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The absurdity that is the Paris Climate Agreement

Let us put aside initially any dispute about the science and evidence underlying the Paris COP-21 agreement to limit global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Let us ask instead what the agreement ostensibly would achieve and what it would cost. If we apply the EPA climate model under a set of assumptions that strongly exaggerate the effectiveness of international emissions reductions, the Paris emissions cuts, if achieved by 2030 and maintained fully on an international basis through 2100, would reduce temperatures by that year by 0.17 of a degree.

The US contribution to that dubious achievement—the Obama climate action plan—would be 0.015 of a degree. Add another 0.01 of a degree if you believe that the Obama pseudo-agreement with China is meaningful. (It is not.)

paris climate agreement

Activists gather in Seattle, Washington for a climate science march | @RLTheis via Twenty20

This effort to reduce GHG emissions would impose costs of at least 1 percent of global GDP, or roughly $600 billion to $750 billion or more per year, inflicted disproportionately upon the world’s poor. Would those arguing that the US should preserve the Paris status quo please explain how it can be justified simply as a straightforward exercise in benefit-cost analysis?

And about those emissions promises: They are incorporated in “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDCs), which few supporters of the agreement seem actually to have examined. If, again, the goal is some unspecified reduction in global GHG emissions intended to moderate future temperature increases, then the Paris “strategy” is preposterous because the agreement does not and even in principle could not contain a mechanism to enforce the INDCs.

More important: Most of the INDCs promise GHG emissions cuts relative to a “business as usual” baseline, that is, relative to a future emissions path unconstrained by any policies at all. Since emissions are closely correlated with economic growth, a nation can “achieve” its promise by overestimating future economic growth slightly; when future growth proves lower than projected, the same will be true for GHG emissions. Thus will the “commitments” be met without any actual change in underlying emissions behavior at all. INDC fulfilled!

The Chinese commitment is particularly amusing. They promise that their GHG emissions will peak “around 2030.” How high will that peak be? No one knows. What will their emissions be after the peak? No one knows.

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But, you say: Is there not a looming crisis? Well, no. It certainly is true that anthropogenic climate change is “real” in the sense that increasing atmospheric concentrations of GHG are having a detectable effect, important evidence of which is declining temperatures in the lower stratosphere.

But the surface and lower-atmosphere temperature records are not consistent with a looming crisis view: Surface temperatures have been roughly flat since 1998 (or perhaps since the early 2000s, as 1998 was a strong El Niño year). The satellite record is very similar. More generally, the record of temperature anomalies since the late 19th century does not correlate well with increasing GHG concentrations; how, for example, do the proponents of GHG reductions propose to explain the warming from 1910 through roughly 1940?

Almost all of the climate models have overestimated the recent temperature record. Global temperatures appear to be on a long-term upward trajectory, but the degree to which that trend is anthropogenic is far from clear, as the earth since roughly 1850 has continued to emerge from the Little Ice Age. The degree to which warming over, say, 1977–98 was anthropogenic is unsettled in the scientific literature, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its fifth assessment report (AR5) has reduced its estimated range of the effect in 2100 of a doubling of GHG concentrations from 2.0–4.5 to 1.5–4.5 degrees C.

More to the point, there is little evidence of severe or even “strong” climate effects attendant upon increasing GHG concentrations. Increases in sea levels have been roughly constant at about 3.3 mm per year since the early 1990s, despite increasing GHG concentrations. There appears to be a close correlation between sea levels and the El Niño/Southern Oscillation. The data presented in the IPCC AR5 for the 20th century are not consistent with the crisis view, and increases in sea levels appear to have been more or less constant for the past 8,000 years. For the more recent decades: As we do not know the extent to which rising temperatures are anthropogenic, the same follows for temperature effects on sea levels, as the latter can be due to ice melt and thermal expansion not anthropogenic in origin.

The data on the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extents are mixed. Relative to the 1981–2010 average, the Arctic sea ice in recent years crudely is below or at the bottom of the 95 percent confidence interval surrounding that mean, although the newest data show that the 2017 Arctic sea ice is at the same level as in 2006. For the Antarctic, recent years are above or at the top of the confidence interval. There is some evidence that the eastern Antarctic ice sheet (about two-thirds of the continent) is gaining mass, while the western ice sheet and the peninsula are losing mass, with a net gain for the continent as a whole. There does not appear to be an accepted explanation for this phenomenon in the peer-reviewed literature.

