First, let me say that I believe that our planet is warming. The evidence is plain before us – gradually increasing global temperatures, melting glaciers and icecaps, etc. etc. I believe that it is due in part to natural climate cycles and partly to human activity. I seriously doubt the effectiveness of programs undertaken thus far to deal with the problem, and I am uncertain as to what direction we should take.
I often read the postings of a fellow blogger with whom I am acquainted. He is a highly intelligent and accomplished person, and I respect him and his opinions. Nevertheless, he and I are on opposite ends of the political spectrum. For example, he hates Donald Trump with a passion, and he apparently believes every outrageous accusation made against the man.
Recently he castigated Trump for denying the reality of global warming.
Is this accusation true? The answer is both yes and no.
As with most politicians, Democrat and Republican, Trump’s statements on this highly volatile subject vary with his audience. If you judge our former president based on his words alone, his views on climate change appear contradictory and confusing. But this is true about Trump’s recorded positions on almost any subject. He tends to reverse himself frequently, and his hearers are sometimes mystified. The great communicator he isn’t, but supporters usually get the gist of his meaning and where he wants to lead us.
He has called climate change “mythical”, “nonexistent”, or “an expensive hoax” – but he has also described it as a “serious subject” that is “very important to me”. In 2009, Mr Trump, along with dozens of other business leaders, signed a full-page petition in the New York Times expressing support for legislation combating climate change.
When he ran for President, Trump decided that any winning formula must include opposition to the climate change alarmists, and he announced that leaving the Paris Climate Accords would be one of his first acts after becoming President.
But let’s face it. The Paris Accords were mainly symbolic. Signatory nations set goals for reducing carbon emissions, but there was no enforcement mechanism. Also, the goal set for the United States was far more demanding than that set for China, India, and certain other nations. We could have played lip service to the accords and violated them; or, if we had lived up to these promises, many American industries would have been devastated, and we would have been severely crippled in our trade competition with China. The Chinese were already eating our lunch. Following the accords would have made it much worse.
As President, Trump did exhibit environmental concerns, and he was certainly cognizant of the global warming problem. Only an ignorant man would fail to realize that our planet is in trouble, and Trump is not dumb. During his administration, environmental issues were addressed and progress was made; nevertheless, he believed that rescuing our national economy should be his more immediate goal. This included reviving our coal and oil industries and making the United States fuel independent. Concurrently, he wanted to fight and win the trade war with China and thereby restore America’s general manufacturing capacity.
Winning the “climate war” will take many years of cooperative effort on the part of all major nations. So long as China, India and other big polluters play their own game, our own measures will have little effect. In fact, some anti-carbon initiatives, such as converting from gas power to electric cars, may create more problems than they solve.
We have a long struggle ahead of us if we are to reverse climate trends, and the path toward success is not yet clear or certain. I believe Donald Trump recognizes that fact.
Biden has begun a much more aggressive campaign against global warming. I wish that I had confidence that he will proceed carefully and wisely.