Climate Change Fallacies
Unlike many in their party, Republican members of Congress on environment-related House committees acknowledge the threat of climate change. That is the good news.
The bad news is they refuse to support legislation that would bar President Trump from withdrawing us from the Paris Climate accord. It is a stance that isolates us from virtually every nation in the world. Undeterred, the Republican lawmakers resort to partisan — one might add fallacious — talking points to establish their case against the Paris accord. They consider the pact too economically intrusive, even though it would allow us to proceed with our greenhouse gas emission reductions at our own pace and construct.
The main thrust of the Paris agreement is to jumpstart a long overdue coordinated global movement to slow down and eventually stabilize the global warming trend. Republicans remain unimpressed and parrot the following talking points.
• Paris accord compliance will damage our economy through loss of jobs, higher electricity bills, and the phase out of our oil-producing supremacy.
The World Health Organization estimates it will cost humanity four times more if it does nothing than if it acts expeditiously to transition from a fossil fuel-dominated economy to a renewable energy-based one. The discrepancy is attributed in large part to the accretion of health benefits and mitigation of harm to life, limb, and property resulting from carbon reduction. Regarding job loss, the Republicans protesteth too loudly. The International Labor Organization projects that - in the transition to a renewable energy economy - while six million jobs would be lost, 24 million would be added. As for electricity bills, they would fluctuate according to jurisdiction, but any increase should be offset by reduced medical costs.
• Joining the Paris accord will rob us of our sovereignty.
Under the pact, signatory nations have the leeway to reduce emissions their way and there is no external interference with national authority.
• The accord needs to be ratified by the Senate, and there is no chance that it would be if brought before that body.
A president has the authority to enter unilaterally into many international agreements. Also, if the Paris accord were ever forwarded to the Senate, rejection would be no sure thing, given the pact’s strong public support.
•The private sector’s market forces are superior to government regulation in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Global problems need all hands on deck, and collective action by the world’s governments is essential to that end.
•Why should we pull out all the stops in carbon reduction when other countries are failing to do so.
Someone has to lead, and we have a pretty good record in that regard. Moreover, it is not to our advantage to be excluded from dialogue within the Paris accord.
• Even if we cut our carbon emissions to zero, it would not make any difference in the big picture.
You have got to start somewhere to build momentum, especially since scientists warn we only have a ten year window to get remediation in gear.
• Abandoning fossil fuels sacrifices a main source of the nation’s wealth and fiscal international supremacy.
This ignores a sense of urgency in transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables. That said, for practical purposes, the decoupling from fossil fuels will not occur overnight, the pressures for alacrity notwithstanding.
Finally, some Republicans in misguided fashion fancy our boycott of the Paris accord a brand of “American Exceptionalism”. The rest of the world is not cheering.