The United States, absent on climate

It’s old news by this point, but, during the recent G7 summit in Biarritz, France, Donald Trump not only lobbied hard to get Russian dictator Vladimir Putin reinstated in the group, and made the case to have next year’s event at his failing, bedbug infested Doral golf club, but, like the coward that he is, he dodged his fellow world leaders on the subject of climate change, hiding in his room during the session in which the largest threat to humanity was being discussed, and then lying about why he’d skipped the meeting. [The White House put out a statement saying that Trump couldn’t attend the session on climate change, as he was involved in meetings with the heads of Germany and India, but that turns out to have been a lie.]

The truth is, Donald Trump, who plays a tough guy on Twitter, lacks the courage to sit at the same table as his fellow world leaders and talk about climate change. He doesn’t want to talk about the fact that the Amazon is burning, or that this past July was the hottest month in recorded human history, or that the Arctic Ocean has already lost 95% of its oldest ice. He doesn’t want to look at these other world leaders, who he knows are much smarter than he is, and attempt to defend his absolutely indefensible comments about how windmills cause cancer, and climate change is a hoax. So, instead, he hides like a coward. And, at some point, when the coast is clear, he shuffles back out on stage to condemn renewable energy, and make the laughable assertion that he knows “more about the environment than most people,” because, as a developer, he’s had to pay for environmental impact studies to be conducted. [I’ve paid to have environmental impact studies to be conducted. It doesn’t make me an expert in climate. It just means that I know something about the sub-surface contamination left behind by gas stations, dry cleaners, and the like.] But that’s not the worst of it. After making these ridiculous claims, he then had the audacity to actually brag, as you can see in this video, that the United States is producing more oil and gas under his administration… You know, the stuff that’s actually causing the warming that’s going to kill life on earth.

The picture at the top of this post shows Donald Trump’s empty seat at this G7 meeting on climate change. It’s an incredible photo, in that it perfectly illustrates our abdication of leadership on this, the most important issue to ever face humanity. I’m hopeful that, one day, if we somehow survive this, it figures prominently in every elementary school history text in America. [I think this photo should be used instead of a photo of Donald Trump in the White House, after he’s gone.]

Coincidentally, while Donald Trump was avoiding reality in France, news broke that he — this man who knows “more about the environment than most people” — had, on multiple occasions, proposed to his aides that we should attempt to dissipate hurricanes by detonating nuclear bombs inside of them, like they did in the movie Sharknado… So, on second thought, maybe it’s a good thing that the rest of the world is moving on without us on climate change, and everything else. We no longer have anything serious to offer.

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  1. John Galt
    Posted August 28, 2019 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    Think of how ridiculous these other “leaders” will look when all of their constituents are dead from windmill cancer and our great scientist Donald Trump proves that global warming was a hoax.

  2. dogmatic dolt
    Posted August 28, 2019 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Aloha, the other day the scientist EOS was pointing out how we need more trees, and that growing CO2 in the atmosphere would be helping them grow–ie. more greening, more carbon capture. The thing about the biosphere is everything is interconnected at levels that are not always obvious. Was following a discussion of this very subject, and how this very change which many believed would be a “positive” attribute of global warming is actually contributing to the decreasing greenness of the planet.
    Јцӏіцѕ В. Тһіјѕѕеп responding to Paul Beckwith
    This is quite obvious when you visit any tropical/subtropical area (like SE Asia, where I’ve just been); Vegetation and leaf-surface area is explosively large there, and the impression I got from studying this is its average size is growing too (due to growing nutrient availability, mainly atmospheric CO2 and NO3 in the soil, and mostly human sourced fertilizers). But as with everything that looks like it’s a positive at first glance, it has a negative too; This can be found in many studies too, as vegetation grows faster and larger, it requires more water from the soil. Only very few plants take up sufficient water from the air to survive on. So there’s the culprit; Yes, there’s greening going on, but it can’t hold up, since there’s no groundwater to match it with. A larger leaf surface evaporates more, of course. You’d have to massively irrigate to keep it going the way it wants to grow. That’s why trees are so important, because many of them are capable of storing lots of water-reserves under and around their base, and that’s why the current rate of deliberately thinning the tree-count globally of 1 million per hour 24/7/365 is not sustainable. We should really stop cutting down trees and start saving as many of them as possible. Not to mention the ozone damage;

  3. EOS
    Posted August 28, 2019 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Yes, everything in the biosphere is interconnected. Nearly every attempt by man to remedy some “problem” in the ecosystem has had negative effects that weren’t even considered by man before his intervention.

