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It's called global for a reason

21 Feb 2024 | OP ED Watch

The retreat from logic on climate change continues with a piece in The Atlantic threatening that “A Climate Reckoning Is Coming for the Next President”. What, the White House air conditioning will break down? He’ll be arrested by the IPCC? Well, no. Not a “reckoning” in the sense of a reckoning. Just orange man bad. “If Donald Trump wins a second term… another Trump presidency all but guarantees a complete abnegation of the country’s climate duties from 2025 to 2029. And as climate scientists say, emissions anywhere mean global warming everywhere: The United States’ heat-trapping contributions to the atmosphere during those years will make the world warmer than it would be without them.” Oh yeah? By how much? Lots, as in “adding to that damage would be an ‘unmitigated disaster,’ the atmospheric-climate scientist Veerabhadran Ramanathan told me.” And then immediately said it wouldn’t, in a rare moment of lucidity.

Thinking minor changes in U.S. GHG emissions will affect the weather in the United States is scarcely more absurd than thinking changes in Irish emissions will affect the weather in Ireland. It’s partly that what matters is the global total, because if there is such a thing as global warming, it’s, well, global, and nobody knows how to make the bad actors like China in particular cut back. But it’s also that no cuts anyone is talking seriously about will change the trajectory the models say we’re on. However evidently when writing about climate one no longer needs to make sense as long as one makes noise.

As Atlantic author Zoë Schlanger (BA from NYU in “Environmental Studies, Journalism, Politics”) admits, Ramanathan instantly swallowed his words, which rather undermines the story:

“’But if it’s just four years, we can survive it,’ he added, to my surprise. ‘Unless that four years becomes 20 years … But if it is just four years, then you can recover.’”

Even The Atlantic must realize the chance of Trump winning a 20-year term this November are not large. But they place high odds on people going mad with fear of climate change. Ramanathan, whom they describe as “a distinguished professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego” said he:

“expects that, sometime this decade, regardless of who is president in 2025, the public will inevitably come to its senses about the dangers of climate change – out of sheer fear of how climate-addled our lives are becoming – and demand the type of radical change needed to reach zero emissions.”

Even though it will hurt, a lot. But soft. Before we get to 2030 and the revolution, let’s go back to the blather we opened with:

“emissions anywhere mean global warming everywhere: The United States’ heat-trapping contributions to the atmosphere during those years will make the world warmer than it would be without them.”

Well yes, if you believe man-made CO2 is warming the planet. The U.S. contributes about 13% of human GHGs, as far as anyone can tell. So is the claim that if Joe Biden is re-elected, or Kamala Harris wins, or ANYONE BUT TRUMP YAAAAAAH TERRIBLE, the U.S. will stop emitting them at all?

Unlikely. Will its emissions stabilize? They largely have already. Whereas China, which now produces over 30% of world human GHGs, is rocketing upward. So actually it makes very little difference what the United States does, especially if we limit it to the realm of the possible and exclude that Trump might double its emissions and Biden cut them in half.

No, really. Plug it into one of those famous computer models that say if the entire world meets its Paris Accord commitments it will change global temperature by 2100 by 0.1C. How much difference will it make to that figure if U.S. emissions, say, rise by 10%, or fall by 10%? Exactly. None at all.

If it were a real story, it would make several important points it does not. First, if you believe in climate orthodoxy, the kinds of changes we have to make in our lifestyles in a dreadfully negative direction are enormous. It’s obvious, and yet invisible.

Here we should note that, like various references to “diplomatic pressure mounting”, journalists seem increasingly unable to detect sentences that obey the rules of grammar without meaning anything. For instance, Schlanger writes:

“Anders Levermann, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, in Germany … agrees that four years of a Trump term would be harmful yet recoverable. But more specifically, he thinks the U.S. would be shooting itself in the foot. The transition to renewable energy is now inevitable. ‘In 20 years, we as a globe have to be at zero emissions,’ Levermann said. For four years, the U.S. would be taking itself out of the race to achieve that. All that would do is hamper the U.S.’s own power in a world that will change without it.”

Rubbish. The casual reference to zero in 20 fails to trigger a realization that the economic impact would be immense and almost certainly catastrophic. And both Levermann and Schlanger seem unable to grasp the equally obvious corollary that, if getting to zero emissions means crippling your economy and your military, then a nation that “takes itself out of the race” and lets others make the sacrifices would become relatively more powerful. Which brings us to the second vital point.

If we really do have to slash global emissions, not just to net zero by 2050 but to zero by 2044 or whatever that babble was meant to indicate, then we have to make everyone do it. It’s a collective action problem, because anyone who lets others make the sacrifices will reap just as many benefits as those who make them, and avoid many painful costs. And collective action problems are no less problematic for being urgent, as they sometimes are and as climate alarmists think this one is.

So, who’s going to bell the cat? Who’s going to compel China?

Since no one is, the trumpet sounds the retreat into fantasy:

“China, meanwhile, is another case like the U.S., Levermann said: It’s a big-enough landmass to go it alone. ‘And they’re going to do it. China’s on that path of doing this. They don’t talk about it, but they do it.’”

Right. A Communist dictatorship immune to the pressure of public opinion, which is currently building six times as many new coal-fired power plants as the rest of the world, is “on that path of doing this” even though “They don’t talk about it”, instead saying they’re not which they aren’t?

Way back in 1982, in a rare moment of lucidity, trendy intellectual Susan Sontag grumbled that:

“Imagine, if you will, someone who read only Reader’s Digest between 1950 and 1970, and someone in the same period who read only The Nation or The New Statesman. Which reader would have been better informed about the realities of Communism? The answer, I think, should give us pause. Can it be that our enemies were right?”

At the time it sparked quite a controversy on the left. Nowadays who on that side will point out that reading The Atlantic leaves a person far less well informed about climate change than, say, reading National Review? Or this newsletter? And yet in a piece like the one by Schlanger, virtually every word, including those she is quoting, is either profoundly misleading or totally meaningless, from “reckoning” to “global”.

5 comments on “It's called global for a reason”

  1. These people are hilarious in their lack of self awareness! The public has already come to its senses regarding the dangers of climate change. Thus, the collapsing EV sales, the sharp turn against wind farms and the farmer protests everywhere! In country after country, pro growth populists are replacing globalist halfwits in governance, the financial institutions are jumping off the climate band wagon and everyone with any sense is investing in oil and natural gas production. The United States is now the "Saudi Arabia" of oil and gas production! Car manufacturers are shutting down EV production and ramping up land yacht production!

  2. "Even The Atlantic must realize the chance of Trump winning a 20-year term this November are not large. But they place high odds on people going mad with fear of climate change."
    OK, repeat after me once more, in the words of HL Mencken a hundred years ago: "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

  3. The dominant institutional political meme of the west is "watermelon". Scratch the surface and you get a much clearer idea of what is behind the curtain. Climate hysteria is the political gift that leviathan now depends on. Orange Man is, among other things, a heretic, and if allowed to run in a fair election, will set the agenda back. The military, climate, lawfare, industrial complex is working against him.

  4. Amazing that you have to qualify “fair” regarding the election! Also incredible is tha there’s more against him than the list you provided; i’d have added academe, NGOs, and the swamp. Snowball’s chance in a high CO2 summer.

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