Will we always have Paris? (The climate deal, that is)
The world is on fire, and Europe is burning mad over President-elect Trump's vow to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. Can he really follow through?
You have to wonder how many campaign promises that President-elect Trump can break before the torches and pitchforks get turned on him. Only since his surprise election on November 8 has there been real talk about how hard it would actually be, legislatively, to really repeal Obamacare -- and how the system would fail if Trump only kept the parts that 100 percent of voters like. The border wall is fast becoming a fence...maybe a nice shrubbery. Drain the swamp? Well, the "decisive" CEO hasn't hired any Cabinet members, but the names being mentioned are mostly retreads. Meet the new swamp, same as the old swamp. His only truly original hire is a racist.
So Trump will have to throw his most rabid supporters some sort of bone. Arguably the easiest of his major promises to keep would be to withdraw from the Paris accord on climate change -- calling for steep reductions in pollution from burning fossil fuels -- that was signed by President Obama earliest this year. Polls show that substantial numbers of U.S. Republicans are at the same place on this as Trump, who famously tweeted that global warming was a hoax hatched by the Chinese.
Still, the logistics of leaving the Paris accord is a lot harder than you might think. What's more, some key people whom you'd generally expect to back Trump on this one -- including the popular Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and the world's largest oil company, ExxonMobil -- actually think backing out of the climate deal is a terrible idea.
Sarkozy said that if Trump abandons the agreement, European countries should impose a 1-3 percent tax on American goods, according to the French newspaper Le Monde. The goal would be to protect European businesses that will be abiding by the global climate agreement from being undercut by US industries that won't be subject to emissions limits.
Mark Serreze, who heads the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., agrees that something odd is going on. Not only are air temperatures unusually warm, but water temperatures are as well. "There are some areas in the Arctic Ocean that are as much as 25 degrees Fahrenheit above average now," Serreze said. "It's pretty crazy."
What's happening, he explains, is sort of a "double whammy." On the one hand, there is a "very warm underlying ocean" due to the lack of sea ice forming above it. But, at the same time, kinks in the jet stream have allowed warm air to flow northward and frigid Arctic air to descend over Siberia.
"The sea ice is at a record low right now, for this time of year, that's one thing," Serreze said. "And why it's so low — again, there's so much heat in the upper ocean in these ice-free areas, the ice just can't form right now. The ocean's just got to get rid of this heat somehow, and it's having a hard time doing so."
So forgetting Paris -- to steal a phrase from Billy Crystal's worst movie (which is saying something) -- seems like a blunder of epic proportion. Kind of like repealing Obamacare with no plan other than to replace it with something "really terrific." But will Trump back down -- and alienate the 47 percenters who thought he would drain the swamp and shake things up? I'm starting to feel the heat from the torches in Potter County already.