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US quits Paris climate pact (bbc.com)
517 points by antouank on June 1, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 393 comments

This is one of those situations where you should be shaking your head, even if you're a climate change denying conservative or a fussil fuel industrial interest.

The Paris pact was pretty toothless: it was a step forward, but heavily aspirational. Indeed, one of the stated complaints of conservatives was that it did nothing to enforce compliance. The Trump Administration could have just as well ignored it without formally reneging on it and forced the next administration to deal with the egg on the face for failing to meet the USA's commitments.

But instead he's seriously undermined people's ability to trust in the United States maintaining its international obligations for anything except the shortest periods of time. To be fair, what he's done already with NATO is far worse. But this underlines the reality that the United States government is so unstable that it's unable to uphold any coherency in policy or meet its stated commitments.

If you're a small country who's been trusting the USA as a solid ally against regional competitors, you're looking at this and going, "well, maybe I should be focusing more on ties with the EU/Russia/China/India."

It's honestly pretty humiliating for the USA, even aside from the fact that we've just fucked the next generation just to give the finger to elitist liberals and scientists.

> The Paris pact was pretty toothless: it was a step forward, but heavily aspirational.

It is important to know that the reason the Paris agreement is aspirational only is that it was necessary in order for the US to sign.

And the reason for that is the US political system. Any commitments would have had to be ratified by the US senate, which was deemed unlikely. Actual commitments had to be deferred to later agreements.

There is a whole string of climate agreements going all the way back to 1992, all building on another. (Therefore just pulling out of one of them isn't necessarily straightforward.)

But that doesn't make sense? The Paris agreement was NOT ratified by the Senate.

Exactly. See article [1], it lists all the weaknesses of the Paris agreement and why it was so weak. US, sorry, it's actually US' president, seems to act more and more selfish - it's almost humiliating to watch this as a European.

[1] https://theintercept.com/2017/06/01/will-trumps-slow-mo-walk...

Yes, the Paris pact was toothless. It was never going to work, just like Kyoto didn't work. So what's wrong with pulling out of it?

Consternation over the Paris accord is, in my opinion, elitist liberal virtue signaling. (Here in the DC/MD/VA area, everyone will complain about this move at Starbucks sipping on lattes while driving one hour each way to work from their McMansion in the exurbs. God forbid we do anything that might require lifestyle changes, i.e. have some real hope of working.)

To me it signifies another nail in the coffin of the American-led rule based world order. In the 20th century the US carefully established an international framework based on the rule of law. In a mere four months that has been thoroughly undermined. Apart from the morally bankrupt policies of pushing down the effect of climate change onto future generations, in the short term it also signals to countries they don't need to play by the rules. Effectively echoing what Russia and China have been saying as well. This might actually hurt the US economy a lot more than it will gain. I hope I'm proven wrong, but it seems the American Century has officially ended.

I saw one serving senior officer on twitter comment "this must be what suez felt like to the brits"

My history prof used to say that Sir Anthony Eden was the last Prime Minister to believe the United Kingdom was a superpower and the first to prove that it wasn't.

To be fair, it's not that hard to make bad historical analogies.

"This is what Dwight Clark's catch in the 1982 championship game must have felt like to Ringo Starr."


No its when the decline of the UK as an imperial power became obvious not some rounders player and the least musical beetle.

Why is this Suez? How do you know it's not the British losing a battle in 1761 or something? I mean, there were probably prognosticators at that time saying, "Charlie, did you hear about that British defeat by the French by the old Ohio River. By God they're finished as an empire. Done!"

We won't know the impact this has on anything for a long time. In a decade it probably isn't going to matter. Just seems like a huge overreaction to compare something like this to Suez.

If you really want to get into why it's a bad analogy, we can talk about how Suez was the result of the Egyptians nationalizing the canal and then the new superpower (the US) rebuffing the British when they tried to take it back. Yeah, that was a sign of the end of British power. Seems like this incident is the US taking the ball and going home, with no real response from other nations other than protest. If anything it tells you how much power the US still has.

...but I just liked my Dwight Clark joke. The Catch still haunts me as a Cowboys fan.

No offence you don't seem to have much knowledge of post ww2 history.

Sure, but you didn't know about that catch, did you?

Come on HN. Guy can say "you don't know anything about history" and not even back it up, but as long as it agrees with your biases, upvote. Make a dumb joke? Downvote.

You're better than that. You've all got access to the same wiki.


As an online discussion continues, the probability of it all being blamed on Yoko Ono approaches one.

But Trump did not pull out of Paris because it's toothless. He pulled out because even a toothless, largely symbolic agreement about climate change is against the core tenets of his supporters, i.e., that climate change is a liberal hoax.

I know it, Trump knows it, and we all know it.

Pulling out of it is indication that the USA's politics is primarily driven by virtue signaling among different segments of its governing elite, not by policy or objective reality.

If you believe the USA should be involved at all on the international stage, this creation of new public knowledge is a big detriment to that end.

> If you believe the USA should be involved at all on the international stage, this creation of new public knowledge is a big detriment to that end.

The belief that the U.S. needs to be involved in the international stage is based on the fallacious assumption that international cooperation can fix climate change. There is no scenario in which that happens.

Without fundamental technological leaps, we'd have to decrease the standard of living in the developed world to reduce emissions while accommodating increased standard of living in the developing world. The math doesn't add up.

> The belief that the U.S. needs to be involved in the international stage

It's in the financial interests of the US to be involved on the international stage. I listened to Trump's speech today and heard nothing but "Boohoo, it's so hard to be America". The reality is that the US is the gorilla in every room - we have the largest economy, largest military, and American hegemony has been a massive benefit to the country. Countries bend over backwards to gain access to US markets and millions still aspire to move here looking for better opportunities.

The whole situation reminds me of a quote from Interstellar - "We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars. Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt."

We've giving up our global leadership for the sake of a few extra dollars in our pocket now - never mind the cost of inaction or every bit of scientific evidence that tells us something must be done. Even the Department of Defense believes that climate change is real and will have significant consequences for the US.

When did American exceptionalism turn into "It's too hard so I'm going to do nothing"?

> When did American exceptionalism turn into "It's too hard so I'm going to do nothing"?

That's been a painfully common refrain in the current generation of political discourse (though the generational line is difficult to pinpoint; there seem to be as many young people talking about it as 60 year old lifetime senators).

Climate change? Hard to deal with, we should do nothing.

Gun control? They will take all our guns, or take none, and the second amendment said I could have guns. There is no middle ground.

But the root cause is polarization; rather than middle grounds, shades of gray, or compromises, everything in the current political climate seems to boil down to black or white, right or wrong, with no space between.

It's... Hard to watch, some days.

Your ignorance is breathtaking. The US and other developed countries have always taken the lead on environmental policy that has resulted in real change. The most famous is the Montreal Protocol which resulted in the banning of CFCs and saved the Ozone Layer[1]. The policy decision drove technological innovation and created entire new classes of appliances and chemicals which resulted in millions of new jobs.

After the Kyoto disaster, and now this, it is going to be hard to anyone to trust The United States. Past Republican and Democratic presidents may not have fully agreed with their predecessor's foreign policy decisions but they always aimed for consistent outward message. All this does it give China and Russia what they wanted, that the United States can't be trusted as a partner.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal_Protocol

The CFC problem was a narrow one, and the Montreal protocol was implemented a decade after development started on CFC alternatives. At the time Montreal was implemented, there was a clear picture of how to get from point A to point B. Climate change is in comparison a moon shot. We don't know what will work and how it'll work. There's not some single thing we can ban and fix the problem. It calls for structural change and changes in peoples' way of life and the political system can't achieve that.

"climate change is in comparison a moon shot"

This couldn't be more apt. It took a nation-state level of engineering to make it work, but the science (broadly speaking) was pretty well known. I believe that a similar nation-state scale funded engineering project to address climate change.

Unfortunately - to torture the analogy even further, we don't currently have a moon base and we've not sent a human outside of LEO since then. Maybe a grand nation-state effort is doomed to fail? I hope not.

I respectfully disagree on this. The moon shot was a specific engineering challenge, with a clearly defined goal.

Decarbonizing our economy is vastly different in two ways: 1) a multitude of approaches and engineering solutions rather than a single path, 2) huge amounts of industry across the world (10s of millions of people) rather than a small (thousands) focused team. A nation-state effort like a moon shot is doomed to fail at something like this. We need lots of experimentation, lots of failures, and a few successes.

This is better solved through market approaches. This is what we've been implementing over the past years. We subsidize carbon neutral tech through tax credits (negative tax) rather than placing a positive tax on carbon emission. This is less than ideal, but at least it equalizes things.

Climate change isn't a moon shot. We know how to fix it. Tax carbon emissions and provide tax benefits and subsidies to convert energy infrastructure to solar, wind, and nuclear power, and to convert the automobile fleet to run on electricity.

None of the technology required for this is magical. It's all developed and proven and deployed. It's on the market right now. It just needs to be scaled and we need to get over the adoption hurdle. Once that happens it gets exponentially cheaper. Compare the price of a flat panel display today to one 20 years ago and now look at the price history curves for solar panels and batteries.

Once we get over the adoption curve this stuff will be cheaper than fossil fuels. That's how industrial scaling works.

You might have been able to make your argument 20 years ago. The situation with fossil fuels vs. alternatives today is a lot closer to the situation with CFCs at the time of the Montreal accord. Back then conservatives cried about how we were no longer going to have refrigeration or air conditioning and today they're crying about how doing something about climate change means going back to pre-industrial times. It's total nonsense. EVs are better than internal combustion cars.

