Blogs: Paul Pillar

The Post-Truth President and U.S. Credibility

Climate Change and the Priority of the Irreversible

Paul Pillar

An example of such a feedback loop involves sea ice in the Arctic.  The warmer it gets in the Arctic, the less ice there is.  And the less ice there is, the less sunlight is reflected off the surface, the more heat is absorbed, and the more global warming accelerates further.  The extent of Arctic sea ice right now, which is at an off-the-charts low for this time of year, ought to be ringing alarm bells.  Another feedback loop involves land areas in the Arctic.  Thawing of long-frozen tundra and organic material within it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas that exacerbates the global warming.

Climate change deniers ought to be treated with all the disdain they richly deserve.  Going against the overwhelming scientific consensus on this subject ought to be given as much respect as belief that the Earth is flat.  Those who place short-term financial or political interests ahead of the fate of the planet should be condemned for their indefensibly selfish and short-sighted posture.

Some of Donald Trump’s utterances on the subject are worthy of disdain, as are some of the anti-scientific people who are advising him on the topic.  Trump’s assertion that climate change is a hoax that China has perpetrated for economic advantage is looking ridiculous considering how China has been not only talking the talk in reaching diplomatic agreements but also walking the walk in restructuring its own energy infrastructure.  Beijing’s de-emphasis of coal and development of renewal energy sources have meant that China may have already turned a corner in reducing carbon dioxide emissions as of last year.

But with a president as thin-skinned as Trump, merely condemning him for the ridiculous and the outrageous in what he has said is not the way to steer him onto a wiser policy course.  It is tactically sound, and not just wishful thinking, to try to build upon the more constructive-sounding parts of his inconsistent rhetoric.  He ought to be taken at his word when, as in his interview with the New York Times, he says he has an “open mind” about climate change.

There is potential for getting the new president to use that open mind to adopt some good planet-saving ideas as if they were his own.  The concept of the United States being a leader and not a laggard, and not losing ground to the likes of the Chinese, in the development of renewable energy represents one set of such ideas.  The concept should be all the more attractive to Trump if he becomes educated enough in the subject to understand that the trend to renewables is a matter of economics and not just of environmental activism.

A real estate developer such as Trump also ought to be impressed at least as much as anyone else by the effects that a rising sea level already is having on the market for coastal real estate.  His own Mar-a-Lago is by the water—in Palm Beach in southeastern Florida, where those effects are being felt at least as severely as anywhere else in the United States.

Columnist Frank Bruni probably has it right when he identifies applause and adulation of an audience as the main motivator of Trump.  To steer him in the right direction on climate change, he needs to feel that he is responding to the demands and emotions of an audience.  So go ahead and hold street demonstrations and make lots of noise on this subject; but the signs and the slogans should be pro-planet Earth rather than anti-Trump. 

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Ideology is Supplanting Intelligence

Paul Pillar

An example of such a feedback loop involves sea ice in the Arctic.  The warmer it gets in the Arctic, the less ice there is.  And the less ice there is, the less sunlight is reflected off the surface, the more heat is absorbed, and the more global warming accelerates further.  The extent of Arctic sea ice right now, which is at an off-the-charts low for this time of year, ought to be ringing alarm bells.  Another feedback loop involves land areas in the Arctic.  Thawing of long-frozen tundra and organic material within it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas that exacerbates the global warming.

Climate change deniers ought to be treated with all the disdain they richly deserve.  Going against the overwhelming scientific consensus on this subject ought to be given as much respect as belief that the Earth is flat.  Those who place short-term financial or political interests ahead of the fate of the planet should be condemned for their indefensibly selfish and short-sighted posture.

Some of Donald Trump’s utterances on the subject are worthy of disdain, as are some of the anti-scientific people who are advising him on the topic.  Trump’s assertion that climate change is a hoax that China has perpetrated for economic advantage is looking ridiculous considering how China has been not only talking the talk in reaching diplomatic agreements but also walking the walk in restructuring its own energy infrastructure.  Beijing’s de-emphasis of coal and development of renewal energy sources have meant that China may have already turned a corner in reducing carbon dioxide emissions as of last year.

But with a president as thin-skinned as Trump, merely condemning him for the ridiculous and the outrageous in what he has said is not the way to steer him onto a wiser policy course.  It is tactically sound, and not just wishful thinking, to try to build upon the more constructive-sounding parts of his inconsistent rhetoric.  He ought to be taken at his word when, as in his interview with the New York Times, he says he has an “open mind” about climate change.

There is potential for getting the new president to use that open mind to adopt some good planet-saving ideas as if they were his own.  The concept of the United States being a leader and not a laggard, and not losing ground to the likes of the Chinese, in the development of renewable energy represents one set of such ideas.  The concept should be all the more attractive to Trump if he becomes educated enough in the subject to understand that the trend to renewables is a matter of economics and not just of environmental activism.

A real estate developer such as Trump also ought to be impressed at least as much as anyone else by the effects that a rising sea level already is having on the market for coastal real estate.  His own Mar-a-Lago is by the water—in Palm Beach in southeastern Florida, where those effects are being felt at least as severely as anywhere else in the United States.

Columnist Frank Bruni probably has it right when he identifies applause and adulation of an audience as the main motivator of Trump.  To steer him in the right direction on climate change, he needs to feel that he is responding to the demands and emotions of an audience.  So go ahead and hold street demonstrations and make lots of noise on this subject; but the signs and the slogans should be pro-planet Earth rather than anti-Trump. 

