How Trump saves the world

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - Jay Am­brose

— Who knows, but there’s at least a chance that Pres­i­dent- elect Don­ald Trump could help save the world from global warm­ing and, on top of that, from global warm­ing alarmists with other means of do­ing harm. Con­sider the fol­low­ing: He is against Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which has the fol­low­ing faults: 1) It would cost con­sumers a for­tune and save rel­a­tively lit­tle. 2) It would re­duce tem­per­a­tures by an in­signif­i­cant frac­tion by cen­tury’s end. 3) It’s against the law.

In fact, the plan is in court now and the out­look is that it will be ruled un­con­sti­tu­tional. In pro­duc­ing the pol­icy, the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency rather bla­tantly mis­in­ter­preted fed­eral statutes to say it had the right to wipe out state laws all over the land, and it does not. Trump could get rid of it by ex­ec­u­tive or­der.

With­out it, say those want­ing to keep it in place, it would be hard for the United States to do its part in re­duc­ing car­bon diox­ide by amounts set forth in the Paris Agree­ment. There are, how­ever, other an­swers, and the agree­ment signed by 193 na­tions in­cludes mul­ti­ple faults, not the least of them that it could thwart eco­nomic growth and thus kill peo­ple in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

The fact is, fos­sil fu­els re­main cru­cial to in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion of the kind that can save hun­dreds of mil­lions from des­ti­tu­tion. Deny these fu­els to the poor, and they stay poor. The rich­est coun­tries say they will dish out bil­lions of dol­lars to help, but much of that money would sim­ply make cor­rupt, thiev­ing lead­ers richer.

Trump wants to use dreaded coal. But he also wants to find ways to make the coal clean, and that’s pos­si­ble, though not in­ex­pen­sive. It is out­ra­geous that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is tight­en­ing rules re­duc­ing the use of coal. Mi­nus what Trump hopes for, the min­eral is on its way out any­way, and speed­ing up the de­cline sim­ply means liveli­hoods are lost ear­lier than nec­es­sary.

A fore­most cause of coal de­cline has been frack­ing that pro­duces cheaper nat­u­ral gas, shov­ing coal aside as it sends


far less CO2 into the at­mos­phere. Not i n f r equentl y, Obama brags about CO2 re­duc­tions un­der his watch, but it’s free-mar­ket frack­ing far more than gov­ern­men­tal in­ter­ven­tions that’s the champ. Frack­ing could have achieved more if the ad­min­is­tra­tion had al­lowed more drilling on fed­eral lands, some­thing Trump pledges to do. That move would also in­crease oil pro­duc­tion, mak­ing us in­creas­ingly less de­pen­dent on Mid­dle East oil

rump plans to rely on all en­ergy sources to pick up the econ­omy, and that in­cludes wind power and so­lar, although he con­sid­ers so­lar pan­els a fraud. He does want to end sub­si­dies to re­new­able fu­els, and he is ab­so­lutely right. Let the free mar­ket have at it in­stead, sav­ing public money and more likely lead­ing to break­throughs. Tip of the day: Crony cap­i­tal­ism does not work.

Where Trump es­pe­cially shines is in his sup­port for nu­clear power. Waste is far less an is­sue than it used to be. Nu­clear power is pricey but could be con­sid­er­ably less so through reg­u­la­tory and other re­forms. Though new plants would not pop up im­me­di­ately, nu­clear power would lessen green­house gases more ex­ten­sively than any other ap­proach and keep the econ­omy thriv­ing.

A holdup, of course, has been fear of some ter­ri­ble ac­ci­dent, but un­der­stand that plants are man­i­festly safe these days, and, as one fact you may have missed, ra­di­a­tion killed no one in Ja­pan af­ter a tsunami hit nu­clear plants in Fukushima.

Trump re­cently sur­prised some peo­ple when he said he thought hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties may con­trib­ute to warm­ing, but he had said it be­fore. And even sci­en­tific skep­tics be­lieve in warm­ing and hu­man causes as a fac­tor. The dis­pute is about sure-enough catas­tro­phe ad­dressed through du­bi­ous though costly means. There is no sci­en­tific con­sen­sus on this alarmist vi­sion, and Trump’s ideas could be more ef­fec­tive than Obama’s.

Jay Am­brose is an columnist for Tri­bune News Ser­vice. Read­ers may email him at speak­to­

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