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Trumping Idiocy

Written By: - Date published: 4:59 pm, March 29th, 2017 - 28 comments
Categories: capitalism, climate change, Donald Trump, economy, Economy, Environment, International, political alternatives, Revolution, science, us politics - Tags: , , ,

Measures that governments have promised to put in place by way of the Paris Agreement do not address our need to avoid 2° C of global warming. If all emissions pledges are implemented in full, then global warming will be ‘limited’ to something like 3.5 or 4 °C. And nothing’s up for review with regards those commitments or pledges until 2023. By then, we’ll have blown through ~300 billion tonnes of the ~800 billion tonnes of CO2 we might possibly have been able to emit between 2011 and 2100 for any chance of having future warming of only 2°C.

Put that another way.  At 35 billion tonnes per year (approximate current emissions) our entire budget for the century (for any chance of 2 °C) will be gone by about 2030 or 2035.

So in a sane world, we’d be rejoicing at the scrapping of the woeful framework put in place by Barack Obama in the US and looking forward to realistic actions being pursued from here on in. But the world of power and privilege isn’t sane. So we now have the prospect of the US tumbling onwards and towards future temperature rises in excess of 4 °C.

Here’s the thing though. It’s kind of academic from a human survival, or well being perspective, whether future temperatures increases will be in the 3.5 – 4 °C range or somewhere above 4 °C. Barack Obama and all the other world leaders were not doing anything that would ‘save the world’ – they’d locked us into an impossible future with their bullshit.

The truth of the matter is that we might just scrape by with worthwhile lives at a temperature increase of 2 °C. But only with a huge amount of luck on our side. (ie, – very low climate and ecological sensitivities) And that luck most definitely will not be extending to the millions upon millions of people in equatorial regions who will die in a world that’s 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.

To get even a look-in at 2 °C, we need cuts somewhere in the order of 15% this year followed by another 15% next year and a further 15% the following year, followed by 15% in the next year and again in the year after that and then in every subsequent year until we have absolute zero carbon emissions (not net zero) from all sources of energy by around 2040. Just four years ago, the required cuts were about 10%. Another five years of inaction will require cuts in excess of 15%.

So where are we at?

A Presidential clown is moving to dismantle a framework that was slated to deliver nothing but suffering and death. And in its place, he’s looking to usher in a future of suffering and death.

But what about you?

Are you kidding yourself that Donald Trump’s robbing the world of salvation and then hoping a framework that was never anythng but the ribs of a hand-basket destined for hell, gets preserved in some way? Or are you ready, finally, to demand that politicians and leaders stop trying to preserve their positions of influence and power at the expense of all our futures?

Can you give up on the notion that our current socio-economic paradigm can somehow conjure up a pricing mechanism ,or magical technological fix, that will limit warming to 2 °C? That seems to be a problem for many of us – giving up on that whimsy. You’ll have your own personal reasons for ‘hanging on in there’ and persisting with the life you’ve mapped out for yourself. No doubt those reasons are convincing. But can you walk away regardless?

Because if you don’t – like, I don’t know, perhaps you just don’t want to, or can’t imagine how to – then maybe you’d care to imagine how well that goes down in the future when the question’s asked –

“Mummy? Daddy? When you said I’d go far, did you really mean that to be as far the end of the world ?” And the answer comes back –

“Yeah sorry, I had a whimsical notion things would be okay if we just kept doing things according to the ways we did things.”



Further reading (and viewing) for those interested.

The Cambridge Climate Lecture Series 2017  (I’d particularly recommend lecture no. 3 and the Live Panel)

A cat in hell’s chance’ – why we’re losing the battle to keep global warming below 2C (The Guardian)

Why Carbon Prices Can’t Deliver the 2 °C Target  (Short blog post)

Link to the paper underpinning the arguments given above Aviation in a Low Carbon UK  (pdf pp 89 – 109)

Carbon and inequality: from Kyoto to Paris Trends in the global inequality of carbon emissions (1998-2013) & prospects for an equitable adaptation fund (pdf) Chancel and Piketty – exploring ways to raise taxes in equitable and effective ways and also working out who emits what from the perspective of the end consumer (10% of people = 50% of emissions).

Extreme Carbon Inequality (pdf) Oxfam paper on the distribution of carbon emissions at the individual or end user level done independently from the Chancel/Piketty study but reaching the same conclusions. (10% of people = 50% of emissions)

New Scientist on Paris (Short piece)

Random Guardian piece on Paris. (Containing a number of direct quotes from scientists in the field)

A brief explanation of carbon budgets accompanied by some pretty straight forward graphics.

