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Congressional Resolution Objecting to Trump's Paris Withdrawal Is Grossly Misguided

Updated on July 7, 2017
Image of house bill objecting to USA withdrawal from Paris Agreement.
Image of house bill objecting to USA withdrawal from Paris Agreement.

Background

On Friday, June 16, 2017, United States House of Representatives Congressman, Brad Schneider (Democrat, Illinois 10th congressional district) led 170 of his fellow Democrats in introducing a nonbinding resolution strongly objecting to United States President, Donald Trump's June 1, 2017 withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. The full text of this resolution can be found online, using the following citation:

H.Res. 390 — 115th Congress: Expressing strong disapproval of the President’s announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. (Downloaded 06/19/2017)

In my judgment, this resolution (assigned to the Committee on Foreign Affairs) is a primary illustration of the erroneous information guiding one of the United States' highest law making bodies. Even though a resolution merely expresses an overriding opinion and does not create or modify a law, still it stands as a starting place on which to base new laws. As such, flawed resolutions can lead to flawed laws.

With a preamble consisting of nineteen clauses, each expressing a premise upon which the rationale of the resolution rests, this official document provides an unsettling view of how dogma and popular beliefs can assert control over the legislative process.

In the following analysis, I will focus on each clause of the resolution's preamble and point out deficiencies in supposed "facts" guiding the rationale. I find it necessary to go to this length, in order to reveal the magnitude and depth to which questionable information can serve as a golden standard in the practical guidance of advanced civilizations.

Analysis - 115th CONGRESS, 1st Session, H. RES. 390 - Expressing strong disapproval of the President’s announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris

Clause 1 - National Security Claim

"Whereas global climate change is a threat to the United States national security, public health, national economy, and the legacy we will leave to our children;"

[This clause summarizes the rationale of the resolution, making sweeping claims whose severity is not supported by the facts.]


Clause 2 - Extreme Weather Claim

"Whereas the National Intelligence Council’s 2016 report on Implications for U.S. National Security of Anticipated Climate Change stated that climate change is projected to produce more intense and frequent extreme weather events, multiple weather disturbances, along with broader climatological effects, such as sea level rise, and that these outcomes are almost certain to have significant direct and indirect social, economic, political, and security implications during the next 20 years;"

The report referenced in the above clause can be found here. (Downloaded 06/19/2017).

On page 3 of this report, readers will find the following note:

"In the Intelligence Community’s (IC) analysis of the possible impacts of climate change on national security over the next 20 years, the IC takes as a scientific baseline the reports produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the international body responsible for assessing the science related to climate change."

In other words, the sole source of climate information used by the National Intelligence Council of the United States is one international body, whose climate information has been visibly and vocally challenged by numerous other climate professionals.

Claims of "more intense and frequent extreme weather events and sea level rise" are not supported by current, real-world data, for example. Associating possible social, economic, political, and security concerns with these unproven claims, then creates a false narrative, rather than a reasonably projected picture of the future.

The following images illustrate a better grasp of the relevant facts]:

Figure 1. Annual hurricane count in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea over the period 1749-2012. Red line indicates the linear trend.

Rojo-Garibaldi, B., Salas-de-Leon, D.A., Sanchez, N.L. and Monreal-Gomez, M.A. 2016. Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea and their relationship with sunspots. JOURNAL OF ATMOSPHERIC AND SOLAR-TERRESTRIAL PHYSICS 148: 48-52.
Rojo-Garibaldi, B., Salas-de-Leon, D.A., Sanchez, N.L. and Monreal-Gomez, M.A. 2016. Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea and their relationship with sunspots. JOURNAL OF ATMOSPHERIC AND SOLAR-TERRESTRIAL PHYSICS 148: 48-52.
Picture of JOURNAL OF GEOGRAPHY & NATURAL DISASTERS, 2016, 6:1 article page.
Picture of JOURNAL OF GEOGRAPHY & NATURAL DISASTERS, 2016, 6:1 article page.