Citation needed. Solar, wind, EV and now even electrical storage are being jump started with tax credits.

Solar, wind, EV and now even electrical storage are being jump started with tax credits.

Were. At least if Trump gets his way:


> The U.S. doesn't need to be involved on the international stage.

I disagree in large part, though I do think the world would be stabler if the USA took much less military action and was a bit more respectful of zones of influence of other countries.

But even if I strongly agreed, I'd think the USA should make an orderly retreat from its existing obligations. Instead it's creating vacuums of power and chaos based on fits of pique by a literal maniac.

> The fallacy here is assuming that international cooperation is going to solve climate change.

It's worked on other issues. And political environments drive technological change.

But, yes, I agree it's a particularly thorny issue, and I wouldn't say I'm too optimistic of its probability of success compared to other international collaborations. But that's something to bemoan, not something to celebrate.

> There is no political fix. Only technological ones.

Technological fixes will not be adopted unless climate-related externalities are internalized into transactions, because of the tragedy of the commons. A political fix is a necessary prerequisite to the adoption of any technological fix.

Energy consumption is one of the largest costs of every human activity, there is already incredible incentives for everyone to reduce consumption. Energy efficiency has increased for every country despite the lack of a common political framework. [1]

[1] http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/...

But improving efficiency reduces cost, which can sometimes actually increase overall use.

If we're going to see reductions in emissions for economic reasons, we need emissions to cost something.

> A political fix is a necessary prerequisite to the adoption of any technological fix.

Political "fixes" are by nature temporary in the scheme of things. Regimes come and go, governments rise and fall, etc. They can possibly serve as useful incentives in the short term to drive certain changes, assuming there is sufficient faith in the longer term stability of the political "fix". Such faith has been shaken due to various reasons.

Technology, on the other hand, does not regress so easily IMHO. A technological advance that is sufficiently compelling - say fusion power for the sake of a dramatic illustration, can make previous "dirtier" technologies obsolete, and price them out even in the presence of improperly calculated externalities.

This, very much this.

Another way to put this: the asteroid does not care if your financial markets have factored it in the models or not. It just hits you.

There are very real physical limits to technological fixes anyway: https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/2012/02/the-alternative-energy-ma...

That site thinks that a source that could produce less than 25% of total foreseeable global demand is worthless. I find this to be a rather strange conclusion. Two sources, each producing 24% of foreseeable global demand, could cut emissions and fuel use by 48%, which would be huge.

It is hard to implement a technological fix without political will.

Politcal can reserve funding, can align businesses and academics, can make that technological windfall we haven't yet invented a little mote likely.

What if there is no technological solution, or we fail to find it? Having political agreement and unity to fallback on is a good thing. Even if we do something terrible to the planet, we can mitigate that together, instead of ignoring it or making it worse.

Trump is the antithesis of unified political will. He's a symptom of a deeply divided society.

The focus on finding consensus and political will on climate change is putting the cart before the horse. There's no consensus or deal making to be had with this degree of division and anger.

I agree. Not being able to get it doesn't change the fact that we need it.

What if there is no technological solution, or we fail to find it?

Then we're going to see a dramatic transformation of the planet due to significantly rising global temperatures. That is the grim reality.

> The U.S. doesn't need to be involved on the international stage.

Yeah, it really does. The US might be a big economy, but not-US is an even bigger economy.

And the US is an ever-decreasing share of the global economy - it's shrinking in relative terms. China overtook the US in World GDP share at PPP in 2014.

> fallacious assumption that international cooperation can fix climate change

ITER for example is an international project which if it were successful would change the energy landscape and by extension the climate change issue dramatically.

This and projects like this requires international cooperation.

Also look at when the world united to outlaw HCFC refrigerant. That made a huge difference to the planet's outlook.

The cost of measures to respond to climate change's consequences dwarf the costs to prevent it. Look at the 5.5 billion euro flood barrier that was built in venice. That is just to protect one city. Now multiply that over all cities on all coastlines.

We can't afford to do nothing, it is simply too expensive.

Even controlling for the harm to the environment, you have to consider the harm to our foreign policy if we become unable to uphold any agreement for more than 4 years.

I'd hope our counterparts from other nations would be sophisticated enough about our Constitutional system to understand that what one President can agree to without enshrining it in law through Congress, a later President can just as easily disregard.

Irrelevant. I don't care why your country is not trustworthy.

Exactly. Other countries have working systems of government. The US needs to get their shit together.

I agree. And it's true that the Paris agreement should have gone through the treaty ratification process. But I'm not convinced our president understands that difference and I definitely do not believe that his behavior is motivated by a comprehension of those differences rather than the content of the agreement.

> Without fundamental technological leaps

Sounds like we'd better get working, then? Emissions controls to stimulate private innovation, plus public research grants to help longer-term innovation. We need to set up incentives wherein fundamental technological leaps are the goal.

Even if climate change is a figment of people's imagination, it's a shared figment, and leadership affects how the US is perceived.

China is rising, and China is In. That means China will be leading where the US is off on its own.

That's flat out untrue. The first set of targets from the Paris accords will probably be met without any action by Trump simply due to the fact that we are switching from Coal to Natural Gas and Wind/Solar power. The next set of targets would require either alot more Solar, or a commitment to replacing the rest of the coal plants with Nuclear. None of these are either a huge technological leap or a major reduction in our standard of living.

I agree that technology is our only hope now, but only because we cannot stop conservative's occasional grip on power and their love of oil money. If technology doesn't save us eventually war, famine and the collapse of the world order will stop carbon emissions but by then it will be too late.

So you feel like your individual observations in the DC/MD/VA area validate the rejection of a global climate accord?

Unless these elitist liberals choose to sit in the dark and not consume power, walk to work (likely impossible, so maybe just not work since working also probably produces a lot of CO2) then there is no reason to attack the problem at a global or national level?

What happens to the power companies if 50% of people go on a power strike? Shut down coal plants and immediately start investing in renewable before they go bankrupt? What happens to the economy while all these liberals are putting their money where their mouth is?

Why the hell would you not push to transition from one source of energy to another without completely upending the entire system and economy? Individuals are not going to make drastic changes in their own power usage when the biggest consumers (business, industry, etc) are not going to follow and many of their fellow citizens will not follow. It would be a spiteful empty gesture (which it seems that you understand) that would just make our lives harder and damage the economy.

My guess is that your position, like most peoples position comes down to psychology. My guess is that you are a frustrated, spiteful person (at least inwardly) whose opinion on climate change is entirely emotional - people you don't respect are on one side so you are on the other. If they aren't as intelligent as you then how could they be on the right side of this issue? This is the attitude I see from most climate change deniers - initially it will be about economics, or the data (ie citing long-debunked statistics) or this and that, but eventually you get through all that and it comes down to spite.

I get frustrated by people too but I realized long ago there was no point in letting human nature (on a macro-scale) frustrate me - I might as well get mad at a pet for doing something I don't want them to do. I try to take that same mindset with climate change deniers but its hard to be so dispassionate when people are willingly making decisions like this that hurt EVERYBODY, and hurt the weakest the most just because you feel isolated.

I'm frustrated and spiteful because I'm an environmentalist. At least republicans are internally consistent: they're not willing to do anything about climate change because they don't think it'll happen. Folks here in DC/MD/VA in contrast profess to believe that this terrible thing is going to happen, but they're not willing to actually do anything that will solve it. Who exactly are the crazy ones?

That are lots of things we can do to attack climate change. None of those things are on the table.

> I'm frustrated and spiteful because I'm an environmentalist

Hard to believe.

> Folks here in DC/MD/VA in contrast profess to believe that this terrible thing is going to happen, but they're not willing to actually do anything that will solve it. Who exactly are the crazy ones?

Classic conservative argument. "I know you all are fake, despite not really knowing you all. This proposal isn't going to work, and I won't show you my alternative plan, but I know what to do. Listen to me! Don't try anything aspirational regarding the environment or civil rights. You'll fail and that will hurt me!"

> At least republicans are internally consistent [in denying climate change or at least saying we should do nothing about it]


> Who exactly are the crazy ones?

The people denying climate change, or at least saying we should do nothing about it.

Complaining about people at Starbucks sipping on lattes is conservative virtue signaling.

Complaining about virtue signaling is conservative virtue signaling.


You want to have a beer with someone who disparages "elitist liberal virtue signaling"? Enjoy. BTW I have to wear glasses to write this, sorry about being a filthy "four-eyes".

The parent comment was flagged dead probably because he forgot to add a /sarcasm tag.

The primary impact of pulling out is it creates a situation in which the United States is not a leader and allows for a power vacuum. A vacuum that China is already happily taking advantage of in order to become a prominent world leader.

It isolates the US and allows opportunities for Russia and China to gain clout at our expense.

Iterative improvements versus starting over. Particularly with something like environment change.

It took years just to get the Paris language settled. But yeah, let's start over. With Trump at the wheel. The great but actually spectacularly bad negotiator.

Because we know that the course that this administration does take in lieu of Paris will likely worsen climate change - it's not like they are going to introduce a carbon tax instead. It's symbolically relevant as an indication of the direction we are going.

Also, a significant chunk of liberals who are concerned about this are people who have made often difficult carbon-reducing lifestyle changes consistent with their beliefs on this issues, even at the cost of traditional comforts (large houses, big cars, etc).

Lattes really have nothing to do with this issue, except as some kind of cheap-shot stereotype unrelated to the issue, and last I heard, McMansion-filled exurbia leans pretty strongly conservative:


I'll take virtue signaling over an explicit rejection of virtue ten times out of ten.

