Friday, December 30, 2016

Arguments for Climate Action that may Resonate with Trump and other Republicans

Acting on climate change should be a matter of common sense instead the GOP and the incoming Trump administration are opposed to climate action and many even deny the veracity of anthropogenic warming. However, there are some compelling reasons why even ideologically intransigent Republicans may want to consider reassessing their climate denial.

Logic dictates that we cannot afford to ignore the costs of climate change.  A robust economic argument can be made in support of climate action. The majority of Americans accept climate change and a number of cost-benefit analyses reveal that it is far less expensive to act than it is to wait. The longer we wait the more it will cost. Investing in the low carbon economy has also been found to create jobs and stimulate the economy.

A recent Bloomberg article explored arguments for climate action that may get through to some members of the GOP.

As explained in the article, increased US efforts to curb emissions through investing in new cleaner technologies will grow the economy and make America more competitive, China's Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin explained. "That’s why I hope the Republican administration will continue to support this process," he said.

Although the idea that the GOP could embrace science and support climate action seems impossible there are historical precedents that indicate the party is capable of rational thought. There was a time not too long ago when the GOP's policy positions on climate change were informed by science.

Prominent Republicans including Ronald Regan and his Secretary of State George Schulz supported the IPCC process. Schulz is one of the most prominent Republicans who continues to voicing concerns about the need to act on climate change.

The logic for acting on climate change comes from staving off some of the worst (and most expensive) impacts of global warming.

"The potential results are catastrophic," Schulz said in an interview with Bloomberg in 2014. "So let’s take out an insurance policy."

Outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry, who helped secure the Paris Agreement, said the majority of US citizens back action on climate change and he stated that no government has the right to polticize climate science.

"No one has a right to make decisions for billions of people based solely on ideology," Kerry said. He then went on to point out that this is a national security issue,"Climate change shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It isn’t a partisan issue for our military. It isn’t a partisan issue for our intelligence community."

It is also possible that we may be able to tap into Trump's desire to protect his own interests. Such self-interest has caused him to prepare for sea level rise by building a seawall at his golf course in County Clare, Ireland.

Perhaps the President Elect's self-interest can be leveraged for climate action. However, it is far more likely that Trump will simply ignore climate change in favor of the political gains he can make through denial.  The party to which Trump belongs is also likely to keep on deriding science and denying the veracity of anthropogenic climate change.

The era of US climate leadership is coming to an end and never before has the decline of America's global preminence been more likely.

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