    The elimination of wolves in Yellowstone caused the Elk population to grow. This led to overgrazing on the trees. Without trees, fewer beaver dams were built. Without the dams, there was loss of pond habitat for a number of other species.

    The elimination of DDT made the bird eggs less fragile but allows more humans to die of malaria, dengue and other diseases spread by insect vectors. More birds but less humans with new strains of drug resistant malaria.

    The introduction of Kudzu in the south to prevent soil erosion has led to its proliferation where it grows over everything in its path, destroying it, and it is decreasing the plant diversity.

    They introduced mosquitofish in the Mississippi river to control mosquitoes. The mosquitofish killed off the other small fish, diminished the natural diversity, and were found to be no better than other fish in reducing the mosquito population.

    They introduced the Harlequin ladybug to help control aphids, but instead the parasites that were not harmful to them, but lived symbiotically, did kill off all the native ladybugs.

    Not cutting down the trees in forests, causes a buildup of debri underneath, which fuels the inevitable forest fires and causes far greater loss of trees. Much better to manage forests but harvesting a portion of the trees each year, using the resource, and planting seedlings in their place, while making sure fire breaks are in place. Young growing trees consume more CO2.

    Plants grow well in greenhouses. They use carbon dioxide in photosynthesis and give off oxygen. But they need water and nutrients also – phosphorus and trace elements. There are plenty of places with no shortage of rainfall that sustain large forests. Increased greenhouse gasses could enlarge the food supply for a growing world population.

    The world ecosystem has evolved mechanism which stabilize the environment unless man interferes.

  4. Meta
    Posted August 28, 2019 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Washington Post: “How should we talk about what’s happening to our planet?”

    In the middle of a winter’s night in 2017, Frank Luntz’s cellphone alerted him to a nearby wildfire. The longtime analyst of public opinion opened his bedroom curtains and saw, less than a mile away, flames chewing the dark sky over Los Angeles. Luntz — who specializes in how the public reacts to words — saw scary evidence of a threat that he once tried to neutralize with language. In 2001, he’d written a memo of environmental talking points for Republican politicians and instructed them to scrub their vocabulary of “global warming,” because it had “catastrophic connotations,” and rely on another term: “climate change,” which suggested “a more controllable and less emotional challenge.”

    Last month, with a revised script, Luntz appeared before the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis.

    “I’m here before you to say that I was wrong in 2001,” Luntz said. Nearby was a colorful chart of vocabulary, developed since his polling in 2009 showed bipartisan support for climate legislation. He went on: “I’ve changed. And I will help you with messaging, if you wish to have it.”

    Don’t talk about threats, he told the senators. Talk about consequences.

    Don’t talk about new jobs created by green energy. Talk about new careers.

    And sustainability?

    “Stop,” Luntz said. “Sustainability is about the status quo.”

    Even the committee’s name had a troublesome word in it: “crisis.” It’s flabby from overuse, Luntz thought. If everything is a crisis, then nothing is.

    From a word standpoint, that’s true. And sometimes it feels true in the real world. The phone in your hand has become a police scanner of unfolding crises. The Kashmir crisis, the Hong Kong crisis, the border crisis, the trade crisis, the measles crisis. The crisis of mass shootings, of the national debt, of Puerto Rico, Brexit, the Amazon. And, yes, the climate crisis, formerly climate change — somehow the least tangible but most alarming of the crises, which makes it trickier to talk about…

    Read more:

  5. EOS
    Posted August 28, 2019 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    The climate fluctuates in a cyclical manner. In the 70’s the crisis was an impending ice age, in the 90’s it turned to global warming. If global warming is so evident to have been occurring over the last 200 years, why did Earth Day in 1970 warn of another “Ice Age”? What was it that fooled the climate scientists then? What new knowledge has been discovered that made most of them reach a scientific conclusion that is 180 degrees different?