You sure packed a lot of liberal slurs in a really small and useless comment.

Do you think the US would ever accept being held accountable by the international community on anything like this?

US has a long history of upholding its agreements compared to other countries. Germany & France cannot even uphold spending 2% of GDP for NATO: http://money.cnn.com/2017/05/25/news/nato-funding-explained-...

Agreed in 2006 of 2% target, then had to reiterate the target in 2014 since many members did not meet 2% target. "Members that fell short at the time promised to meet their obligations by 2024" .. it is an obligation not some "aspirational goal" as some have mentioned below.

Time: http://time.com/4680885/nato-defense-spending-budget-trump/

Economist: http://time.com/4680885/nato-defense-spending-budget-trump/

WSJ: https://www.wsj.com/articles/nato-calls-for-rise-in-defence-...

The agreement does not even call for European nations to spend 2% on NATO, it calls for them to simply spend 2% of their GDP on building up their armed forces. When Trump claims that the failure to meet this future goal means that they owe the US billions of dollars simply illuminates how little he understands about NATO in general.

Yeah, that Trumpian factoid has long been debunked. Formally true, but 2% is also an aspirational goal, to be met a decade from now. That parallels, at worst, Trump making it harder to meet the Paris pact's requirements a decade from now.

But of course you know all that already.

Time magazine: http://time.com/4680885/nato-defense-spending-budget-trump/

Economist: http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2017/02/daily-c...

WSJ: https://www.wsj.com/articles/nato-calls-for-rise-in-defence-...

All disagree with you, but of course you must know better sources and just did not add them. I'm sure.

Those agree with him. The 2% is an aspirational goal. Here is an actual quote from the Economist article you linked to:

"At a summit in 2014, NATO reiterated its commitment to the 2% target. Members that fell short at the time promised to meet their obligations by 2024."

It is not 2024.

Here is the actual NATO statement from the 2014 summit: http://www.nato.int/cps/ic/natohq/official_texts_112964.htm

Here is the actual text of the relevant portion of the statement:

"Allies currently meeting the NATO guideline to spend a minimum of 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defence will aim to continue to do so. Likewise, Allies spending more than 20% of their defence budgets on major equipment, including related Research & Development, will continue to do so. Allies whose current proportion of GDP spent on defence is below this level will:

    halt any decline in defence expenditure;
    aim to increase defence expenditure in real terms as GDP grows;
    aim to move towards the 2% guideline within a decade with a view to meeting their NATO Capability Targets and filling NATO's capability shortfalls."
Whoever told you that NATO countries were failing to meet their commitments was lying to you so that you would support them politically. Consider not trusting them.

From your own source:

"At a summit in 2014, NATO reiterated its commitment to the 2% target. Members that fell short at the time promised to meet their obligations by 2024."

But, again, even in the worst light possible, a country not spending enough on military spending to meet some stated target doesn't compare to tossing out treaties based on a whim.

From the perspective of the US Constitution, the Paris Accords are most certainly not a treaty. Treaties require a 2/3 vote of approval in the Senate.

The tradition of significant international agreements made deliberately short of "treaties" goes back to FDR/Churchill and the Atlantic Charter, if not further.

The proof is in the pudding, here. This is a giant bat signal that the USA is unable to uphold its international obligations. Preen about the Constitution all you want, but that doesn't change the fact that people are going to take the USA's public commitments with a giant grain of salt now, and this will shift smaller countries' orientation to relatively trustworthy large countries, many of which are actively hostile to American interests.

The main confusion seems to stem from the fact that the 2% goal (agreed upon in 2014, to be met by 2024) is not "money for NATO", but how much eah member state shall spend on their own armies.

NATO is a military alliance, not a seperate army.

Why not look at the original source?


"Allies whose current proportion of GDP spent on defence is below [two percent] will... aim to move towards the 2% guideline within a decade...." [emphasis mine]

That was 2014, so the goal is 2024.

Congrats to the US, but this is not a fair comparison. This is not a US vs Germany/France thing, this is a US vs the entire world thing. Maybe if the USA would pull out of NATO, that would be fair, but even so... the 2% is a guideline.

The US has released a huge percentage of the total CO2 released into the atmosphere in the past 150 years. Donald Trump is not a believer in climate change, and that is why he wanted out, which is frankly insane from the president of the most powerful country in the world.

It's a guideline and spending money does not magically solve problems. The fact that the USA as a complex, bloated, bureaucratic military industrial complex does not mean that it's the right way to build a military.

All the money the USA spends on its military and after 17 years they've failed to suppress and army comprised of hastily-trained insurgents armed with 70 year old rifles and rudimentary explosives. And this is hardly the first quagmire of this sort the USA has been involved in.

The harsh reality is the US govt doesn't want a strong NATO. If France and Germany decided tomorrow to spend similarly to the US on defense there would be a collective gum swallowing moment in DC on both wings. It would mean that the EU isn't so toothless and that inevitably in some future that the US would have to go toe to toe with them in a military conflict. Regardless of outcome of such a conflict, it would mean more spending in the US to ensure against not only China and Russia (nominally) in a fashion far more unsustainable than it is today. The last time Europe was a legitimate region in terms of military power was the last world war. And we know that wasn't a pretty sight for all.

> he's seriously undermined people's ability to trust in the United States maintaining its international obligations

What if that is in fact the goal? Many people in Trump's administration are openly anti-globalists and many of his voters and supporters have the explicit goal of "exiting" globalism.

I mean, that is the goal. I don't think he's consciously trying to undermine the international order, but he's certainly got backers (Bannon; an autocrat of a certain large Eastern European land empire) who look at this with glee.

Yup, it's a win-win from their perspective, since they consider both environmentalism and internationalism as evils.

If the US was able to survive the loss of the Vietnam war and the Bay of Pigs where many people who bet their lives on the US died after being abandoned by them, the US will survive this as well and American credibility will be just fine in the long term.

Basically, the rest of the world will have to learn that getting the US to agree to something that is opposed by a significant group of Americans is a losing proposition. The fact that the Paris climate pact was not even submitted for ratification by the Senate, should tell you that there was significant opposition.

Uh, the Paris accords are hugely popular in the U.S. [1]. The word is that even most corporations, oil companies among them, supported staying in the pact. Everyone was on board with this, except Trump and his far conservative base. And as long as power gets passed between groups with fundamentally different interests (or even basic notions of reality), no one will trust U.S. for basic security if they have half a choice.

[1] https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2017-06-...

"Hugely popular" is an overstatement. "Everyone" excluding "Trump and his far conservative base" lost the election.

And part of Trump's message was that the U.S. shouldn't be the guarantor of the security of the rest of the world. That was a hugely popular proposition with his supporters.

I don't think "hugely popular" is an overstatement if the number is really nearly 70% in favor.


From the article,"An overwhelming majority of Democrats, 86 per cent, are fans of the deal, while only about 51 per cent of Republicans say the US should take part in the accord, the programme reported."

So, not 70% of his supporters, especially considering not all Republicans voted for him, and some Democrats did.

And the math is funny anyway. I haven't seen recent registration numbers, but last I looked, it was roughly 1/3 Democrat, 1/3 Republican, and 1/3 unaffiliated. It might be 40%, 30%, and 30%, not sure; the point is that I seriously doubt 70% of the people who voted for Trump support the Paris treaty, and certainly this article does not say that, though it tries very hard to imply it.

The gov't of the US should represent its people, not just the side who won.

And the people of the U.S. should support their president, even if they didn't vote for him.

Sorry, I'm not making or am swayed by emotive arguments, and no one should be. Nothing in the constitution or in established interpretation of it require citizens to support the president.

And nothing in the Constitution requires the president to follow popular opinion according to British papers. That's the job of some portion of the members of Congress.

Remember, Trump lost the popular vote by a couple million, in an election where about half the country voted, so his base in general could be estimated at about a fourth to a fifth of the country. But if we take the "more than 5 to 1" figure from the linked article as valid, then it implies that even a bunch of people who voted for Trump liked the accord. My impression is that people didn't like Trump for policies having to do with the environment or climate change- they liked his stance on immigration and general outsider status.

The not-being-responsible-for-other-countries bit is also a popular policy of his (arguably, its his most widely-appealing position altogether), but I'm confused that you think that that applies to the Paris accord. The accord didn't mandate us giving anyone else anything, and climate change is going to mess the U.S. up as much as anywhere else.

If the Paris accord was so popular, there was plenty of time to ratify it the constitutional way before Trump was elected. Apparently it wasn't that popular. And not everyone believes climate change (f/k/a global warming) theory.

In other words, the rest of the world has to learn that it's pointless to make agreements with the United States that have any political implications. Or even agreements that have bipartisan support (see: NATO two years ago).

Which puts us in solid agreement, but you're foolish if you think this doesn't seriously advantage countries that are capable of maintaining agreements over the USA.

> If the US was able to survive the loss of the Vietnam war and the Bay of Pigs where many people who bet their lives on the US died after being abandoned by them, the US will survive this as well and American credibility will be just fine in the long term.

That isn't a hypothesis you want to stress-test, though. "My reputation survived the last great gaffe, therefore it will survive the next one" is a very poor long term gamble.

The US didn't exactly abandon its allied in South Vietnam: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Frequent_Wind#Result...

It lost the war, but that's not the same thing as just walking away frivolously, on whim.

Every child of this top comment has been downvoted into grayness. Some of those comments have substantial points to make. What's going on?

