On June 1, 2017 President Trump sent official notice to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Protocol. In light of the constant media drumbeat about impending climate catastrophe, it is worth reviewing the three major problems of the Paris Agreement and to understand why leaving it was a good decision.
Journalists link virtually every extreme weather event—hurricane, tornado, flood or drought—to climate change often using a phrase like, “scientists say we should expect to see more (fill in the blank) as the climate warms.” The clear implication being that we are already seeing more or worse extreme weather events.
However, the past century has seen no upward trend in hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, or floods. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report’s chapter on extreme weather makes evident the lack of trend for hurricanes, floods, and droughts.
Regarding hurricanes the authors state, on page 217 of the report, “In summary, this assessment does not revise the SREX conclusion of low confidence that any reported long-term (centennial) increases in tropical cyclone activity are robust, after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities. More recent assessments indicate that it is unlikely that annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes counts have increased over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.” Trying to retrieve gloom and doom where none is evident, they then point to an increase in hurricanes since the 1970s. This, however, is grossly misleading as a chart on the previous page of the report shows. The 1970s were a nadir of hurricane activity for the 20th Century.
The story on floods is told on page 214, “In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale.” Got it? Despite overall global warming for the past century, there has not been a global increase in floods.
Again, the IPCC scientists’ own words undercut the media misrepresentation linking every drought to climate change. “In summary, the current assessment concludes that there is not enough evidence at present to suggest more than low confidence in a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the middle of the 20th century, owing to a lack of direct observations, geographical inconsistencies in the trends, and dependencies of inferred trends on the index choice. Based on updated studies, AR4 conclusions regarding global increasing trends in drought since the 1970s were probably overstated.” (page 215) But what about California, right? The authors point out that the frequency and intensity of droughts have likely gone down in North America since 1950.
The U.S. is the land of tornadoes. Roughly three-fourths of the world’s tornadoes occur in the U.S. So, we turn to our own National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the word on tornadoes. They make it really simple, “there has been little trend in the frequency of the stronger tornadoes over the past 55 years.”
Looking for a path to sobriety? Take a drink every time a major media outlet mentions any of these well-documented no-trends when covering a hurricane, drought, flood, or tornado.
The second big problem with the Paris Accord is that, at best, it would have a negligible impact on global warming. How negligible is negligible? Try 0.17 degrees C by 2100. . What is more, that number is too optimistic because it assume all the members of the agreement will meet their targets, which is unlikely to be the case.
Irony alert! The latest data on CO2 emissions from the International Energy Administration do not show much reason for those in the agreement to cast aspersions on the US for leaving (which they did here, here, and here). Between 2005 (the base year for the Paris Agreement) and 2017 US energy-related CO2 emissions dropped 16.5 percent while those for the rest of the OECD dropped only 3.9 percent. Taking irony to a new level, a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry said, “We think the Paris accord reflects the widest agreement of the international community with regards to eliminate (sic) change and parties should cherish this hard-won outcome.” China’s emissions increased 70.7 percent between 2005 and 2017. Overall, it looks like sanctimony comes cheap.
What does not come cheap are the high-priced green-energy schemes needed to meet the ineffective and unnecessary Paris Agreement. A study by Kevin Dayaratna, Nick Loris, and me estimated that even the most efficient means for meeting the targets would cut aggregate GDP by $2.5 trillion between 2016 and 2035, increase electricity expenditure by more than 13 percent and eliminate hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs.
A modern, robust economy needs affordable and dependable energy. Occasional energy, dependent on the weather and defeated by sunset, is never affordable. Artificially pricing reliable energy out of the system raises energy costs and eats into the budgets of families and businesses alike. Less income, fewer jobs, and reduced output are the trifecta of a weakened economy.
The Paris Agreement is a costly non-solution to a problem that is exaggerated at best. This agreement is a bad deal for all the countries. Whether leaders in other countries come to their senses or not, leaving a bad agreement is a good idea.