Yesterday, Donald Trump backed out of the Paris Climate Accord because, he said, it was bad for the American economy. Paul Krugman doesn't buy that argument:
About the economics: At this point, I think, we have a pretty good idea of what a low-emissions economy would look like. I’m sure that energy experts will disagree on the details, but the broad outline isn’t hard to describe.Clearly, it would be an economy running on electricity — electric cars, electric heat, with internal combustion engines rare. The bulk of that electricity would, in turn, come from nonpolluting sources: wind, solar and, yes, probably nuclear.Of course, sometimes the wind doesn’t blow or the sun shine when people want power. But there are multiple ways to deal with that issue: a robust grid that can ship electricity to where it’s needed; storage of various forms (batteries, but also maybe things like pumped hydro); dynamic pricing that encourages customers to use less power when it’s scarce and more when it isn’t; and some surge capacity — probably from relatively low-emission natural-gas-fired generators — to cope with whatever mismatch remains.
And would things look a lot different?
People would still drive cars, live in houses that were heated in the winter and cooled in the summer, and watch videos about superheroes and funny cats. There would be a lot of wind turbines and solar panels, but most of us would ignore them the same way we currently ignore the smokestacks of conventional power plants.Wouldn’t energy be more expensive in this alternative economy? Probably, but not by much: Technological progress in solar and wind has drastically reduced their cost, and it looks as if the same thing is starting to happen with energy storage.Meanwhile, there would be compensating benefits. Notably, the adverse health effects of air pollution would be greatly reduced, and it’s quite possible that lower health care costs would all by themselves make up for the costs of energy transition, even ignoring the whole saving-civilization-from-catastrophic-climate-change thing.
So Trump's economic argument doesn't hold. And, if Trump doesn't understand economics -- something that by now is abundantly clear -- what is really behind his argument? Krugman believes the truth should be glaringly apparent:
Pay any attention to modern right-wing discourse — including op-ed articles by top Trump officials — and you find deep hostility to any notion that some problems require collective action beyond shooting people and blowing things up.Beyond this, much of today’s right seems driven above all by animus toward liberals rather than specific issues. If liberals are for it, they’re against it. If liberals hate it, it’s good. Add to this the anti-intellectualism of the G.O.P. base, for whom scientific consensus on an issue is a minus, not a plus, with extra bonus points for undermining anything associated with President Barack Obama.
The man who rode to power on the Birther Conspiracy is still riding that wave. In the 1960's Tony Joe White wrote a song called, "Polk Salad Annie" -- about a southern lady he characterized as "a wretched, spiteful, straight razor totin' woman."
Behold Polk Salad Donald.
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