I basically agree with scarmig, but it seems there's not much space for contrary opinions around here right now, which bothers me.

FWIW, I've been upvoting rayiner's comments. It's unclear why they're being downvoted aside from misdirected rage at Trump.

> But instead he's seriously undermined people's ability to trust in the United States maintaining its international obligations for anything except the shortest periods of time.


Although it's worth noting that his international arrangement was never ratified by the legislative branch, as was done in most other countries. This was ratified by Executive Order.

If the morale of the story is for other countries to beware of treaties not ratified by the Senate, honestly, that's not so bad.

This decision has zilch to do with whether it's good environmental policy or will create jobs. All it has to do with is Trump's desire to feel like Alpha Man of Action when he goes to some rally/playdate in Iowa and can present a reason for everyone to tell him how incredible he is. That is the alpha and omega of policy making in this administration.

Actually it has to do with the Republicans desire to be self-sufficient in all maters science. They want all scientific matters to be determined by their own sphere of influence.

This allows them to deny reality for any matter of science whether it's global climate, abortion, education, gun control, economics and any other issue which requires science to produce evidence in order to select the proper course of action.

It all these cases and more the scientific facts are diametrically opposite to the direction of Republican and conservative legislation.

By making science the stuff of the devil it leaves a gigantic opening for them to stuff their nonsense into the heads of the gullible right wing base.

I agree that the dynamics you describe account for some of the reason Trump's base is primed to latch onto him.

But as far as Trump himself goes, he's not really a Republican. He is solely concerned with receiving praise and feeling tough. There is no master plan; that is really all there is to it.

> But as far as Trump himself goes, he's not really a Republican.

Yes, he is. He may not have a particular devotion to an ideology you'd like to pretend defines the Republican Party, but the US electoral system structurally produces duopoly between parties too broad to have coherent ideology.

Generally speaking Republicans tilt fiscally and socially conservative. I'd be fascinated (no sarcasm) to hear an argument on how party platform and most members are social liberals.

To put another way, if you averaged out the beliefs of all who consider themselves Republicans, Trump himself doesn't believe most of it, certainly not dogmatically.

To put another way, if you averaged out the beliefs of all who consider themselves Republicans, Trump himself doesn't believe most of it, certainly not dogmatically.

I think dragonwriter's point is that this is also true of most (many?) other Republicans.

That is because the previous president decided to unilaterally bind the country to the agreement rather than seek treaty ratification from Congress. It is a risk that ruling by executive decree entails.

I support the Paris Agreement, and I also somewhat agree with this point. I'm sad that the country can't seem to get its act together such that it could actually move this through regular order. Likewise with executive actions. We've gotten to a point where the legislature's navel gazing and strict partisanship makes it impossible to actually get anything done, either conservative or progressive.

As a country we need to be able to have responsible, sober debates and actually vote through policies instead of just working through whoever happens to be in the Oval Office. It's an unstable way to do things.

That said I would argue it's mostly unstable because the Republican party has been hijacked by its extreme right wing. It's astonishing to see that even with control of both houses they can't internally agree on policy enough to get things done. Much less find some sort of bipartisan compromise/consensus. Dems have their problems too, but I think the bulk of the responsibility lies on the very hard right impulses of the likes of the Freedom Caucus and the Ted Cruzes of this world.

The Republican party seems split between the freedom caucus (less government) and the establishment (not sure what they stand for ... Maybe corporate and military interests?). The Democrats are more-or-less unified around the principle of increasing the size and scope of government, particularly at the federal level.

> The Democrats are more-or-less unified around the principle of increasing the size and scope of government, particularly at the federal level.

No, pretty much zero Democrats see increasing the scope of government as principle. You might plausibly argue that most Democrats agree with the statement that there is at least one area where government needs to expand it's size, role, or influence (though they often wouldn't agree on where or why.)

Then again, most Republicans, even much of the Freedom Caucus, agree with that too, which is why despite small government rhetoric they often vote for expansions in defense, law enforcement, and security spending, staffing, and/or powers.

I think there is a difference in principle, but it's not that Democrats have a principle that growing the government is inherently good: it's that they don't have a principle that growing the government is inherently bad, while many Republicans do. Thus, Democrats would consider proposals for spending mostly in terms of their individual benefits and costs, whereas Republicans - at least the consistent ones - would apply those only after starting from a baseline of disfavor. They may still care enough about some spending priorities that they see the good as outweighing the bad: that isn't inherently contradictory, though considering how much we spend on defense, there's certainly room to question whether it's a rational policy overall.

Other countries don't care about post-facto rationalizations by partisans to demonize the other side in domestic policies.

The USA cannot be trusted as an ally. That is the takeaway here. Saying that "but Obama's worse than Trump!!!" isn't changing that and is entirely besides the point.

ETA: And, for what its worth, the Senate ratified NATO, and that hasn't stopped Trump and Republicans from doing their utmost to sabotage it. It's laughable for folks to pretend like this is some deep matter of principle.

I don't think the parent poster was trying to say 'but Obama was worse', he was just pointing at the fact that an Executive Order can be undone by a successor.

Kind of a moot point IMO, given the current state of the GOP. Had Obama gone to Congress they probably would've reflexively voted it down anyway. The current GOP is willing to damage America's trustworthiness on the world stage and this is more proof to the point.

I don't know if most mainstream Republicans would've done something as drastic as this after the accord had been agreed to but Trump is basically the head of the party now so here we are.

If the Congress is unwilling to pass your agenda, then you usually just have to deal with not having your thing. That's the point of separation of powers. Going the extra-constituional route as a matter of course fed the GOP's reflexive opposition.

I don't think that's what "balance" of power means. If you have one branch that for all the things says "NO!", then I think it's natural for the other branch to say, "I'll try it a different way instead of trying to compromise, because there's no point in even trying." That's the implicit threat that makes the legislative and executive branches negotiate and get stuff done.

The difference in the climate today is that one party was essentially saying no to anything Obama might do. Even if they privately agreed or could find some ways to agree with him, they knew that if they so much as smiled in his direction they'd get primaried and kicked out. That climate poisons the relationship between the branches, and gets you to non-standard processes which we can all agree are sub-optimal.

For a balance of powers system to work you need to actually have a working relationship between the branches. It's not going to work if one says, "NO!" then expects the other branch to take their toys and go home. In the real world, we all have to accept compromise toward our objectives, and if we don't we'll get disaster for all our objectives down the line.

Note that I think mostly Republicans seem to be on board with NATO, Trump is outside the mainstream of all the parties there.

Re:NATO, it's an unhappy marriage, I agree. But there's plenty Republicans could be doing that'd be appropriate given how out of bounds Trump is regarding NATO--some kind of censure or resolution--but they're not willing to do it, for the sake of partisan comity.

Congressional Republicans don't like it, but given the set of options they have they choose to allow Trump to take the hatchet to NATO. Standing in the way of that would prevent them from focusing on priorities they place higher than the Transatlantic Alliance.

I do not wish my statement to be taken as a partisan one (although I do admit to being conservative), but rather as a general observation about the dangers of executive decree.

Exactly. If US's as a superpower can flip-flop every 4 years, then any promise it makes in the long term is not trustworthy. A country loses its vision, cannot lead the world. And it will be ludicrous to have a country with severe infighting to determine the future of your own country. That is just too much of a fantasy.

> Other countries don't care about post-facto rationalizations by partisans to demonize the other side in domestic policies.

Which is a key reason why international cooperation is so dangerous. It's insensitive to domestic politics and law.

But other countries can and do maintain international commitments and cooperation. The USA did for most of its lifetime. That tool is increasingly less available to the USA, as a result of this (and NATO).

The U.K. just pulled out of the EU because it was panicked about supernational institutions coopting democracy.

There are things that must be dealt with at the international level.

Not cooperating is more dangerous - - as far as blanket statements go.

> It is a risk that ruling by executive decree entails.

The problem is the gross disconnect between Local, State, and Federal interests. Polls have support for the Paris agreement well into the majority, beyond the margin for error; were it to head to something like a referendum, the US would have signed onto the Paris agreement.

And even that being the case, President Obama was well aware of the fact that it never would have been ratified by the Senate.

The international credibility problem also reaches critical levels when you consider that the United States has 4 year terms but signs onto 20 year agreements, when the political sphere is so radically split. Every four years, the International community is forced to hold its breath as one of the top world superpowers seemingly flips a coin as to whether or not it will uphold its bargains. It is worth noting that this wasn't always the case; it was standing tradition that you followed through on a previous administration's agreements, simply to maintain credibility.

Whether it is a function of Trump himself, his die-hard base, or a large group of confluent factors (my vote is for this one), this tradition of maintaining credibility despite political cost holds very little water with the current administration. Worse, this is exactly what his base seems to want and clamor for. They are painting a political climate where the country takes a 180 degree turn (rather than, say, a 120 degree curve) every 4 to 8 years.

How long can a country in a global economy at the scale of the United States maintain that strain without snapping? It'll be interesting to watch, if nothing else.

The Paris Agreement was signed under the authorization of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which was ratified by the senate.

The Paris Agreement is either a treaty all on its own or it's a significant change to an existing treaty. Either way, the US Constitution requires ratification by the Senate.

Other countries such as Brazil had the treaty ratified by their senate.

Arguing that we now have a treaty that allows us to make other treaties without following the Constitutional process ... well.

