Saturday, July 15, 2017

Trump’s Leadership on Paris Withdrawal versus Obama’s Delusions of Unearned Greatness

After President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, the New Jersey Star-Ledger whined that the withdrawal is a “sign” that Trump “is ill-equipped to lead the free world” (Sick of Winning (Cont.): Presidential petulance dooms the planet).

As I’ve observed before, “leadership” seems to be the leading theme animating the Left’s  apocalyptic response to Trump’s action. But what kind of leadership should an American president practice? That’s the question.

I left these comments, slightly edited and expanded:

There may be “signs that Trump is ill-equipped to lead the free world.” But at least he abandoned the Paris Accord—Obama’s idea of “leading” the free world away from freedom.

I’d have preferred that Trump suspend America’s participation in the agreement rather than outright withdraw, and then submit the Paris Accord to the Senate for ratification. Americans deserve a robust political debate on the merits and principles behind the Paris Climate Accord. That way, the Paris proponents would have to stop hiding behind simple-minded sloganeering, smear mongering, wild doomsday speculation, and actually explain themselves against the rational and (I believe) stronger arguments of the Paris opponents, who would get the full and fair hearing they have long be denied by the climate catastrophists. A ratification debate would have given the American people that.

Nonetheless, Trump made a step in the right direction. The impetus behind the Paris Accord is thoroughly regressive. Paris is a call for world political control of energy, the industry that makes all other industry possible—and thus central government control of the economy. It also calls for a world socialist regime of massive wealth redistribution from “developed” countries to “developing” countries, with the U.S. citizens bearing the brunt of the cost—which potentially could amount to 10s or 100s of $billions, and ultimately $trillions; out of as much as $2 trillion per year, overall, all of it paid by developed countries led by the U.S. Essentially, it is a demand that the United States of America bow its head, apologize, and pay atonement for its very virtues—its intellectual, political, and economic freedom and freedom’s consequence, prosperity.

The Paris Accord is not about facts or established science, which point to mild and manageable warming, not catastrophe. It doesn’t recognize the vital necessity of reliable economical energy, and vastly greater benefits versus drawbacks of fossil fuels. The Paris Accord is more about waging war against the reliable energy humans need to support their lives. Supporters say the agreement marked “the end of the era of fossil fuel” and a call for world governments “transform” and “shape” the world economy—a massive attack on freedom and prosperity, all to avoid a projected mere fraction of a degree of warming by 2100. But if the Paris Accord were really about global warming, nuclear energy would have topped the list of replacements for fossil fuels, rather than the highly unreliable, super-expensive, subsidy-sucking, growth and job killing “green” solar and wind. Yet, nuclear is not even mentioned. It is also about promoting socialism and destroying capitalism, not about solving some unsubstantiated “climate crisis,” which exists only in perpetually failed computer models. The Bolivian government put it more honestly: Echoing Pope Francis, it called for “a world without capitalism”—i.e., without liberty—rationalized as preventing “the destruction of Mother Earth and humanity.” Naomi Klein explicitly ties climate change catastrophism to the Left’s anti-capitalist crusade, calling climate science “the most powerful argument against unfettered capitalism.” Any wonder why so many dictatorships signed on?

The exact opposite of Paris is needed. As Ronald Bailey argues over at Scientific American—and, more extensively, in his book “The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the 21st Century,”—“To truly address climate change, responsible policy makers should select courses of action that move humanity from slow- to high-growth trajectories, especially for the poorest developing countries. This includes honest bureaucracies, the rule of law, free markets, strong property rights and democratic governance. Whatever slows down economic growth will also slow down environmental cleanup and renewal.” [] The facts, evidence, and experience are demonstrably clear: the more advanced an economy, the better its environment becomes. In other words, more capitalism, not central planning, is the answer to any problems caused by climate change (natural or anthropogenic), because the kind of innovation that can combine rising prosperity with cleaner development and industrialization can only happen when people are free, rather than subservient.

Pulling out of the accord does not abdicate America’s “leadership” role in the world. It enhances it. America has never been a leader in selling out its own citizens’ rights and property—and shackling its own progress—at the behest of the greedy, the power hungry, the envious, and the resentful of the world. America’s leadership consists of being a beacon for the inalienable rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness—the right of individuals to live, work, and trade through voluntary consent in mutual pursuit of individual personal self-interest, which in turn made America a leader in scientific, industrial, technological, and [real] environmental progress uninhibited and undirected by central planning statists.

The Paris agreement itself is an abdication of American leadership, committing the U.S. to a course of increasing statism both internally and globally, all in the name of containing carbon dioxide emissions. Control of carbon emissions means control of human beings. It’s that simple. Such grandiose central planning schemes directly contradict the Declaration of Independence, America’s Founding philosophical document. What kind of leader repudiates his nation’s own values? Is national self-immolation an example of leadership, or subjugation?

There is nothing inherently wrong about international agreements to address problems that transcend borders, so long as American involvement doesn’t come at the expense of American’s wealth, or America as a sovereign, progressive, free country. Belying the Left’s hysterical reaction, recall that Trump asked for a renegotiation of the Paris Accord, or the negotiation of a new treaty, more in America’s and its people’s interests.

But a threat to America is exactly what the Paris Climate Accord threatens to do. Trump was absolutely right, “The Paris framework is a starting point — as bad as it is — not an end point”—a start down a very dangerous road paved by Environmentalism, the religious ideology that holds Mother Nature above human well-being. For America, the Paris Accord is Obama’s Pyramid—a uselessly grandiose monument to his “legacy”; i.e., his vanity and his craving to be canonized as “a great leader,” a leadership built on the backs of productive American citizens. Paris is not about American leadership. It is about the repudiation of America. America is based on the ideal that governments are created to secure individual rights and liberty, not serve as a platform for any politician’s delusions of unearned greatness. On this issue, Kudos to Trump.

Related Reading:

Related Listening:

Bjorn Lomborg: The U.S. Was Right to Withdraw From the Paris Climate Accord [Reason Podcast]

Ayn Rand: The Monument Builders, from The Virtue of Selfishness, Parts One and Two

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