There has been no trend in total US tornado activity since 1954, and a declining trend in strong-to-violent tornadoes. There has been no trend in the frequency of tropical cyclones since the early 1970s, no trend in the frequency of global hurricanes, and no trend in tropical accumulated cyclone energy (crudely, the destructiveness of cyclones and the cyclone season), but an increase in accumulated cyclone energy in 2016 to the level observed in 2006. The annual number of US wildfires shows no trend since 1985. The Palmer Drought Severity Index shows no trend since 1895. There is no correlation between US flooding and increasing GHG concentrations. IPCC in the AR5 is deeply dubious (Table 12.4) about the various severe effects often hypothesized (or asserted) as future impacts of increasing GHG concentrations.

Back to the agreement: Apart from the absence of an enforcement mechanism, notice as well that the agreement contains no actual target for global reductions in GHG emissions. Instead, the agreement simply lumps together the dubious INDCs submitted by the individual governments, which again may or may not represent actual future emissions reductions.

Not to worry, say the proponents: The agreement puts in place a review process and recalibration of targets every five years. That means, obviously, that the initial promises might not be met; precisely how is it that the revisions five years from now, and five years after that, ad infinitum, will prove any more meaningful than the “landmark” promises just made?

What is blatantly obvious is that this “review” process has nothing to do with emissions reductions; it is instead a mechanism guaranteeing endless meetings and Conferences of the Parties and permanent employment for the climate industry into the indefinite future. As an aside, the monitoring is to be done in part with satellite surveillance; am I alone in noticing the Big Brother flavor of this exercise?

Is there a plausible reason that the US should remain a party to this charade? No, obviously, and President Trump has three central paths to an exit. The best would be submission of the agreement to the Senate for ratification and a certain defeat; this course would preserve the Senate in its role of treaty ratification, thus strengthening our constitutional institutions.

The second would be a withdrawal from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, of which the Paris agreement is a part, an action that would fulfill Mr. Trump’s commitment to “stop all payments of United States tax dollars to UN global warming programs,” including the green climate fund, the purpose of which is to put the less-developed world on welfare rather than the road toward free markets.

The least preferable course—but still vastly better than the Obama policy—would be a withdrawal from the Paris agreement itself in accordance with the four-year schedule specified in the treaty. This option is the least preferable because it would ratify the Obama claim that the Paris agreement is a mere executive action not requiring Senate ratification.

Because the central ideological goal of the climate industry is an elimination of fossil fuels, the planet will never be saved and the goalposts will be moved continually. Accordingly, the Paris agreement is silly and destructive as a strategy to engender environmental improvement, but it works beautifully as a mechanism to transform the climate industry into a perpetual motion machine. Mr. Trump would be wise to reject it.

Discussion (31 comments)

  1. DrZ says:

    Until the Europeans can do the following, taking action to thwart “climate change” is down right silly at best and dangerous at worse.

    – Quantify man’s contribution, more importantly the effect on the climate of man’s contribution.

    – From that quantification, be able to determine the effect of CO2 reduction by man in the future.

    Until we understand what’s happening at this level, we could waste a lot of human resources and end up doing nothing and it’s not impossible that doing nothing could be our best course of action.

    So little known, so many people ready to fire then aim.

  2. Kot says:

    Global warming science it is booming industry, and people involved in it live well of this “science”. They produce only that evidence which supports their views. Urbanization and and overnight surface with man made materials increases probably locally temperature more than increase of heat trapping emmisions. No one talked about geological evidence. We are in the approachingend of a brief interglacial period. In last 2 M years we had 7 glacial periods taking roughly 85% of this time, the rest being interglacial is inevitable that the next glacial period is due. If our antropogenic activities can delay it for just little bit, that will be best for humanity. Both Hitler and Stalin had their scientist proving racial, and Kommunist economy superiority, respectively. Follow the money, Al Gore is worth hundreds million $.

  3. greenblue says:

    The real absurdity is Mr. Zycher assuming that his wisdom exceeds that of the entire world’s leading experts on climate change.