28 comments on “Trumping Idiocy”

  1. Gavin 1

    But Trump said “Clean Coal”. He stressed that. Put the two words together and maybe some people will believe it.

    • Bill 1.1

      Trump lied? Led people up the proverbial garden path? So did Obama. So did every single other government leader or negotiator at Paris (and Copenhagen and Cancun and wherever else they met this past quarter of a century).

      The only thing that might change now is that people will finally wake up and essentially get the fuck up from their docile slumbers and insist a world of demands is met.

      We’ve got about 20 years in which time to knock this shit on its head. That’s not long. And it definitely isn’t long enough to be indulging in nonsense and bullshit, the likes of which all politicians are wont to peddle.

  2. Heather Grimwood 2

    I grieve at this ignorant regressive step by Trump….really grieve.
    One can only hope for immediate massive action from US citizens.

    • Bill 2.1

      That’s the thing Heather – yes, it’s regressive. But what he’s pulling back from was in no way, shape or form going to deliver a future of 2 degrees C.

      Maybe the grieving would be better focused on the past quarter century of bullshit and bluster from politicians.

      And action. Yes. That’s absolutely necessary (always was) but there is a far better chance of that happening because of Trump than there ever was under other Presidents in the US.

  3. srylands 3

    Don’t worry about Trump. He might only be there for two years. Energy investments stretch over decades. The people who make those investments will look right through Trump. The market will deliver the right results. Or certainly much better results than politicians interfering in markets.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 3.1

      Your faith in the ability of “the market” to deliver the right results in response to global climate change is touching.

      Sometimes it takes political cooperation to encourage “the market” to act in everyone’s best interests.

      NZ has certainly benefited from this stick. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal_Protocol

      ‘The chair of the board of DuPont was quoted as saying that ozone depletion theory is “a science fiction tale…a load of rubbish…utter nonsense”.’ Is this an example of how the market produces better results than political ‘interference’, or an example of something else?

    • aerobubble 3.2

      Its like this. Coal wont be good PR, a company exporting US goods using coal to make them will be an opportunity for climate acceptors to target, both US and foriegn.

      Trumps ability to read off FOX news lies is great, its warning to everyone, Trump spots nother lie, and spend the next week of his Presidency backtracking from it. How great is that, its ridicule on ridicule, epic.

  4. Andrea 4

    The moment fools decided to have ‘carbon credit trading’, as if this was some sort of game for the gamblers in the stock exchanges, it was all a dead duck.

    This ‘mission’ is for EVERYONE – not just the elite few to make money from. And no one included us.

    Alternative fuels? Make it only for the well-shod who can afford the power bills and the fancy vehicles. There’s no company here like Tata, trying to make cheap and low-emissions vehicles for the majority. Why not, eh? Why not?

    Decently frugal appliances – fridges and stoves and washing machines. Oh, wow! It has three stars! Put them out of business. Now. Don’t reward that kind of 1950s power-guzzler engineering.

    Engineers and inventors and designers? Well, no. Make the classes too expensive and then send the expertise overseas because we don’t want that sort of stuff here. Crikey! We’re still evolving backwards from the #8 wire and baling twine. Don’t get fancy on us.

    Where are the alternatives to be thrifty and conservative for the people who know Trump will be fired! as soon as he fails some more? Where are the incentives and push to make this whole mission more important than putting people on the moon or winning the right to inflict the rugby world cup on an ill-prepared nation?

    Where’s the greater push to help women control their child numbers affordably and without the interference of a certain category of male, and malignant propaganda, so the world population can stabilise and begin to drop off?

    It would also help if we quietened down our propensity to aggression and wars – pollution, ruin, and a population rebound.

    Who might lead us?
    The Greens? ROTFLMAO. Wee sleekit cow’ring timrous beasties without a vision to bless themselves with, let alone share it with the hoi polloi.

    And the rest of the political class? Rest in Peace, or somnolence. Too fond of talks and free trips overseas to talk some more with their own kind instead of listen and collaborate.

    A few will do well out of this. For a while…

    • Bill 4.1

      Thank you Andrea….for the spirit in the comment!

    • weka 4.2

      Who might lead us?
      The Greens? ROTFLMAO. Wee sleekit cow’ring timrous beasties without a vision to bless themselves with, let alone share it with the hoi polloi.

