When Barack Obama was President I described our country’s two biggest long range problems as:
- Massive Debt, now 77% of GDP (for the public part on which we pay interest) and predicted by the CBO to keep steadily getting worse.
- Slow economic growth, averaging just 2% since the end of the Great Recession in June 2009. This means fewer new jobs are created and lower raises for existing jobs.
Now, under President Trump, I have modified this list to read:
- Massive Debt, etc.
- Global Warming, for which the evidence is overwhelming.
All three of these issues are large and urgent problems but President Obama was insufficiently concerned about both debt and economic growth while President Trump is insufficiently concerned about both debt and global warming.
Today’s Wall Street Journal, “Paris Climate Discord” has perhaps the best possible argument for withdrawing from the Paris Accord but it is ultimately unpersuasive. Even if full implementation of the Paris standards would have only a tiny effect on global temperatures by 2100, and even if other countries aren’t contributing their fair share, Paris represents a big step in the right direction.
Global warming is real and if the U.S. is the world leader which it needs to be, and often purports to be, then it needs to be part of the Paris Accord. Adjustments to our own domestic energy policies (such as adopting a revenue neutral carbon tax) will enable us to decrease carbon emissions much more efficiently than we are currently doing.
Conclusion. Global warming presents an opportunity for President Trump to show real leadership. I hope he is up to it.