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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Trump’s Relevance On Climate Change

Trump’s Relevance On Climate Change

At last week’s meeting of U.S. and European leaders, the American president refused to join the consensus supporting the Paris climate treaty, tweeting that he’d let us know what he thinks next week. While China, India, Europe, California and New York are all beginning the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, the current U.S. federal government refuses to see the danger of climate change or the economic opportunities presented by the need to modernize our energy system. President Trump seems stuck in a decades-long time warp: it’s 1974 again and Trump sees the oil embargo and gas lines all over America. Despite the global energy market, he advocates energy independence. He thinks that the coal industry has been collapsing due to over-regulation rather than competition from cheaper and cleaner fuels. His understanding of climate science is no more sophisticated than his understanding of energy economics. He campaigned that climate change is a hoax and his environmental advisors are wholly owned subsidiaries of the fossil fuel industry. All of this leads to the dangerous delusions that drive this White House’s environmental policies.

Even if you refuse the reality of climate science, the economic reality of American scientific and technological prowess cannot be denied. The smart phone, streaming video, the World Wide Web, GPS, low-cost computing, the miracle of modern health care, and countless household conveniences are built on the brainpower of scientists. All the wealth generated by these technologies are derived from the same research establishment that is alerting the world to the perils of environmental destruction. The scientific and technological capacity of America is our true distinct and comparative advantage in the world economy. America’s national labs, research universities and our applied industrial research and development capacities are second to none. An economic battle focused on the development of new technology is one we can dominate. But withdrawing from Paris, cutting the budgets for scientific research, and attacking medical and climate research are acts of national lunacy. This nightmare of an administration is harming America’s fundamental interests, and even if we manage to preserve our scientific capacity, we are running as fast as we can simply to stand still and maintain what we have. Each budget proposal mystifies and terrifies the nation’s scientists. It is difficult for them to focus on their science when they have to hustle even more than usual to ensure that their research teams won’t evaporate due to the latest budget cuts. We should be investing in science, but instead, the president proposes disinvestment.

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