Analysis Continued

Clause 3 - Secretary of Defense Claim

"Whereas in March 2017, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, stated that climate change can be a driver of instability and the Department of Defense must pay attention to potential adverse impacts generated by this phenomenon;"

[Secretary of Defense James Mattis is limited by the previously mentioned myopic focus on one primary source of climate information and by alarm arising from conflating effects of climate change with effects of climate change caused specifically by humans. I cannot determine whether Mattis separates the two. Implying that he assumes human causation in his general concern about climate change and national security, thus, seems like an unjustified move.

Mattis probably has an interest in preserving alliances centered on common causes. A common cause based on falsehoods, however, would appear to propagate ignorance that future enemies could exploit. Fiction is not the best basis of international agreements, in my judgment. If a balanced flow of information were coming Mattis' way, then he might well see, for example, the futility in trying to apply current renewable energy sources to the US military on a large scale.]

Current Renewable Energy Technology On A Mass Scale Is Science Fiction

Renewable Energy Mystery Science Fiction Theatre image compiled by Robert G. Kernodle from various sources.
Renewable Energy Mystery Science Fiction Theatre image compiled by Robert G. Kernodle from various sources.

More Analysis

Clause 4 - Health Risks Claim

"Whereas according to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, climate change poses increased health risks, including respiratory disease and asthma attacks resulting from higher levels of ground-level ozone, heat stroke, and cardiovascular failure due to warmer temperatures, increased distribution of vector-borne diseases due to a changing climate, and mental health problems and fatalities related to extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, floods, and wildfires;"

[A vigorous rejection of the 2014 National Climate Assessment (by 15 distinguished scientists) can be found here. (Downloaded 06/19/2017).

The conclusion of this report states:

"This NCA is so grossly flawed it should play no role in U.S. energy policy analyses and CO2 regulatory processes. As this rebuttal makes clear, the NCA provides no scientific basis whatsoever for regulating CO2 emissions."

I can add little to criticize this error riddled report used to prop up exaggerated claims of increased risks to human health.]


Clause 5 - Vulnerable Populations Claim

"Whereas the most vulnerable among us, including children, the elderly, low-income individuals, and those with underlying health conditions, face even greater health risks as a result of climate change;"

[This re-emphasizes the previously questionable report, further playing on fears of vulnerable groups - invoking the overused concern for children again, but this time amplified by concerns for the elderly, poor, and sick. This, to me, parasitizes the interests of such groups and misuses them in an attempt to gain sympathy as support for a faulty cause.]


Clause 6 - Clean Energy Job Creation Claim

"Whereas investing in energy efficiency and clean energy technologies is an extraordinary job creation opportunity for the United States with the Department of Energy reporting that the solar and wind energy industries employed almost 475,000 people in 2016, and that in 2016 the solar workforce increased by 25 percent and wind employment increased by 32 percent;"

[This belies a deeper reality, namely that it takes more jobs to produce a minuscule amount of renewable energy than it does to produce many multiple times that same amount of traditional energy. People working for the sake of working is ultimately futile, if what they work for adds futile quantities of energy to meet a much greater demand for it.

Renewable energy, by today's standards, can, in no way, match or surpass the quantity and round-the-clock dependability of fossil fuels. For one thing, the sun does not always shine, and the wind does not always blow in consistent ways that allow their energies to be harnessed in quantities that the world now demands.

Furthermore, the Earth surface area required for wind farms and solar farms would be enormous, posing clutter, operational difficulties, and vulnerability issues that would be mind boggling.

Also, the 25% and 32% statistics mentioned are for specific workforce segments, not for the whole workforce, which disguises the significance of these statistics in deceitful ways.]


Clause 7 - Clean Energy Economy Claim

"Whereas the United States can lead the world in innovation and manufacturing clean energy technologies, creating good-paying jobs, modernizing the energy grid, and growing new companies that will be the titans of a new clean energy economy;"

[Merely voicing a great hope adds little to the credibility of this resolution. Drama, yes.]


Clause 8 - Religious and Moral Claim

"Whereas leaders of the world’s religious communities recognize the grave threat to humanity posed by climate change and our moral obligation to protect the earth and its people publicly have called upon politicians, business leaders, and the faithful to take action to address climate change;"

[Deferring to religion, morality, and a sense of duty seems to invoke irrational motivations to guide rational behavior.]