I think the agreement itself was drafted to specifically avoid having to be considered a new treaty in a US context. So from a legal standpoint, I think it's incorrect to say "this is a treaty and must be ratified by the Senate". I will heartily agree with you that perhaps that shouldn't be the case, and also agree that we need a functional system of government where these machinations aren't necessary to pass policy, but I'm not sure there's a constitutional requirement here per se.

So if say China were to commit to something with more teeth, the US would in essence be complying since we buy much of our good from there. Would that be a fair statement?

I'd say that's a perpendicular issue to what I'm talking about. It's more about China, Russia, etc. having credibility when making agreements, which makes them better partners when making international deals. It's like, do you want to date a girl (or boy) who agrees to be monogamous one week but regularly changes her mind when the opportunity arises? Or someone who's willing to follow through with her commitments?

That said, one aspect that sort of touches on that is now the USA has no say in the agreement as it evolves. If China and the EU keep on building on their strengths in green tech, they could very easily ratchet up the agreement to be much more favorable to their economies, plausibly including heavy fees on all exports from noncompliant countries. (That's one major reason fossil fuel interests mostly wanted us to stay in it.)

I don't understand how you think the NATO meeting was bad. Countries should pay their fair (and agreed to!) share towards NATO.

NATO isn't a pool of money, no one "pays" anything for it. It's a mutual self defense treaty (and a command structure for executing such an operation). Trump did nothing to squeeze money out of anyone at that meeting, nor would it have made any sense for him to have done so.

By very conspicuously refusing to endorse Article V in his speech, however, he called the US commitment to NATO self-defense into question (question!) for the first time in the 68 year history of the pact.

If you happened to be a east european power thinking about invading a small NATO member (in the baltics, say), this is a huge gift.

That is true but every country is supposed to spend 2% of GDP on defense, and only the US and 4 others actually do. How Trump handles this and talks about this is asinine, but there is a basis for it.

All countries in NATO have promised to spend 2% of GDP by 2024, yes.

But many NATO countries have had a decrease in military spending since 2006 when this agreement was signed and have shown no real intention to get up to this level. Now it's perfectly reasonable to say that this is fine and the 2006 agreement isn't that big of a deal. It's also very reasonable to say that good relations are more important than everyone meeting their goal and a clear commitment to Article 5 is essential. But sergiotapia's comment that countries should pay their fair share is also reasonable and ajross's response that NATO isn't a pool of money misses that point.

The are other contributions beyond simple military spending.

International development and accepting refugees, for example. These both help maintain peace.

With all due respect, that's missing the point. If you believe that NATO is a good thing and successfully deters aggression against its member states, Trump's near-abrogation of America's treaty commitments objectively did far, far more damage to that deterrence than Germany underfunding its army. Ergo, Trump's nonsense about "paying" and your defense thereof seems terribly insincere. Either you don't believe in NATO's mission, or you are confused about how it works.

I mean... what exactly are you arguing here?

To clarify, the NATO countries all agreed to spend 2% of GDP _by_ 2024.

And that's fine. Obama was making that case as well.

But this is international diplomacy here. You don't publicly berate and embarrass your allies especially when those countries were already on track to meeting the target.

European countries have no intentions to ever pay the 2%. For example the Belgian Government reiterated right after the G7 that it had no intention to meet that target and plans instead for 1.3% towards 2030. [1] I work in Brussels and I very often heard members of the European Commission / Parliament tell me how nice it was that the USA was paying for everything defence related.

[1] http://www.lavenir.net/cnt/dmf20170526_01010744/otan-on-ne-d...

Again, though, that's a completely insincere argument. If you are worried that NATO is being weakened and undermined by underfunded member militaries, the corrective course of action is to strengthen those militaries and very much not to announce to the world you might not necessarily honor your treaty obligations if they don't. That weakens it further.

Trump doesn't care what Belgium spends on defense. Trump is crapping on NATO because Trump (or one of his patrons, ahem) wants a weak NATO.

Disagree. I think Trump is saying, "You'd better be willing to pay for your own defense. If you won't, don't expect us to bail you out," precisely because Trump feels like NATO nations keep expecting America to pay for a strong military so that they don't have to. So he threatens them into a new mindset, where they have to beef up their military because they can't count on America riding in to their rescue any more.

You want to say it's going to backfire? Fine; you're quite likely right. You want to say it's risky? Shortsighted? Yes, and yes. But I don't buy that it's because Trump is in Putin's pocket.

That doesn't sound like disagreement to me. I didn't say anything about "pockets", just that the undeniably biggest benefactor from intra-NATO bitching like this is the nation that literally just invaded another in the region.

The US never gets paid here, so I'll saying it again: Trump is not trying to strengthen NATO here. He's trying to weaken it. You can decide for yourself why.

not all European countries

the UK, Estonia and Greece meet their obligations here, please don't lump us in with the freeloaders

The ironic thing is that a big part of what Made America Great in the first place was military protection of trading partners. Withdraw that protection and the trading partners now have less reason to give sweetheart trade deals.

The same point can even be made more cynical and still work: America's military dominance of its trading sphere led to a uniform perception of stability and thus to an environment where we could borrow essentially free money from the rest of the world. Take that stability away and the world desire for treasury bonds dries up, and suddenly it becomes harder to finance that huge military in the first place.

Basically, Trump is kicking over the house of cards as we watch.

Well, countries agreed to spend 2% of their GDP by 2024. Furthermore it's not (yet) obligatory for member states to spend all budgets on armed forces but e.g. on humanitarian aid as well. Nato is supposed to act as an organization of defence but as an organization of shared values to guarantee piece. http://money.cnn.com/2017/05/25/news/nato-funding-explained-...

If you're serious, read over [1] for a bit.

[1] https://www.foreignaffairs.com/topics/nato

Repeating this falsehood only demonstrates the extent to which someone materially misunderstands how this works.

Countries were already on track to contributing the requisite 2% of GDP to defence. What Trump doesn't get is that you can't just turn around on a dime and do it. It's a medium term process to determine how to spend such a significant amount of money.

What Trump did whilst overseas was though drive a stake of fear into the hearts of Eastern European countries who are genuinely fearful of Russia.

Germany is exiting NATO. They have already deferred any spending commitment until after BREXIT (UK leaving the EU). I don't think Trump's weird behaviour prompted Merkel's 'We can't depend on them anymore' speech. But bad? meh. depends if you think the demise of NATO is bad.

Any sources for that claim on Germany exiting NATO? Also strange how they didn't seem to make those speeches during the last administration. And the one before that. And the one before that. And the one before that...

Remember, Article V has been invoked just once: Afghanistan after 9/11. We can debate if that was a good or bad action, but strictly speaking, it's only ever been invoked in defense of the USA.

You reject Angela Merkel as a source? How do you interpret her saying the EU must "take its fate into its own hands" and that they can "no longer rely on the United States and UK"?

You do read Der Speigel? - ran an article weeks ago saying there would not even be a decision on spending until 2020.

From February: "The United States and our international allies, which for so long has been the centerpiece of what is rightly called "The Free World," are facing the greatest threat to global stability since the end of World War II. Security arrangements, like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which for more than seven decades have kept us safe from yet another global conflict, are quickly coming unraveled."

Granted it has not been stated as clearly as the UK's exit of Europe but the writing is on the wall.

For rather earth shattering global events such as leaving one of the most stable and powerful military alliances the world has ever seen, I'd like a little more than "writing on the wall" as evidence.

Just because they say they need to be more self-reliant doesn't mean they're pulling out of the alliance. Even Trump, with whom I disagree on pretty much everything, isn't leaving the alliance despite his overheated and irresponsible rhetoric. And "quickly becoming unraveled" is not "we want to leave" it's more "there's a maniac in the white house destabilizing everything that has worked for the past half century".

EDIT: Typo

Do you have any sources for any of this? Hoefnells Gazette maybe? :P

I would not overstate Trump's impact - you will only give him an even bigger head. In reality he is insignificant to policy as he will be gone soon enough. I would say Putin and Snowden were more of an impact.

In reality by 2024 the Bundeswehr will no longer be committing troops to NATO missions outside Germany (see above). If it makes you feel better to pretend that they are 'still part of NATO' then fine.

German here - Germany is certainly not exiting the Nato. Quite the contrary. The large part of the German defense forces are deployed on Nato duties. Former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Turkey (supporting the fight agains the IS).

I have quite rightly been asked for sources. Do you have any that state on the contrary? Janes perhaps?


Yes they are now but the shift is towards a European army without NATO. Is Der Speigel not also German? And what has that got to do with it?

How should I have sources for the contrary if this is not even a consideration here in Germany? The Spiegel is German, but what has it to do with your statement?

Yes, there are discussions about a more integrated European defense. Which is not only logical considering the European Union but also a good way to save a lot of money by reducing overhead and duplication and as a result giving better capabilities for the same budgets. There is also the justified question, how far the Nato is defended by having troups in Afghanistan. But no where, the Nato itself is questioned (except perhaps by the US president), but certainly not by Germany.

What it has to do with my statement is that you declared that you are German as if that made some difference to the weight of your argument - you did not present an argument, just an opinion, but never mind - Der Speigel is also German and has a very different opinion to you. How do you account for Der Speigels statement that NATO is unraveling then if it is not even a consideration? What do you make of Muttis speech if it is not even a consideration? I am only going by the zeitgeist in Germany and beyond which is clearly passing you by or is it that leaving NATO so unconscionable to you? I am asked for sources which I provide and you have none apart from your own opinion to which you are entitled but you cannot speak for everyone else and say that it is not a consideration when it is.