      The Greens talked about Climate Change long before anyone else. They’ve been talking about an alternative to the growth economy model that underpins CC for longer. I’m going to guess that you don’t even know what that is.

      The people that think the Greens are James Shaw in a suit really haven’t been paying attention, and most of the people complaining about the Greens now in a CC context didn’t vote for them back in the day when it mattered. If the Greens had been on 15% ten years ago, they’d be on 25 or 30% now and have some chance of doing what is needed. But they didn’t get those vote and so their option was to become more mainstream.

      As a political strategy this has worked. But the only way they can do the right thing is if they have public support, and they just haven’t had that. Slagging them off for not being what we want is fucked up, because the Greens are what we made them.

      It’s pretty easy to bitch and moan but all I’m seeing here is a ceding of power. Finger pointing instead of stepping up. Don’t like the Greens? Then present us with something better. Because at this stage they’re what we’ve got. I don’t believe government will lead the way on this. But the Greens will follow if people start taking the right actions that sanction a reversal of cc. No-one is coming to save us, it’s up to us. But the Greens with a significant presence is parliament would be a powerful tool we can use.

      It beggars belief that people think shitting on our allies is a useful strategy. But maybe there is no strategy and it’s all about personal political gratification now. Sorry, but we are way past the time when we can afford the luxury of bitch and moan rants as a response to the crisis we are in.

      • Bill 4.2.1

        The Greens talked about Climate Change long before anyone else.

        Some people were talking about global warming in the 1800s. I’m picking that’s a bit before the Greens’ time.

        Look, I know it irks you when anyone says negative stuff about the Green Party, but this post is not about political parties and the Greens constituted only a minor portion of the comment you’re responding to and in the context of dismissing all political parties.

        Meanwhile, all of the following was mentioned or alluded to…

        Carbon trading.
        Alternative sources of energy.
        Efficiency legislation.
        Less consumerism.
        Birth control.
        Pollution levels.
        Political/social priorities.

        • weka

          “Look, I know it irks you when anyone says negative stuff about the Green Party,”

          No it doesn’t, it irks me when people say politically stupid negative things about the Green Party. I’m not defending the Greens for their sake, I’m pointing to failing strategy that affects us all.

          There’s a lot of good stuff in Andrea’s comment, but I’m looking beyond rhetoric and at action and pointing to the fact that sitting on the internet bitching and moaning about what is wrong, no matter how on point, is another aspect of counterproductive along with the middle classes wanting to hold into their CC lifestyles.

          • Bill

            I find the anger in comments like Andrea’s invigorating and positive. That energy’s so much more inspiring to me than the dull and depressing fare dished up by the dopey hopey crowd. At least it signposts an existent willingness for the necessary ‘no holds barred’ radical change in people (some people).

            (I meant it when I said ‘thank you’)

            • weka

              Yeah, I got that, and that’s great. Great too if Andrea gets something out of it that keeps her moving. But its not enough, and the mass of people who we desperately need to change aren’t going to engage with that in enough numbers soon enough. That’s a problem (not you feeling inspired but that we need something else as well).

        • jcuknz

          When the co-leader of the greens tells Maori to have lots of babies to preserve their % in the Nz population I stopped even considering greens as a sensible outfit, despite being a greenie from way back. As suggested above the world needs to stop increasing its population of humans if its human population is going to survive.
          As for those advocating electric cars … work out the holistic energy cost of production and you will see you are on a fool’s errand … sorry but that is the truth for those with eyes to see and not wearing blinkers

  5. Ad 5

    Al Gore’s sequel to An Inconvenient Truth, Truth to Power, is along the same lines:

    • Bill 5.1

      Al Gore’s an incrementalist – and incrementalism’s part and parcel of the problem.

      Our current socio-economic frameworks cannot and will not deliver a solution to global warming and the climate change that accompanies it. Quite the contrary, it prevents us from acting intelligently by insisting that any actions we may think of taking satisfy currently in vogue economic criteria first.

      • Mickomarvel 5.1.1

        ” Quite the contrary, it prevents us from acting intelligently by insisting that any actions we may think of taking satisfy currently in vogue economic criteria first.”

        Ain’t that the truth. Capitalism, which can ONLY survive through never ending growth, is killing the world. I really fear for my mokopuna.

