Why I Am Not Freaking Out About the Paris Climate Agreement

Please note that this article is titled “Why I Am Not Freaking Out…” and not “Why You Should Not Freak Out…” What you do is your own business.

I don’t go on Facebook much anymore. But after Trump said he would pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement, I took a look-see and saw exactly what I expected — a lot of my “friends” posting angry rants about how terrible this was, how Trump doesn’t care for his children and the planet, how we are all fucked now, etc., etc.

I found myself not feeling any of these emotions. I’m not particularly happy about the news, nor does it fill me with despair.

I am unimpressed by people who say that Global Climate Change is a hoax. It clearly is real and it clearly is a problem. Nor am I impressed by those who argue that human activity plays no role in the process. It clearly does. Those arguments are obviously stupid and uniformed. They are not worth wasting time on.

On the other hand, I find myself also unimpressed by the way the other side demonizes anyone who questions policies like the Paris Climate Agreement, who ask whether such agreements really do what they purport to do, who ask whether some of those who sign off on them may have motives other than saving the planet, and so forth. I’m unimpressed by those who label them all as “Climate Change Deniers.” Many of these so-called “Deniers” do not deny the science of Climate Change, only the wisdom of the various methods proposed to deal with it. I’m also not too impressed with people who say things about how science proves this or that when they clearly know even less than I do about science. These arguments are also uninformed and silly, and, as such, not worth examining.

I find it impossible to trust either the President (I’ve never trusted any of them, actually) or the Mainstream Media (who I used to trust until I became part of the media and realized how phony it all was).

When I see stuff like this, I ask myself; How do I know Donald Trump is wrong and Bill Nye the Science Guy is right? Or vice-versa.

The answer is I do not.

So then I ask myself; How can I find out?

The answer to this is easy to state but difficult to follow through on. In order to determine who is correct I would need to study the subject extensively. I would need to read the entire Paris Climate Agreement as well as a wide range of literature about the human impact on climate change, taking in reasonable arguments on both sides. Then I could determine whether I think the Paris Agreement is a good thing or a bad thing.

But after that, what could I do? Well, I suppose I could post my findings here. Given that a few thousand people read this blog, that might have a small impact. But, really, it wouldn’t amount to very much. I don’t think people come to this blog to learn about Climate Change or politics.

Most folks, when faced with something like this, defer to experts who they trust. Neil De Grasse Tyson thought pulling out of the Paris Agreement was a bad idea. I think Neil knows his science and he doesn’t seem to have any ulterior motives. But does he know politics?

It appears to me that people who know their science generally favor the Paris Climate Agreement. Yet it also appears to me that people who know politics are far more likely to be skeptical. Many of them seem to feel that the agreement doesn’t really do a whole lot to make the worst offenders in terms of carbon emissions do much about them.

For example, much has been made about the fact that only Syria and Nicaragua did not join the agreement. I looked that up on Wikipedia (also not 100% trustworthy) and found that, “Nicaraguan envoy Paul Oquist criticized the Paris Agreement for not punishing countries who didn’t follow it. He stated Nicaragua will continue countering climate change on its own, with plans being that the country will be ‘90 percent renewable’ by 2020.” Syria failed to join because they’ve got more immediate shit to deal with right now — obviously.

Trump’s stated reasons for pulling the US out are that it would cost US jobs and that even if everyone follows the agreement — which is not a sure thing since it’s non-binding — it wouldn’t really change much. I’ve seen arguments against that line of thinking as well as arguments for it. The arguments against Trump’s reasoning seem somewhat more compelling to me, but some of the arguments supporting Trump’s position are not unreasonable.

The problem for me is that many of those arguing against Trump seem to be motivated mostly by the fact that arguing against Trump — about absolutely anything — sells better to their audience. And, of course, those arguing for Trump often appear to have ties to the fossil fuel industry and, therefore, also have suspicious motivations. And I further assume Trump’s own investments in fossil fuel companies played a part in his decision.

So where does all of that leave little ol’ me sitting here in the LA heat typing out my books and blog posts and reading my little audiobooks?

For one thing, I realize that me freaking the fuck out about this wouldn’t have much impact on Global Climate Change. Yet it could have a very large impact on Brad Mental Climate Change. In other words, given that I have very little real understanding of what’s at stake — I am just OK at science and am clueless about politics — any opinion I might express on the subject would not be of much value. So getting upset about it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.

We tend to get upset about things we hear in the news when we believe we know what’s best for the world and we see things that go against what we believe ought to happen. Yet when you are skeptical of your own beliefs, you also become skeptical of your own upset over things that challenge those beliefs.

In the past, I expended a whole lot of energy on getting upset at things I heard on the news. I fact, I’d venture to say that I was screaming about how Ronald Reagan was ignoring environmental problems before a lot of the folks who read my stuff were even born. Anyone remember his Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, who seemed to believe it didn’t matter what we did to the planet because Jesus was coming back in a couple years anyhow? I busted a few blood vessels over that guy.

These days I’m not complacent about such things. Yet I feel like I may be able to contribute more by writing articles about why I’m not freaking out than by, say, posting nasty comments about Trump on social media.

I don’t know if anyone listens to me. I suspect I’m not very significant. But I think it would be better if fewer people simply accepted what their uninformed friends, or biased media and self-serving politicians said, and actually looked deeply into the complexity of things like Global Climate Change and the Paris Agreement. Then, rather than a lot of uninformed hot-heads, we might see more well-informed, cooler headed people making rational arguments and coming to better conclusions.

Sadly, I am skeptical that this will happen any time soon.

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