The paper is called the "Spiegel". I can only comment on statements I can read, so if you think the Spiegel made a statement that the Nato is unraveling, please provide a link to that statement. The fact that I am a German adds quite some weight to my argument, as I am very closely following politics in my country and I can follow the news sources directly in my native language. So I can understand what Angela Merkel said correctly. And I am not aware of anyone (except the extreme left "Die Linke" asking for leaving the NATO, or doubting the NATO itself. What Angela Merkel expressed was only, that she got doubts whether there is still a 100% commitment by the US to the NATO. As a consequence, the remaining NATO states need to organize themselves accordingly. One option for that would be a stronger emphasis on a united European defense. But that would mean in no way or form "leaving" the NATO.

You do not have a monopoly on understanding. And it is rather arrogant of you to assume your understanding is superior. Your own lack of interpretation of what she said is highly disingenuous especially when taken in context with the plans to concentrate on an EU armed forces, the plan to withdraw Bundeswehr from all foreign NATO missions by 2024, the declaration not to meet the 70bn euros spending by 2024 because according to Sigmar Gabriel, it is "neither reachable nor desirable". These are not the views of extremists, they are the views of government officials.

Europa muss sein Schicksal selbst in die Hand nehmen.

or exactly what she said was in English :

"The times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over as I have experienced in the past few days and that is why I can only say: We Europeans must take our fate in our own hands..."

FWIW and as you must already know being German https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Der_Spiegel is called 'The Mirror' not 'Mirror'! as that makes no sense in German nor English.

> You do not have a monopoly on understanding. And it is rather arrogant of you to assume your understanding is superior.

I do not claim to have a monopoly of understanding. I tried to establish why I consider myself well informed about what is happening in political discussions in Germany. You claimed as a fact that "Germany is exiting NATO". No where did you provide any reference to where your statement is based on. And my answer to that was: there is no indication that the German politics has any intentions of doing so. Being German is relevant here as:

- I am carefully following day to day political discussions. If there were such considerations, it is extremely likely I would have heard about them.

- Living in Germany, I have full access to all media here. I don't know how much of the media coverage is available outside of Germany.

- Being a native German and a resident (living in Munich at the moment) means, I have a very good understanding of the German language. I do not have to rely on translations and can understand original statements with at least no language barrier in place. It would be helpful for this discussion, if you could state your location and whether you are a German speaker.

> Your own lack of interpretation of what she said is highly disingenuous especially when taken in context with the plans to concentrate on an EU armed forces, the plan to withdraw Bundeswehr from all foreign NATO missions by 2024.

Not sure what I should "interpret" but, please provide any reference for these claims of yours. Yes, there are some considerations for creating an EU armed forces, but they are not even at planning state. There are no plans or withdrawing from the NATO foreign missions. If you think there are, please provide a reference.

> Europa muss sein Schicksal selbst in die Hand nehmen.

Yes. Merkel said that. The video of the speech can be found here: http://www.zeit.de/video/2017-05/5451383425001/angela-merkel...

She is saying: Wir Europäer müssen unser Schicksal wirklich in die eigene Hand nehmen. Natürlich in Freundschaft mit den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika, in Freundschaft mit Großbritannien, in guter Nachbarschaft, wo immer das geht, auch mit Russland, auch mit anderen Ländern, aber wir müssen wissen, wir müssen selbst für unsere Zukunft kämpfen, als Europäer, für unser Schicksal und das will ich gerne mit ihnen gemeinsam tun.

So this is just a call for a stronger Europe, which does not just depend on the US for guidance and defense. Which is incidentally the thing the US has asked from Europe for years, including raising the defense budgets. There is no hint at leaving the NATO. Looking at the defense situation of Germany that would be just bizarre. The state of the German military is not compatible with these thoughts. Since the reunification, the size of the German military has been greatly reduced, partly because of the requirements of the 2+4 contract, partly of the changed situation in the world. What is left of the armed forces, is mostly on NATO duties. So there is no doubt of our commitment to the NATO. But for sure, there are discussions about increasing our defense efforts (as asked by the NATO), but equally, but equally, whether all of our military should be tied up in NATO missions.

> FWIW and as you must already know being German https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Der_Spiegel is called 'The Mirror' not 'Mirror'! as that makes no sense in German nor English.

Yes, I am aware. I was just referring to your spelling of the word "Spiegel". By the way, the magazine itself uses its name with and without the article: http://www.spiegel.de

Do you have any reputable source to link to regarding your statement about Germany eixiting NATO?

I have been reading articles in Der Speigel for months now hinting at it. I do not know whether you regard that as reputable or not. Merkel's speech - well she did not say 'we are leaving NATO' true, and she is not Germany but she just said that Europe could no longer rely on the United States and the UK and that Europe would have to make her own defence arrangements in the future. So no. LOL.

The United States of America spent a hundred years building up a global leadership position. President Trump has effectively destroyed it in a mere four months.

China is adeptly stepping up to fill the void left by the United States. Last week Trump did his best to alienate America's long-standing European allies, who now feel that they are on their own against Russia's expanding European power plays. So Europe is turning to China as well.

Chinese and European leaders have scheduled a meeting tomorrow to state how they intend to expand efforts to fight climate change. Meanwhile, USA is isolating itself with Syria and Nicaragua as the only three countries to stay out of the Paris accord.

Perhaps the US isn't a good global leader. It is, after all, only the aftermath of WW2 that left enough of a power vacuum for two countries at the edges of "proprer civilisation" like the USA and Russia to take the central position as the world superpowers.

I wouldn't be sad if the USA returns to a position of only interfering within its sphere of influence in North and South America.

Being a global leader isn't merely about the power to do so, but about caring about other countries to the point that you see them as directly intertwined with your own. The USA, for better or worse, has always viewed other nations as 'other'.


The US is a nation of immigrants. It doesn't see other nations as "other" any more than any other nation, and probably less so because we're very culturally diverse.

But yeah, if you want to go back to the days where benevolent places like the British Empire, Imperial Germany, and the USSR ruled the world, have at it. Because they were benevolent, right?

The US isn't doing a great job, but if American power gets rolled back, are you ready for Russia to come rolling into Eastern Europe? You ready for the Chinese to invade Taiwan? The US is the only thing preventing that.

It's not ideal but it's not all bad, either.

I think the point was the "America First" policy is antithetical to the idea of helping developing nations. For example, giving aid to combat malaria does not put America First, but it does save lives and build good will across the world.

A great world leader should have no problem using their wealth and power to perform reasonable acts of charity and kindness to fellow nations without an expectation of reciprocity.

Coming from a (very friendly to America) third world country, lemme just say that nobody likes America for it's aid, or any such stuff. Nearly all the goodwill America has is because of it's private sector (which brings prosperity in their own countries) and culture.

All these countries understand that there is no such thing as free lunch, and what America will get by helping is not going to be worth the aid they receive.

You can hear the same sentiment from Israelis to Indians to Egyptians.

Benevolence doesn't make a global leader. Having your fate intertwined with that of others makes a leader. The USA has always had a desire for self-sufficiency, and an economic approach that views any gains made by other countries as a competitive loss.

It is not to say that the USA is a terrible country, or that it is 'evil' or anything so silly. It is simply that the USA does not want a global leadership role, appears uncomfortable with it thrust upon it, and approaches global treaties as something it should either accede to or reject rather than change.

The Paris accords, ought to have heavily influenced by the 'global leader' so the preeminent power would view the treaty as one that benefitted its world view. As it is, the US world view is absent from the Paris treaty---why is that? I'd say it's because the US abdicated its leadership position to the point where European interests and American interests no longer seem to align.

> The US isn't doing a great job, but if American power gets rolled back, are you ready for Russia to come rolling into Eastern Europe?

I think it is a mistake to completely discount the military and economic power of Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. One should remember that historically the German military alone was enough to overrun Russia to the point that the Eastern Front was the site of the most horrific battles and loss of life of the entire war.

> You ready for the Chinese to invade Taiwan? The US is the only thing preventing that.

This is a bit of a tangent. Taiwan is a small island off the coast of the mainland whose government considers itself "Real China" and the far more populous mainland to be the 'rebel forces'. The continued existence of Taiwan is because China finds it useful, not because of any US intervention. If war sparked out, the USA and Europe would likely do the safe and sensible thing by treating it as a civil war within a nuclear power.

All these tangents boil down to "What if World War 3 breaks out?".

I hope for all that is good that WW3 does not break out between nuclear powers, and if it does that the USA will finally stay out of a continental conflict that is nowhere near its borders.

Not sure why this is getting downvoted. Maybe this doesn't hold as much water now, but compared to most countries, the US is pretty light on ethnic nationalism. I trust the US as a hegemon more than most countries.

>The US isn't doing a great job, but if American power gets rolled back, are you ready for Russia to come rolling into Eastern Europe?

Jesus fucking Christ I am not ready, and neither is Eastern Europe. I think everyone remembers what happened last time Russia was in charge over there...

Things change; consider 23.2% of Sweden's population are first or second generation immigrants.

US is ~26% including illegal immigrants now, but was ~35% in 1900 and ~18% in 1970. (First generation immigrants to the US are currently 14%.)

Imperial Germany never had much of a global empire, only a central European one. Places like Namibia and New Guinea weren't exactly powerhouse colonies.

Imperial Germany.... you mean like Koenigsberg?

I think you overstate the case when you say that the US's leadership position has been destroyed. It has certainly been damaged, but the US is still one of the largest, most populous and richest countries in the world. It will have a big seat at the world negotiating table for quite some time no matter what.

The USA will certainly have a seat at the table, just not at the head of the table.

