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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?

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