President Donald Trump’s bold decision to cease implementation of the Paris Climate Accord has thrown the mainstream media into what Socrates would label religious enthusiasm.
End of times enthusiasm has been the ancient spiritual response since humans lived in caves and witnessed their first eclipse. In fact, a group of modern mystical scientists has proposed to block the sun to save the environment, which the small-minded have noted would have the unfortunate result of destroying the earth in the process.
Facts seem to have little role in these flights of piety, especially it seems from media fact checkers. The number one such expert is Glenn Kessler at The Washington Post, who, with assistant Michelle Ye Hee Lee, was given front page billing for the biasedly-headlined story "Explanation for Paris exit is based on spurious claims."
But the text of the story does not quite make that claim. The article, as opposed to the editors leading storyline, merely presents five statements made by the president in his announcement and argues against them, mostly without coming to very firm conclusions opposing them. The casual reader, naturally, would look at the headline, scan the statements and assume the text confirms the headline, which even on its own merits it does not.
The first disputed presidential claim is that the United States will not be allowed to build coal plants and China and India will. The authors’ response was that the Accord is non-binding, stating there is nothing in the agreement that "stops" the U.S. from building plants or "permits" the other nations from doing so. This is technically true but irrelevant.
Article 4, paragraph 11 of the Accord states: "a party may at any time adjust its existing nationally-determined contribution with a view to enhancing its level of ambition." Note that a nation can only make changes to "enhance" its ambition to control emissions, not decrease them. Since President Barack Obama already committed the U.S. to reduce emissions by between 26 and 28 percent by 2025 and specially mentioned coal, President Trump was correct — and, of course, nothing is required to "permit" any other nation from building such plants.
The issue of binding is not really confronted until the last argument when the authors question the president’s assertion that "we have massive liabilities if we stay in" the agreement. The opening diversion was that Obama’s Clean Power Plan had been put on hold until litigation on it has been settled. But what happens then? The concluding argument was that State Department legal bureaucrats did not believe the Paris Accord could be "cited in court challenges." Want to bet on that? Green lawyers are already on television threatening just that.
If the Clean Power Plan survives judicial review, Section 115 is titled "international air pollution" and could easily be used before a friendly judge to enforce the language against the U.S. taking actions that "endanger" foreign nations. And notice it is judges who are making the decision which means President Trump is correct that there is a danger of "legal liability." China controls its courts as do most Accord signatories so they have nothing to be concerned about.
The fact-checkers remaining arguments are less central to the issue and are even weaker. Fact-check number two concerned the president’s claim that 2.7 million jobs could be lost by 2025 if the agreement continued. The authors simply dismiss the study cited because it was funded by "foes of the Paris accord." So data can be ignored from anyone opposed, which come to think of it is how climate "consensus" is generally enforced in the mainstream media.
Question number three chided the president for claiming that "even if the Paris agreement were implemented in full with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree" Celsius reduction in warming by 2100. The response here was to cite one of the authors of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology study referenced by President Trump — not to dispute the data but to have him say two-tenths of one degree is better than nothing, which once again makes the president correct.
The final dispute was over whether the statement that "most of them [other countries] haven’t even paid anything" into the United Nations Green Climate Fund. Their rejoinder was reporting, "in fact, 43 governments have pledged money to the fund, including nine developing countries," while the U.S. only "contributed" $1 billion of the $3 billion it pledged. The president had said "most" have not "contributed" and the so-called fact-checkers responded not about contributions but about "pledges."
Any serious review of media claims to presidential "spuriousness" must be disbelief at the authors’ and editors’ simpleminded, arrogant and devious reporting. Unfortunately, in the land of faith-based environmentalism, facts simply must fit into the prevailing orthodoxy.
Donald Devine is senior scholar at the Fund for American Studies, the author of "America’s Way Back: Reclaiming Freedom, Tradition and Constitution," and was Ronald Reagan’s director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management during his first term. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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