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Prof. Roger Pielke Jr.: ‘Trump pulls out of Paris, Trump wins. Trump stays in, Trump wins’

Dr. Roger Pielke Jr.


Will he or won’t he? There has been much discussion of whether President Trump keeps the US in the Paris Agreement. If we are having this debate then Trump has already won.
Much of climate debate (at least in the US) is about symbols, and Trump has roundly routed his opponents on this turf

So think of the Paris Agreement not as a policy framework, but rather as a potent political symbol.

As a symbol, here is how the politics works: Trump pulls out of Paris, Trump wins. Trump stays in, Trump wins. Fun game, huh?
In a perceptive piece @jmcurtin writes: “The only White House climate debate is between those who want to use the Paris climate agreement as a branding and lobbying opportunity, and those who favour leaving it altogether.”

Similarly, President Trump has made a big deal of reversing Obama’s Clan Power Plan. This too is a symbolic action. According to EIA, the impact of the CPP is pretty marginal:main

  • In fact, its projected impact of the CPP is far less than market prices for fossil fuels, again according to EIA:chart4
  • Consider that the CPP would likely have been tied up in the courts during a Hilary Clinton administration and you get … symbolism.
  • Advocates for more aggressive climate action should use the opportunity afforded by the Trump presidency to fundamentally rethink climate policy in a way that would be politically robust.


  • Did the recent Science March help to bring people together? Early evidence says: probably not.
  • After failing to get Bret Stephens fired from the New York Times, the nation’s leading climate scientist, Michael Mann (@MichaelEMann) has focused his vitriol on cartoonist Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame (@ScottAdamsSays).
  • I can’t believe I just wrote that. (Seriously, if you are not yet blocked by Mann, go over and read his Twitter feed for a glimpse into the world view of the nation’s most important climate scientist.)
  • Pro tip: If you don’t want to be viewed as analogous to a religious fundamentalist, don’t go after cartoonists.

  • Here is an interesting paper on how science assessments treat minority or divergent views (not well).
  • Are low-energy light bulbs now in such wide use that they are influencing total US energy use? These guys think so.
  • new paper in Science suggests that the notion of “Global Warming Potentials” blurs temporal trade offs that are inherent in policy.  (Duh, I testified befoe Congress on this a long time ago – PDF).
  • A great talk at Oxford University on the relationship of climate change and violence (watch 3:30-6:30 if you are time limited).