This loss of influence isn't going to be readily apparent, it's precipitation will be subtle and over the long term. It may start as a preference for German or Chinese military equipment, then slowly it preference will begin to shift in areas of finance, agricultural products, energy, etc.

If the USA is no longer able to negotiate favorable trade deals, because of their mercurial nature, then we'll probably see corporations move to foreign countries of influence.

Yes, I agree with "subtle and over the long term" as opposed to "destroyed it in a mere four months."

The effects are subtle and long term. The destruction happened already.

The US has made it very clear that its populace is willing to elect an uneducated populist buffoon, who is happy to break any and all international commitments if it appeals to his base.

Any politician outside the US, from this point onwards, will assume that the US is not a country that can be trusted with any long term plans. (Or, as far as our allies are concerned, with intelligence materials either). It will likely take decades to repair that reputation hit, if it isn't irreparable.

We're not feeling the consequences of it yet, but we will. That's inevitable. You don't suddenly walk into a ballroom, shit on a table, and hope everybody forgets it next week.

isn't it ironic that the power balance is shifting pretty much like climate change ?

The point is that if we elected Trump once, we might do it again. No one is going to trust us on this stuff in the future. China has a "big seat" at the negotiating table too because of their size, but they're not a leader because we don't trust them.

> ... and richest countries

That's considering $18 trillion of its debt?

Yes. Countries debt is an asset, it's not like household debt. US Treasury Bonds are a bedrock of the global financial system.

it is an asset to who holds it, to the US government it is a liability

The net worth of the US is around $124 trillion. That is after subtracting all debts and other liabilities (which are significantly larger than $18T).

>The United States of America spent a hundred years building up a global leadership position. President Trump has effectively destroyed it in a mere four months.

I'm no Trump fan, but the slide in American global leadership has been underway since well before Trump. Probably the first big blow was our unilateral invasion of Iraq under Bush. But even under Obama we didn't exactly right the ship.

And while Clinton would have tried to restore our image, in the long run I don't think she would make a big difference.

Countries used to look to America as the leader of liberal globalism because there basically was no alternative. Now there's a few alternatives.

How is Obama received as a public figure ? he showed immense human qualities over his terms, and tried to be honest in his speech regarding other countries. That's a nice part.

> President Trump has effectively destroyed it in a mere four months.

Trust takes years to build, seconds/weeks to break, and forever to repair.

Why do we need a global leader anymore?

I think even Trump doesn't understand, how big a deal being the global leader is. With power comes the responsibility, however, the opposite is true also. U.S. is steady on the track to lose its influence. It will be interesting, how much other nations/entities could stand up and fill the void. It is however a lesson to all, that it is dangerous to believe and hand over too much power to one single nation, only on basis that of shared values.

Anyhow, the rest of world needs to prepare itself with an uncooperative/isolationist US. I think U.S. is not necessarily a bad leader, but it is a clear fact that it doesn't have the willingness and ability to lead anymore, and the world has to move on.

Some people say Nicaragua boycotted the Paris pact because it wasn't doing enough and that they're already past that.

It's as if participating in the agreement required adopting the metric system ;-)

You're overreacting and falling into what China would love people to believe, that 4 years of bad leadership is equivalent to decades of autocracy.

When Trump is gone in 3 years, it's not gonna be so dire. Stupid short-sighted decision, but it's just a road bump. The Germans and Japanese recovered from WW2, pretty sure the US can recover from Trump.

They recovered be the US saw that supporting these countries and creating strong democracies would be of direct benefit to the US. You know, America First.

I can imagine what would have happened if Trump was around after WW2 - "What - spend all that money on those countries. Forget it. Let take all that capital and reduce corporate taxes".

The fact Trump could become president does pose its own problem to other nations. There is serious issue undergoing in this country. What about a Trump V2? Can people still trust America for leadership, if it cannot contain its internal turmoil?

I have a cleantech startup, and in the industry we see this decision as only having a negative impact on deep red states. Most other states will implement mandates in line with Paris on their own, which will grow their local energy economies (the transition means lots of jobs).

Deep red states that try to slow the transition will just get left behind. Trump is hurting his own base, while not slowing anyone else down. The economics are simply too good to turn back now.

Happy to answer questions. And many companies in cleantech are hiring!

Most of the new renewable energy is coming from red states and it's coming not due to some moral obligation but due to jobs, demand, and price. The Wind corridor may turn Blue for next election. Farmers getting paid 10k a year to lease a wind turbine on their farms is like striking oil that lasts forever. Counties that had been dead due to loss of manufacturing and movement into cities have been revitalized through many new jobs and tax revenues from wind farms. These counties may not have too many votes, but they have a huge representation in the House and we will see environmental friendly Conservatives or even Democrats coming from there.

> Trump is hurting his own base, while not slowing anyone else down.

Whether it hurts them or not this is what many of them voted for. This is what many want.

Would you company be possible without any sort of government support(federal/local/etc), financial or legal?

Would oil companies be possible without the US military defending them in the rogue states they usually extract their oil from?

And that's not even considering the direct subsidies they receive.

In California we will be paying 77 cents per gallon just from taxes. So the price at the pumps would be 77cents lower. From every renewable energy we get tax credits. Yes we pay for subsidies of random things like cattle, corn, and oil, but the subsidies like the PTC and the solar energy credit are much more in comparison. This doesn't mean I don't agree with it. The subsidies have dropped the price of wind and solar considerably and we will see a huge economic boom from relatively little tax benefits. The greatest subsidies we could have right now can actually be accomplished through bipartisan support. Funding for transmission lines can be lumped into the infrastructure bill. $7 billion of transmission lines in Texas sponsored by the current trump cabinet pick Rick Perry brought Texas Wind energy production from nowhere to number one in the country and larger than three states below it in just 6 years. Texas is planning to add more win this year then the total amount by the second highest state has in total. He didn't force utilities to build wind farms. Instead he built the infrastructure to make building wind farms extremely cost competitive. There are a dozen possible transmission lines that would create thousands of jobs and connect wind and solar heavy areas to high density cities. If we can get those transmission lines up, we won't have to worry about government for renewable energy because it will be politically and economically in our benefit to use renewables

Don't forget the massive indirect subsidies of being allowed to pollute without having to pay for the damage this causes to other people's health and property.

Elon Musk just posted that he will, as promised, be quitting the presidential council: https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/870369915894546432

Ballsy move. I strongly suspect this could jeopardize the massive federal subsidies that keep Tesla afloat (and probably Solar City, too). $7.5K per car (which essentially amounts to a 10% per-unit discount out the door) times 84K cars is $630M.

Unless the tax credits are extended (and the likelihood of that was essentially zero already), Tesla is set to hit the phaseout point next year regardless, and will have them go to zero one year later. It's likely that if you reserve a Model 3 today, you won't get a tax credit when you take delivery. So that wouldn't change a whole lot. And assuming the subsidy is eliminated for everyone and not just Tesla, it'll make them more competitive.

I'd say the big danger for his stuff is SpaceX and NASA, and I don't think there's much risk there.

Has nothing to do with being ballsy.

I wish our president could sacrifice something for what he believes is right much like Musk is, if what you say is true.

Now has more time to start another company

Given that he now has a ground car company, an underground car company, and a space car company, I assume the next one will have to be some sort of atmospheric flying car company.

My money is on a water car.

I think he is building his Lotus from James Bond to actually do that.

... with rockets.

That's the convergence phase, where the rocket car, land car, underground car, and boat car fuse into a glorious transportation chariot for humanity's reach for the stars. Can't remember what page that would be in Musk's master plan.

The pictures were awesome.


Boat sovereign state. He can be president too.

#Elon4POTUS and #ImpeachTrump ?

When you make an ultimatum you have to be prepared to carry it out or lose credibility.

Why now? Surely he can not be surprised?

If he did not do it, I would have to find a different car producer for my next car. So, I have to think about it.

I am not sure, if I want to support US companies in this "America first" situation. A country that so much indulges in egoism is really difficult to like.

The US produces Anti-Americanism itself.

I think it is important to distinguish between the US and Trump and his supporters. Musk and Tesla are one of the big driving forces in fighting climate change - the cars are an important step, but long term their storage business might have an even larger impact on moving to renewable energies. So supporting them sounds like a very good idea, especially if you disagree with Trumps climate politics.

Might be.

I myself have US-citizen relatives and I know, that some great people live there.

But it is very difficult to be fond of people who elected such people and who (in big parts of the voters) greatly admire his "America first" propaganda.

I am sure, that this "America first" will harm not only the world, but many Americans and I am very sad about it. And I am sad, that those, that did most of the harm and made a profit from it, will get a free ride again, as it was 2008.

People just don't learn.

(BTW: I wanted to post this reply yesterday, but was hindered by this stupid regulatory system here)

Kind of sad people quit/resign/temper tantrum when they discover opposing views or decisions. I think this was a dumb move by the president but Elon and others originally joined to try and provide insight and influence against opposing viewpoints. Did they expect to get their way all the time?

What is the point of giving advice to someone who will not take it? At some point, anyone in Trump's orbit becomes complicit rather than just being in an advisory role. If Trump is not going to listen to people like Musk on the largest of issues (Paris) then why would Musk stay on the (low) chance that Trump listens to him on other, minor issues?

He hasn't been on the council that long; there's a lot of time left on this term. Plus Elon would have better access to funding to leverage his energy agenda with his own companies.

He could also push for spending the billions that would have went in that deal domestically - more efficient infrastructure, renewables, etc.

