Would the Paris Climate Accords Render Earth Uninhabitable?
The most important decision Donald Trump will likely make in his four years as president faces him now. He’s apparently on a knife-edge over what to do. On the one side is massive public pressure from virtually every elite institution in the U.S. and around the world. That reaches from the U.N. to the pope, from science gurus to policy wonks. Voices within his own team urge Trump to flip on this key campaign promise: To withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord.
It’s crucial that President Trump resist these voices. He must stay true to his voters. Not because campaign promises are sacred. Not because the agreement might hurt him politically. No, the fact is that this treaty is its own catastrophe. Its results on the poorest around the world, on personal freedom and economic growth, are not just predictable: They are certain.
“Alternative” Energy Lets the Poor Freeze in the Dark
We are already seeing these effects. Wherever governments clamp down on cheap, reliable fossil fuels in favor of pricey, buggy, exotic new technologies, results are the same: Energy prices go up. Economic growth goes down. The poor stay poor. A few Elon Musks or Al Gores get obscenely rich. And the environment suffers. See the Cornwall Alliance’s statement for the grim details.
It is only in an economy where most people have their basic needs met that you can find the money and political support to look after ecology. Taking fossil fuels out of the energy mix is like banning silicon computer chips. Imagine going back to the vacuum tubes of IBM’s room-size computers back in the 1950s. What effect would that have on the economy? Well, the difference of efficiency, reliability, and cost between fossil fuels and all the exotic (non-nuclear) “alternative” energy sources is roughly the same. If it weren’t they wouldn’t need massive subsidies from the taxpayer.
You don’t rewire your house while your infant is choking. Poor people don’t fear for the sea turtles when their family members lack vaccines, clean water, and fully nutritious food.
How do you think environmental initiatives are going in Venezuela right now? In Syria? In Libya? Without the peace, plenty, and order that come with a basically free economy, you will never see a cleaner earth. For more proof, look back at the appalling environmental record of the former Soviet Union. It poisoned whole regions and actually dried up one of the earth’s seas. But it still couldn’t feed its people.
Pulling Up the Ladder Behind Us
The Paris Treaty would crush economic growth around the world by gradually banning abundant and cheap energy. What would that do? Knock billions of people off the upward escalator that globalization has provided. You know, that economic force which reduced the number of desperately poor people around the world by one billion in the past 20 years.
Granting unelected, international bureaucrats still more power over the lives, work, and choices of every American is dangerous.
Then large portions of the human race will never reach the happy plateau where they can afford to care about important but less urgent goods: Things like endangered species, biodiversity, and wild open spaces. They are too busy staving off cholera. You don’t rewire your house while your infant is choking. Poor people don’t fear for the sea turtles when their family members lack vaccines, clean water, and fully nutritious food. Or when they can’t heat their homes.
The Paris treaty is based on speculative science. It uses flawed computer models. They pretend to predict what we cannot even explain: the changes in earth’s climate. Its supporters politically manufactured a “consensus” of scientists that human activity causes global warming. The tools that yielded the consensus included falsified data, blacklisting, and attacks on dissenting scientists and journals.
The Madness of Scientists
We have seen such “consensus” take root before. Here’s a short list of things that the relevant experts were cocksure about, and the catastrophic results:
- This movement was started by Charles Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton. By the 1920s it had swept up most leading biologists, evolution advocates, and large swathes of the Progressive movement. Soon it was the scientific “consensus.” It explained social evils like mental illness, illegitimacy, unemployment and even criminal behavior: They’re all genetic. The answer to those evils? Putting experts in charge of using government force to control people’s behavior. In 13 states, activists such as Margaret Sanger passed mandatory sterilization laws. The goal was to guarantee (in her words) “more children from the fit, fewer from the unfit.” Of course, in Nazi Germany the eugenic push was far more brutal. Few remember that Germany modeled its laws on America’s. The Nazis granted an honorary degree to Sanger’s close associate Harry Laughlin.
- In the wake of the Great Depression, virtually no influential economists believed in a free market economy. From the Marxist left to the nationalist right, all agreed. Economic success requires centralized planning. End the tumult and “chaos” of people making their own economic decisions. Grant certified experts control over the resources of a nation. Indeed, the model adopted for thinking about society was that of an auto factory. The few must control the levers. Let citizens dutifully take their places on the assembly line. Socialist countries which adopted this statist model faced famines, shortages, and constant underproduction. Fascist nations which followed it only found brief prosperity by retooling themselves for war. Then the wars squandered all that wealth and more. Forty million people died in the Second World War.
- Population control. In the 1960s and 70s, there was an almost universal consensus of social scientists and government policy makers: The earth faced imminent famine. Self-styled “experts” on population such as Paul Ehrlich confidently predicted mass starvation in the United States and Europe after 1970, as the earth ran out of resources. In response, massive government programs were set up in countries around the world. Rank coercion struck poor countries like India and Brazil. Foreign aid donors made mass forced sterilization programs the price of food shipments. In Communist China, tens of millions of women were force to abort their babies. Millions of newborn girls died in infanticide at the hands of families who wanted their one child to be a son. Now there is a gross sex imbalance in China. In freer countries, massive social pressure was brought to bear to reduce family size. The result? A crippling “birth dearth” throughout most developed countries, with populations certain to shrink. There is no one to pay for the pensions that old people will expect in Germany, France, Sweden or the Netherlands — or the health care they will need. (Apart from, you know, euthanasia, which is dirt-cheap.) Magazines like The Economist urged the EU to accept tens of millions of low-skill Muslim immigrants as a desperate ploy to plug this demographic gap. What could possibly go wrong with that plan?
The Panic Mongers’ Panacea: Power
As I wrote on this topic back in 2015:
Today we’re told by the same cast of characters who touted the “population bomb” that the same long list of catastrophes they predicted last time really will happen after all unless we give them lots of power, only these things will happen for a completely different reason: global warming. If the climate stabilized tomorrow, it wouldn’t be long before the international crisis lobby would be predicting the very same catastrophes, for still another reason. Maybe an impending attack by Smaug the dragon.
Their call to action is always the same: To shift massive power from citizens to governments, and from democratically elected governments to unaccountable international agencies, run by the same kind of people who mismanage FIFA and the EU. That seems to be the scientific constant: Whatever is going on, it’s terrible and will kill us all quite soon, unless we hand over power to the nice men in the white coats and those troops in the blue helmets. Then we’ll be safe.
Imagine a doctor who, whatever your symptoms, always came back with a different, close-to-terminal diagnosis, and offered the same prescription. It’s $800 a pill, and he is the only supplier. You might start to get suspicious.
The Trash Heap of History
What we can predict, based on our knowledge of human nature and institutions, is this: Granting unelected, international bureaucrats still more power over the lives, work, and choices of every American is dangerous. To our economic futures, but even more to our freedom. The certain effect of the Paris Accords would be worse than any of the nightmare scenarios which its pet scientists are predicting.
President Trump needs to toss this dangerous treaty onto the junkpile. Let it lie next to Margaret Sanger’s racist IQ tests, Marx’s economic predictions, and Paul Ehrlich’s apocalyptic fantasies. Trump owes that not just to voters, but to his grandchildren.