    Scientists just published an entire study refuting Scott Pruitt on climate change:

    1. Robert says:

      The study you cite refutes Pruitt’s claim that there has been a leveling off of warming (whatever that means) over the last 20 years. The study shows that Pruitt’s statement was incorrect because ….. because the El Nino of 2015 – 2016 raised temperatures. In other words, the rise in temperature was caused by natural forces, not man…..something these objective leading experts tried to hide. Santer et. al. are not ‘scientists’ searching for the truth. THEIR climate ‘science’ has become a religion of lies, deceptions, and fraud.
      There is nothing in their so-called ‘study’–a study that was submitted, peer reviewed and accepted in a month!! (suggesting the paper was surely refereed by one of Santer’s warmist co-authors)–that refutes what Zycher writes here.

      1. greenblue says:

        Robert, you should assume that Mr. Zycher doesn’t know what he’s talking about. For starters, ask yourself: Does he have any kind of background in any kind of science, much less climate science? When was the last time he spent time in a science classroom or laboratory? There, you’ve got your answer…if you want to wake up and figure out how likely it is that he is right and 97+ percent of the world’s scientists are wrong.

        1. Steve Johnson says:

          “Does he have any kind of background in any kind of science, much less climate science? When was the last time he spent time in a science classroom or laboratory? ”

          Fallacy: Adhominem

          Also, there is no 97% consensus. that is a fallacy. That you do not know where this number is derived from suggests you do not understand the arguments.

    2. Ah, yes. The Washington Post., of course, and they say that global warming has warped the earth’s crust? That’s a new one. Sounds like Sierra Club saying in 1968 that there would be biblical food riots and wars fought to “thin” the population in the 1980. According to Al Gore the ice caps should have been long gone by now. “A child born today will see the end of mankind”. fudged climate data. Much of the science which contradicts the dire storyline of catastrophic global-warming due to fossil fuels never sees the light of day. Sen. Whitehouse of RI actually wanted to criminalize such research, and brought charges against several scientists. Crazy stuff. How can we rely on anything?

  4. Mike says:

    Mr. Green blue,
    The scientists you are talking about are all making a ton of money off the CC discussion. It is interesting how the scientists who are retired call CC a fraud and how the younger ones are all on board for the $$$.

    1. greenblue says:

      Mr. Mike, you need to check your facts. I know that most Republicans have been led to believe that there is disagreement within the scientific community, but you’ve been misled. The facts are that there is almost 100% consensus (i.e., 97+) within the scientific community. Check with an expert or two, not Mr. Zycher. He doesn’t qualify as an expert. BTW I’m not an expert either. But I know how to determine who is one…and who is not, and Mr. Zycher is part of the latter.

      1. Mike says:

        Science is based on evidence not consensus.

      2. Robert says:

        John Cook, author of the 97% consensus paper doesn’t even have a degree in climate science. His paper has been totally discredited ….. except for the Dem-left media and the warmists crowd masquerading as scientists for whom AGW is a religion. And you criticize others while drinking the CAGW kool aid.

        1. greenblue says:

          Excellent example of how you (and many others) are being misled by fake news. It’s a free country and you can CHOOSE to believe anything you wish to believe, even things that aren’t true. However, your misguided thinking will not change the fact that there is overwhelming agreement within the scientific community. BTW not believing in climate change is not the most important example of people being ill-informed. The most important problem is you and others being misled about the consensus within the scientific community. Once again, YOU are being misled.

      3. johnDavis says:

        GB, you are extremely uninformed. Michael Chrihton had an excellent lecture at Caltech that explained people like you who don’t know what science is and why your “arguments” expose your ignorance:

  5. BillD says:

    I’m a scientist and professor. The evidence that CO2 is warming the planet was already overwhelming in the late 1970s when I was studying for my science Ph.D. The Paris Accord is not the answer, but it’s a good start. The more we delay the higher the cost of effective action and less that we can do to prevent costly damage.

    1. Robert says:

      And in the late 1970s, “climate” scientists were the false prophets of global freezing.

      Your post misses the point entirely. That CO2 is a GHG that warms temperatures is well known and well supported by the science, but that is not the issue. The issue is how much does man-made activity contribute to warming. And on this score, there is NO evidence that man, as opposed to natural forces or, for that matter, cow farts, is the primary cause.

      That all these sky-is-falling ‘scientists’ are willing to commit hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, further crushing the middle class in this country with soaring green energy costs while denying poor folks in undeveloped countries the opportunity to climb out of poverty, to a ’cause’ for which there is no evidence shows how intellectually and morally bankrupt the religion of climate science has become.