It was a bit disingenuous for Trump to describe India and China as top polluters

India (population 1.3 Billion) creates lesser CO2 emissions than the US

China's per-capita emissions is just around half of that of the US

[Edit: replying to comment about pollution and emissions

The Paris agreement is about climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

When Trump talks about polluters and withdrawing from the Paris agreement, it seems illogical to suggest that he wasn't referring to CO2 emissions]

Pollution is not CO2.

When talking about global warming, yes.

To an overwhelming extent.

And this is why the US has so much trouble with climate change as an issue- first it was sulfur dioxide, then lead, then CFCs, now it's CO2. The US has been doing this since the 70's. Now Europe and China want to pretend they care with words, and giving the US's money to the third world, yet every picture of a city in China looks like London in the 1890's and it turns out those oh so green Euro car makers were cheating their emissions tests, but that's not important, what's important is that we hold hands and make pleasant noises at each other.

I don't see how anyone who calls themselves an engineer can stomach when this feel good ignorance is put forward as a solution- this is rearranging deck chairs to the highest degree.

What are you talking about?

Lead is bad for your health.

CFCs are bad for Ozone.

CO2 is bad for global warming.

All pretty much universally accepted.

European cars, with cheating and all, are miles ahead of US cars. And they have been heavily fined for cheating, as they should.

And China has not yet contributed a meager percent of the cumulated US CO2. Not to talk per capita.

The planet is not yours.

Per capita and cumulated are BS measures to obfuscate that China is a bigger contributor, and likely to grow for a while. The first rule of getting out of a hole is to stop digging- the US has, China hasn't.

Let's leave aside if per-capita and accumulated are important metrics or not.

Let's accept that the Chinese are worse polluters than the US.

Congratulations, you are the second worst polluter.

What, did I hear India? Ok, you are just being difficult. Let's say you are the third worst polluter.

What? Did I hear ...? Stop it!

You are one of the worst polluters. Period.

Why do you withdraw?

And yes, you are the worst per-capita and accumulated polluter. In case you were wondering.

Actually not the worst per-capita, but I'm sure you have some way to explain Qatar, Australia, or any other country inconveniently higher on the list.

And this is pollution: https://qz.com/794542/air-pollution-map-by-country-fine-part...

Which makes CO2 seem particularly cherry picked.

I fail to see how the very real reduction in sulfur dioxide, lead, and CFCs is "rearranging the deck chairs". We had a problem, and fixed it. We now have another problem.

The Paris Treaty is rearranging the deck chairs. The others were fixed by plugging the hole in the boat. Plenty of US companies and governmental agencies are working on plugging this hole, but the country as a whole is tired of being hit up to pay the orchestra so the the rearranging can continue as before.

This is sad news. The direct impact on the carbon reduction might actually be not too large, as renewable energies are actually the cheaper alternative, and as many of the American states are pushing for carbon reductions.

The big downside of the US quitting the Paris climate pact is the political signal it is sending. The pact was significant, because it was the first time the world managed to agree on something (except Syria and Nicaragua). Leaving the pact sends the signal, that the US does not want to internationally collaborate on preventing climate change. Most of our todays problems and challenges can only be solved by international collaboration, be they environmental or economical. It would have the better signal, and probably also served the US interests better, if the US would not quit the climate pact.

So Trump is basicly quitting the Paris climate pact for the mining industry, which is mostly automated? Leaving the solar space for China that going to be the leader in solar energy.

I've actually never thought i would say this, but my "admiration" for the US has drasticly declined the last few months. I think this also affects "Silicon Valley".

PS. Am i right that your President only had a one hit wonder with Trump Tower, with daddy's money. Then licensed everything ( the few things he did with casino's failed). And ... He is now the president, because he was in a TV-show? Or am i missing something?

You're missing about three decades of right-wing propaganda. President Trump is the logical conclusion of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Fox News, and other assorted media.

These people systematically created a tribal political environment where facts don't matter, ridicule is the best argument, and Democrats are the enemy. They've been pounding this into the heads of any American who would listen since the late 1980s or so. Along comes Trump, who is the embodiment of all of these traits, and this extensive groundwork pays off. He's constantly wrong, but his voters have been trained to embrace that. He behaves terribly, but his voters have been trained that this is a good thing as long as the target is the left.

And of course denial of climate change, its negative consequences, and the merits of fighting it are one of the core pillars of this propaganda.

Add in the electoral college, which gives a substantial advantage to candidates who can win rural voters, and here we are.

> Add in the electoral college, which gives a substantial advantage to candidates who can win rural voters, and here we are.

Don't forget our ridiculous Congressional system that greatly over-weights the opinions of rural voters. California has 80 times the number of people as Wyoming, yet they both get two seats in the Senate and 1/53rd the number of representatives in the House.

> Don't forget our ridiculous Congressional system that greatly over-weights the opinions of rural voters.

No, it overweights the opinions of voters in low-population states.

Sure, California voters are underrepresented compared to Wyoming voters, but California has about ten times as many people living in rural areas as Wyoming has people in total; Rhode Island is nearly as overrepresented as Wyoming, but nearly as urban as California.

Giving more political power to rural areas is not necessarily a bad thing. One can argue that it is beneficial in that it compensates for the sparseness of those areas and lets them participate in the game on the national stage.

I think the problem with rural areas is not their overly great political influence but rather the fact that they have been abandoned by mainstream politicians.

I don't understand why you need to compensate for the sparseness of those areas. They're people just like I am. Land doesn't and shouldn't get its own say in the system.

Lets them participate in the game? They could still participate if they had an equal voice. Their weight on the national stage wouldn't be huge, since they're only 15% of the population, but getting 15% of the voice for 15% of the population seems fair to me. The rural population is similar in size to the black population. Should we give black people a disproportionate vote so they can better participate on the national stage?

> 1/53rd the number of representatives in the House.

I assume you meant 53 representatives?

mikeash's comment pretty much sums it up, however I'd recommend reading Scott Adams's (dilbert creator) rhetoric on Trump.

Scott Adams definitely is more right leaning than myself, but he writes top notch political analysis. He saw the Trump victory coming a mile away.

Trump is the epitome of "speak to be heard, not listened to", and this resonates incredibly well with the large bulk of the republican party whose party platform is "the blacks", "the muslims", or "jesus (when convenient)". He also resonates well with the republicans who are not stupid, however wealthy and self-interested, because much of republican rhetoric centers on "the rich are going to starve/move to mars if we start charging them taxes!".

Republicans with a libertarian or intellectual bent think he's 100% retarded. Reactionary democrats think he's going to make the world explode. The rest of us left-leaning folks think he's retarded but realize that this is the single best thing that could have happened to ward off any notion younger people might have that the republican party isn't one great big 3 ring circus. Hillary Clinton getting elected would have just been more ammunition for the clowns that think she's corrupt and a literal communist despite being corrupt and center-right by all measures.

It is very unlikely that something like this will happen again in the near future, seeing as all of the old people voting for trump will be dead, and younger people are either blindly liberal, or spooked out of any notion that the republican party isn't a joke.

As to why he is now the president, it is far from being that simple. Him winning really had very little to do with his qualifications as a candidate.

I would phrase that differently.

He was incredibly qualified as a candidate. Huge name recognition, a particular sort of charisma, shameless.

It's the office that he isn't qualified for.

To be honest, when your starting a business. I think to have him as a "business partner" would be a very bad idea also.

That too, but the difference between the previous president and the current one is really light and day.

Even as an environmentalist, I'm okay with this. The political reaction to climate change is a farce. The Paris accord isn't going to do anything, just like the Kyoto protocol didn't do anything. It's just a way for people to feel good without making any real lifestyle changes.

> Even as an environmentalist

Huh? From your comment history here, you seem like much more of a laissez-faire capitalist than any kind of environmentalist.

Some environmentalists are anti-technology types or nihilists, who look forward with pleasure at the idea of humanity suffering for its hubris. The only solution they'll consider is people changing their behavior for moral reasons, which is comfortingly unlikely.

They're not fans of other environmentalists discussing happier ideas, like setting up incentives for economic and technological growth beyond fossil fuels.

This is true, however rayiner appears to be neither the anti-tech/nihilist type of environmentalist nor the "set up incentives" type of environmentalist. (E.g., on the specific issue of climate he explicitly rejects setting up incentives or any other "political fix".)

Rather, he seems to believe that the market will provide for all, even when externalities make that irrational for individual actors in the market without some regulatort regime internalizing those externalities.

Hence, my description of him as a laissez-faire capitalist rather than any kind of environmentalist.

I don't like regulation, in the sense of eggheads sitting around trying to micromanage the market, or thinking that high minded principle insulates them from the market. I think that's a recipe for failure. But you don't need eggheads to internalize externalities. It's easier to just tax bad things, or if the thing is sufficiently unjustifiable, to ban the categorically. Banning leaded gasoline was a great idea. Let's ban coal next. Let's impose crippling liability on companies who pollute the water or air.

The ironic thing is that regulation is bad for the environment. The EPA spends as much time litigating against environmental groups if not more than it does fighting the industry.

You misconstrue my point about there not being a "political fix" to climate change. Obviously we could just ban CO2 emissions. My point is that the set of fixes the political system can generate and the set of fixes that will work are disjoint.

So what? Neither are mutually exclusive.

Is this an endorsement of treaties with actual teeth then? Or are you saying that there needs to be rules that directly change peoples' lifestyles because they won't do it themselves?

I'm trying to understand where you're coming from, usually when people say, "I don't like X because it's ineffectual", they follow it up with a recommendation that they do think will be effective.

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