's not even against the idea of climate change, as far as can be ascertained; he's against coercing entities into collective deals against their will, and have governments and higher authorities pick winners and losers. If a city or company wants to impose additional standards on themselves, all power to them - it is not his place to interfere.

    America is Freedom, after all.




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