    2. johnDavis says:

      The Vice Chair of IPCC admitted that what they do have nothing to do w/ the climate, it’s about wealth redistribution.

      I also doubt you are a scientist because real scientist know what science is. As MC said at Caltech:
      “I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

      Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world.

      In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”.

  6. Adam Neira says:

    “Man Made Climate Change” is a fraud.

    See the brilliant work of Tony Heller/@SteveSGoddard.

    Why should poorer nations be shackled with templated “international laws” that will stymie their general welfare and actualisation?

    POTUS Trump should withdraw the USA from the Paris Climate Deal tout de suite.

  7. The science was settled long ago by the United States Navy. Field measurements done in the 1950s showed that a 300 m path of air at sea level absorbed all energy that earth radiates at the main 15 µm absorption band. There was ZERO transmission. More energy than 100% cannot be absorbed. See the extremely inconvenient Chapter 5 in The Infrared Handbook.

  8. SensibleCentrist says:

    Mr. Zycher does an excellent job of inventing facts to support his arguments out of thin air. His post contains far too many innaccuracies to even bother to list them all. He picks and chooses his words in order to deceive. Fact: most independent studies estimate that the Paris pledges will reduce the peak of temperature increase to 3 degrees C. Not where we need to go, but a start. Fact: AGW hits th globe’s poorest communities the hardest. Fact: if implemented via a revenue neutral fee on carbon, there is zero cost to GDP growth, and if revenues are used to reduce distortionary taxes, the net is a boost to GDP growth, per Prof. Dale Jorgenson at Harvard. Fact: Arctic sea ice continues to drop. The Antarctic continues to melt and could potentially cave off sections, exposing melting glaciers to the ocean which are presently trapped, thus releasing enough water to raise sea levels rapidly. Fact: natural forces today would be nominally flat to cooling, not warming. So the % contributed by man is, by definition, in excess of 100%. I would like to know why a respectable institution like AEI keeps a science denier like Zycher on its payroll. Follow the money. My guess is the fossil fuel industry makes large contributions to give his wacky theories the spin of respectability. Shame on AEI.

    1. Dimsdale says:

      The arctic ice, unlike most of thst in the Antarctic, is not on a landmass. Therefore, its wayer is already contributing its part to the sealevel, and its melting will not change sealevels. Check it out in your next icrd tea.

    2. Tom says:

      How can the part contributed by man possibly be more than 100%. What are we; Gods? Planetary masters?

  9. GeneL says:

    Scientific consensus? I wonder what the consensus is of those who do not receive government and foundation grants to study warming/cooling/change/whatever.

    1. greenblue says:

      Same as that who do. Once again, there is OVERWHELMING consensus. And, the only reason that YOU do not believe there is is because you have been fed misinformation by the right wing media.

      1. johnDavis says:

        Consensus is the absence of scientific argument.

        Eisenhower warned about government funded research – he stated it always comes out the way the politicians who fund it want it to come out. That’s why your side changed the data w/ Climategate.

      2. johnDavis says:

        That’s not true. Those who disagree are subject to extreme harassment by those on the payroll/gravytrain.

  10. james says:

    Please can you tell me why the state of Fla has been underwater a dozen times that we can record, all before the industrial revolution

    1. greenblue says:

      It has to do with trends. Whereas, there may have been occasional floods in the past, TODAY is the trend is undeniable. It’s a problem that’s getting progressively worse. If you don’t understand the difference, I (and no one else) can’t help you.

  11. Bob says:

    Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees. This agreement was never going to be the end of the road. No, there would be a Paris 2, Paris 3, etc. attempting to claim further reductions from further transfers of wealth from the US to other parts of the world.

    In fact, this whole game is the perfect con. Claim an existential crisis, propose the solution, collect money, build bureaucracies, and when the warming doesn’t occur, declare victory. Of course the bureaucracy has to stay in existence and the money collection needs to continue, forever.

  12. johnt says:

    Ah, but think of the prospects of rubbing sticks to generate heat, such nobility, Mother Gaia will be so happy.

  13. Dimsdale says:

    What, exactly, is the “correct” sea level? In the last interglacial period, sea levels were 15-18 FEET above present levels, and hundreds of feet below current sealevels during the glacial periods. As noted, we are at the geological cycle for the current interglacial period. A delay os yhis would be beneficial to most developed natios and the world’s food supply.

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