Clause 9 - Two Degree Limitation Claim

"Whereas the Paris Agreement is an international accord that aims to limit the increase in global temperatures to less than two degrees Celsius and urges efforts to limit the increase to one and a half degrees Celsius by 2100;"

[A restatement of key expectations of the Paris agreement does not address how practically meaningless they might be, as illustrated by the following graph]:

Reality

Graph derived from Figure 11 in Lomborg, B. (2016), Impact of Current Climate Proposals. Glob Policy, 7: 109–118. doi:10.1111/1758-5899.12295
Graph derived from Figure 11 in Lomborg, B. (2016), Impact of Current Climate Proposals. Glob Policy, 7: 109–118. doi:10.1111/1758-5899.12295

Final Analysis

Clause 10 - Legal Force Claim

Whereas the Paris Agreement was adopted on December 12, 2015, opened for signature on April 22, 2016, and entered into force on November 4, 2016;

[The phrase, "entered into force", gives the impression of a legal obligation, when it could be argued that there is no legal obligation whatsoever, given how the United States entered the agreement.]


Clause 11 - "Carbon Pollution" Claim

Whereas 195 parties, including the largest emitters of carbon pollution—China, the European Union, and India—have signed the Paris Agreement;

[The term "carbon pollution" is arguably ridiculous on two counts: (1) carbon dioxide is the substance of interest, making the word, "carbon" improperly used, and (2) characterizing carbon or carbon dioxide as "pollution" ignores the reality that all life as we know it is based on this "pollutant", and all plant life that we know requires this "pollutant" to exist and to provide our food substances.]


Clause 12 - Reneging Commitment Claim

Whereas United States withdrawal from the Paris Agreement reneges on our commitment to the global community to fulfill our responsibility as a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and as a major emitter of carbon pollution to reduce our emissions;

[United States withdrawal from the Paris Agreement reneges nothing of the sort, as the agreement committed only the Obama administration through the remainder of his presidential term. Obama's agreement did not commit the United States past his term of office, as Obama did not consult the Senate for required ratification of extended terms of the parent treaty.]


Clause 13 - US Leadership Claim

Whereas the United States exit from the Paris Agreement will cede leadership on clean energy technologies, and the jobs they create, to China and other nations;

[This is stated as an unproven (currently unprovable) foregone conclusion. Exiting the Paris Agreement does not automatically kill all interest in clean energy. People everywhere who are motivated to do so can still pursue this interest.]


Clauses 14 through 19 - Group Pressure Tactics

14 - "Whereas in an open letter to President Trump, Members of Congress, and global leaders, more than 1,000 companies and investors expressed support for United States participation in the Paris Agreement and for upholding our commitment to cut carbon emissions in order to create jobs and boost our economic competitiveness;"

15 - "Whereas, on April 26, 2017, more than a dozen major energy and technology companies sent a letter to President Trump expressing support for the Paris Agreement stating that U.S. business interests are best served by a stable and practical framework facilitating an effective and balanced global response;"

16 - "Whereas in the days after President Trump signaled his intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, leaders from more than 100 nations reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement and called on all parties to uphold it, and to strengthen efforts over time;"

17 - "Whereas a group of States, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the territory of Puerto Rico, have all joined the United States Climate Alliance, a bipartisan group of States committed to upholding the goals of the Paris Agreement;"

18 - "Whereas following the President’s announcement more than 1,000 mayors, college and university leaders, businesses, and investors in the United States announced their continued support for the Paris Agreement; and"

19 - "Whereas millions of Americans have made their voices heard in support of the Paris Agreement, and the United States upholding its commitments to the international community to reduce carbon pollution for the benefit of good-paying jobs, families, and the environment now and in future generations:"

[Yes, a lot of people are driven by the hopes (misguided, in my judgment) of the Paris Agreement, but the above six clauses add nothing to the practical reasons for following it. Group pressure is not a reason to spend money, when such pressure is applied without sound logic. "Keeping up with the Joneses" seems like a poor political posture.]


Conclusion

Suffice to say, this resolution amounts to little more than congressional hand waving.

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