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The Unnecessary and Undemocratic Quadrennial Shuffle

Paul Pillar

An example of such a feedback loop involves sea ice in the Arctic.  The warmer it gets in the Arctic, the less ice there is.  And the less ice there is, the less sunlight is reflected off the surface, the more heat is absorbed, and the more global warming accelerates further.  The extent of Arctic sea ice right now, which is at an off-the-charts low for this time of year, ought to be ringing alarm bells.  Another feedback loop involves land areas in the Arctic.  Thawing of long-frozen tundra and organic material within it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas that exacerbates the global warming.

Climate change deniers ought to be treated with all the disdain they richly deserve.  Going against the overwhelming scientific consensus on this subject ought to be given as much respect as belief that the Earth is flat.  Those who place short-term financial or political interests ahead of the fate of the planet should be condemned for their indefensibly selfish and short-sighted posture.

Some of Donald Trump’s utterances on the subject are worthy of disdain, as are some of the anti-scientific people who are advising him on the topic.  Trump’s assertion that climate change is a hoax that China has perpetrated for economic advantage is looking ridiculous considering how China has been not only talking the talk in reaching diplomatic agreements but also walking the walk in restructuring its own energy infrastructure.  Beijing’s de-emphasis of coal and development of renewal energy sources have meant that China may have already turned a corner in reducing carbon dioxide emissions as of last year.

But with a president as thin-skinned as Trump, merely condemning him for the ridiculous and the outrageous in what he has said is not the way to steer him onto a wiser policy course.  It is tactically sound, and not just wishful thinking, to try to build upon the more constructive-sounding parts of his inconsistent rhetoric.  He ought to be taken at his word when, as in his interview with the New York Times, he says he has an “open mind” about climate change.

There is potential for getting the new president to use that open mind to adopt some good planet-saving ideas as if they were his own.  The concept of the United States being a leader and not a laggard, and not losing ground to the likes of the Chinese, in the development of renewable energy represents one set of such ideas.  The concept should be all the more attractive to Trump if he becomes educated enough in the subject to understand that the trend to renewables is a matter of economics and not just of environmental activism.

A real estate developer such as Trump also ought to be impressed at least as much as anyone else by the effects that a rising sea level already is having on the market for coastal real estate.  His own Mar-a-Lago is by the water—in Palm Beach in southeastern Florida, where those effects are being felt at least as severely as anywhere else in the United States.

Columnist Frank Bruni probably has it right when he identifies applause and adulation of an audience as the main motivator of Trump.  To steer him in the right direction on climate change, he needs to feel that he is responding to the demands and emotions of an audience.  So go ahead and hold street demonstrations and make lots of noise on this subject; but the signs and the slogans should be pro-planet Earth rather than anti-Trump. 

Pages

Building on the Iran Nuclear Agreement

Paul Pillar

An example of such a feedback loop involves sea ice in the Arctic.  The warmer it gets in the Arctic, the less ice there is.  And the less ice there is, the less sunlight is reflected off the surface, the more heat is absorbed, and the more global warming accelerates further.  The extent of Arctic sea ice right now, which is at an off-the-charts low for this time of year, ought to be ringing alarm bells.  Another feedback loop involves land areas in the Arctic.  Thawing of long-frozen tundra and organic material within it releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas that exacerbates the global warming.

Climate change deniers ought to be treated with all the disdain they richly deserve.  Going against the overwhelming scientific consensus on this subject ought to be given as much respect as belief that the Earth is flat.  Those who place short-term financial or political interests ahead of the fate of the planet should be condemned for their indefensibly selfish and short-sighted posture.

Some of Donald Trump’s utterances on the subject are worthy of disdain, as are some of the anti-scientific people who are advising him on the topic.  Trump’s assertion that climate change is a hoax that China has perpetrated for economic advantage is looking ridiculous considering how China has been not only talking the talk in reaching diplomatic agreements but also walking the walk in restructuring its own energy infrastructure.  Beijing’s de-emphasis of coal and development of renewal energy sources have meant that China may have already turned a corner in reducing carbon dioxide emissions as of last year.

But with a president as thin-skinned as Trump, merely condemning him for the ridiculous and the outrageous in what he has said is not the way to steer him onto a wiser policy course.  It is tactically sound, and not just wishful thinking, to try to build upon the more constructive-sounding parts of his inconsistent rhetoric.  He ought to be taken at his word when, as in his interview with the New York Times, he says he has an “open mind” about climate change.

There is potential for getting the new president to use that open mind to adopt some good planet-saving ideas as if they were his own.  The concept of the United States being a leader and not a laggard, and not losing ground to the likes of the Chinese, in the development of renewable energy represents one set of such ideas.  The concept should be all the more attractive to Trump if he becomes educated enough in the subject to understand that the trend to renewables is a matter of economics and not just of environmental activism.

A real estate developer such as Trump also ought to be impressed at least as much as anyone else by the effects that a rising sea level already is having on the market for coastal real estate.  His own Mar-a-Lago is by the water—in Palm Beach in southeastern Florida, where those effects are being felt at least as severely as anywhere else in the United States.

Columnist Frank Bruni probably has it right when he identifies applause and adulation of an audience as the main motivator of Trump.  To steer him in the right direction on climate change, he needs to feel that he is responding to the demands and emotions of an audience.  So go ahead and hold street demonstrations and make lots of noise on this subject; but the signs and the slogans should be pro-planet Earth rather than anti-Trump. 

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