    The environmentalists changed the terminology to “Climate Change”. This was to avoid future flip/flops that would lessen their credibility.

    In reality, global warming pertains only to temperature, while climate change alludes to long term changes in regional weather patterns.

  6. dogmatic dolt
    Posted August 28, 2019 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    aloha EOS, I love you. Please provide some evidence of ,”The elimination of DDT made the bird eggs less fragile (agreed) but allows more humans to die of malaria, dengue and other diseases spread by insect vectors” as far as I know malaria and dengue fever were not really a problem this far north until climate change began occurring. Other strong pesticides are still regularly sprayed over South Florida (no malaria outbreaks there) and other countries that can afford them. Don’t know what drug resistant stains of malaria has to do with the non-use of DDT.
    “The introduction of Kudzu in the south to prevent soil erosion”–an extremely bad practice brought on by unregulated capitalism. If we follow the Amish rule when it comes to the introduction of new technologies, would not have happened, but in the rush to make a buck, bad things happen.
    “Plants grow well in greenhouses.” Yes they do, but they require constant human intervention, and even with that, are frequently laid bare by uncontrollable infestations, (spider mites come immediately to mind)

    “Not cutting down the trees in forests, causes a buildup of debri underneath, which fuels the inevitable forest fires and causes far greater loss of trees.” We don’t cut down trees because the agri-forest industry in the drive for profit mazimization requires clear cutting. If we followed the German model, no problem–ie. selective tree cutting, but that just does not work when the objective is profit mazimizing, not forest health.
    “They introduced mosquitofish in the Mississippi river to control mosquitoes. ” don’t know who the “they” are but again I refer you to the Amish way of proliferating new technologies

    Thanks EOS, as a scientist you recognize things are interrelated. As a chemist you seem to not recognize the human agency that is involved in all of the things you described. I think that truly reflects your chemistry background. You think all things are the result of chemical interactions (I don’t disagree), but it is insufficient to describe the complex interactions of the natural world in which human agency is at this point in time a major factor. That is why we call it human caused climate change.

  7. dogmatic dolt
    Posted August 28, 2019 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Aloha EOS, human caused climate change was only vaguely understood in the 70’s. And with out the warming caused by humans from the late 1700 on, we probably would have moved into another “mini” ice age. But our constant emitting more and more CO2 forestalled that naturally occurring event. In the 70’s most scientist still believed that human caused global warming was a couple of hundred years in the future. Much like most scientist today hedge their bets and predict the worst climate change outcomes into the next century. It comes from the natural inclination of scientist to be very conservative. Being 90% sure of something, is well, not being very sure. But knowing with 90% certainty that I will not win the lottery is sure enough for me not to bet the house.

  8. Jean Henry
    Posted August 28, 2019 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Calling Dr Larson: EOS is holding forth in malaria now.

  9. Jean Henry
    Posted August 28, 2019 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Fun stuff that should be surprising to no one:

  10. dogmatic dolt
    Posted August 28, 2019 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Aloha JH, thanks for sharing the article. Very interesting and perceptive. I would take exception to this though, “‘industrial breadwinner masculinity.” I think it has more to do with masculinity identifying with the ruling elite. I don’t see any particular “breadwinner” aspect to the analysis, rather it is ruling class folks who are threatened by equality. Many men are conditioned by their upbringing to be submissive towards the rich and powerful. So when rich and powerful people tell them to think A, they have already been conditioned to think as the rich and powerful tell them to think. Has nothing to do with “breadwinner” but everything to do with submission to those who they have been conditioned to think of as their betters. It was an obvious problem for the recently released serfs in Czarist Russian, not so obvious here , but same dynamic.

  11. iRobert
    Posted August 28, 2019 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    It’s going to be interesting to see if Trump’s conduct damages Republicans down-ballot in 2020 as it did in 2018, and if the GOP can successfully reduce the damage as they did in 2018 as well. I also wonder if there will be another clever stealth strategy to do an end-run around the Democrats’ standard strategy in the presidential general. I assume a strategy would have to be different enough from 2016 that the Dems can be prevented from seeing it coming.

  12. dogmatic dolt
    Posted August 28, 2019 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    aloha, here is some good news

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