• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Photo: Headshot of Rich Barlow, an older white man with dark grey hair and wearing a grey shirt and grey-blue blazer, smiles and poses in front of a dark grey backdrop.

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

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There are 9 comments on The Fallout from Trump’s Paris Accord Withdrawal

  1. I can hardly think of a much more academically sloppy set of opinions. Why are these commentators completely refusing to address the main claims of Trump’s announcement withdrawing from the accord? Trump claimed that Paris punishes the US, and exempts China – the world’s main polluter – India, and Russia. Well, if that is true, then why should we sign it? Why should we agree to shut down our US clean coal plants, and China keep building its dirty coal-fired plants for another decade? Is the near-elimination of hydrocarbon emissions from the US the reason we focus on CO2, ignoring the whole of Asia puffing out toxins like 1950’s Pittsburgh? India will reduce emissions, but only after it receives billions in aid to do so. It’s disappointingly anti-intellectual to cite politics this and polls that when there are real claims about a real written agreement that can be scrutinized.

    1. Because “punish” is subjective – some see the US’s obligations under Paris as a responsibility to other countries since the US has benefited the most from fossil fuel emissions. And “clean coal” does not exist.

      The reason we focus on CO2 is because of its long residence time in the atmosphere, which increases its ability to trap heat.

      I learned all this in a BU class…not sure you’ve actually scrutinized the agreement as much as I did in GE599 Science, Politics, and Climate Change. I’m not sure how you can describe these academic opinions as “sloppy” when they come from some of the best minds at BU.

      1. Well, the prior Administration’s agreed to commitments that are obviously unequal and disproportionately heavy on the US. In a democracy, not all are bound by the belief of others that this disproportion is some international moral obligation; those who disagree can only hardly them as anything other punishment or reparations.

        The suggestion that a long residence time in the atmosphere increases CO2’s ability to trap heat only makes sense based on the belief that CO2 accumulates in the air faster than it is being removed. However its current level of 400ppm is not observed to increase, and that amount is insubstantial, leading to climatologists’ gyrations over “multiplier effects.” But what about the non-CO2 emissions we spent 15 years eliminating from automobile exhaust but which are still emitted freely in other countries?

        I see sloppiness because none of the respondents thoroughly engaged the justification in substance. Comparing the linked text of the President’s statement you see very little of it actually answered by these professors. If I want shallow polls about the opinions of voters, I can tune into the news.

        1. CO2 reached 400 ppm in 2014. 3 years is a rather short time-horizon to decide it’s not “observed” to increase…especially when that’s blatantly false. https://www.co2.earth/ Can you show me a peer-reviewed source that says otherwise?

          It’s difficult to engage with much from the president’s statement as much of it was untrue, especially the estimations of what the Paris accord could change for global temperature increase and the idea that the agreement is heavily damaging to the US economy.

          As to the idea of an international moral obligation…No one country or person comes “first” when it comes to climate change. The accord, even in its lack of binding principles, was a serious gesture of goodwill towards others, especially those in developing countries that will be hurt the most by climate change. If you think American economic growth is worth more than access to food and water for people all over the globe, I’m not really sure how to reach you.

    2. A significant amount of what Trump claimed about the agreement in his speech was outright wrong. China has doubled down on renewable energy and is investing upwards of $360 Billion renewable energy/infrastructure/technology. Some of the lowest hanging fruit for Trump in terms of job creation in the US would be to invest in renewable energy technology and infrastructure in the US, over time creating hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of jobs in the US. By not investing, he is just giving these jobs to China and letting them become a global leader in renewable energy/technology.

      1. Chinese “doubling down” in renewable energy – is dwarfed by the increased dirty coal energy Paris allows and, in fact, by what the US has already spent on frauds like Solyndra.

        Other energy industries rose and thrived without government subsidies and research grants, but the “renewables” thing has shown job growth almost exclusively through government spending. Every efficient energy technology will be profitable, and every profitable technology gets plenty of private US investment, apart from the overall business-hostile posture of Federal taxation and regulation.

  2. Ivory tower opinion. I laughed two minutes straight when I read the first guy’s job title.

    Here’s why opting out was the correct decision: $100billion per year minimum payment to China and India while they pledge to ramp up pollution to peak in 2030. That’s the text of the agreement. Seriously.

    Ok that’s the cost (not to mention the up to $3trillion detriment to the economy and,industries but that’s open to honest dispute). What’s the tea l world benefit in terms of future global temperatures? MIT studies say without the treaty the world,will warm 3.7 degrees by year 2100. With the they project the world will warm 3.7 degrees by 2100. Yes,that’s right. No change in the projected future temps. Journal of Global Policy said about 5 hundredths of one degree.

    To be fair MIT found up to 0.2 degrees of mitigatiom over 85 years. But that small mitigation washed out due to a minkr revision in their global GDP growth forecast, thus 3.7 degrees with or without Paris agreement cuts in carbon emissions.

    Big cost, big aid to out global competition, and no climate effect.

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