  6. weka 6

    I get and agree with the general gist, but I’m not sure equating Obama with Tr*mp in this way helps. There are critical differences that we should be paying attention to. The easiest one I can point to is that activism is easier under liberal govts than fascist ones. Sure, we might get lucky and Tr*mpville might push the US into a mass uprising, but I suspect it’s more likely that there will be a long drawn out clusterfuck of that society whichever way it goes. I’m already hearing of activism fatigue from people in the US. And people’s activism is going into fighting the various Tr*mpville fronts, not CC.

    It’s not all bad, I think there is definitely an increase in climate activism, but with Tr*mp in power the govt will be literally incapable of changing, so I’m not sure how that will work out. Maybe in four years there will be a swing away, and so much then depends on the Democrats. etc etc.

    A better bet IMO is that the rest of the world uses this as a wake up call, esp those of us who still have the liberal privilege of choosing our battlegrounds.

    Can you give up on the notion that our current socio-economic paradigm can somehow conjure up a pricing mechanism ,or magical technological fix, that will limit warming to 2 °C? That seems to be a problem for many of us – giving up on that whimsy. You’ll have your own personal reasons for ‘hanging on in there’ and persisting with the life you’ve mapped out for yourself. No doubt those reasons are convincing. But can you walk away regardless?

    This is good. I think the big challenge here is that we have so many different ideas about what potential futures we have and we’re still struggling to work together as a result. And as always, IMO people need an alternate future to move into, not just one to walk away from (not saying it’s your job to provide that pathway, but someone will have to).

    • Bill 6.1

      Obama had not put anything in place that was ever going to result in 2 degrees of warming. Unfortunately, there was (or seemed to be) a desire to believe. That’s gone. (Thank fuck)

      And that was the only comparison I made between Obama’s Admin and Trump’s Admin. They both represent abject failure on the CC front. (As do all other national governments in the world today)

      In your comment you mention possibilities in four years from now. Four years from now is (another) four years too late. Four years ago we needed to reduce emissions by about 10% every year. Now it’s about 15%. In four years from now? I don’t know, but definitely more than 15%.

      Meanwhile, all climate models are predicated on nothing more than (from memory) a 5% reduction. The reason it’s 5% is because classical economists (the guys in power now) recognise that their economic models fall over if reduction rates are any higher than that.

      Democrats or Republicans? Labour or National? Possibly it’s all utterly irrelevant if we consider that very thing they gain power to manage (the economy) has to be ‘let go’ if we’re going to be in any way serious about confronting CC.

      On that basis, I don’t have any allies within the political class (the somnolents as Andrea might term them) They are all in the way. They have all peddled bullshit and nonsense for over a quarter of a century assuring us that things would be okay. And they have all done nothing at all. (Emissions for this year will be about 60% above what they were a quarter of a century ago)

      It’s down to us. And we either choose to risk having that little bit of dialogue at the end of the post or we withdraw our economic participation and get on with it. We don’t have any time to work towards some envisioned change or draw up plans or blueprints.

      Time constraints are such that it’s on the hoof or it’s not at all.

      • weka 6.1.1

        Sorry, my eyes glaze over at the maths, as you know 😉

        “On that basis, I don’t have any allies within the political class (the somnolents as Andrea might term them) They are all in the way.”

        Really? You wouldn’t ally with Metiria Turei? Are you thinking the only way is the destruction of the state entirely?

        (as an aside, I don’t see the political class as being only the politicians, it’s us too, so your position on that is problematic in the context of my previous comment. No-one is coming to save us, it’s up to us. Politicians aren’t a different race of people, they’re part of ‘us’).

        “It’s down to us. And we either choose to risk having that little bit of dialogue at the end of the post or we withdraw our economic participation and get on with it. We don’t have any time to work towards some envisioned change or draw up plans or blueprints.

        Time constraints are such that it’s on the hoof or it’s not at all.”

        Sure, I just don’t see you getting a lot of support for that at this point. You and I withdrawing our economic support isn’t going to change much, although it is worthy for other reasons. The on the hoof approach will work better when the middle classes have their backs against the wall, but we’re not close to that yet and as we know it will be an entirely different kind of crisis by then.

        I’ll just keep saying it, if we don’t find ways to engage with the people who want to change, we will still be sitting here on ts talking about it in five years time. So where are the points of engagement?

        • Bill

          Yeah Weka, this is a blog. Some of the people who come here come to engage and maybe both challenge with their views and have their views challenged. And that’s it.

          As a blog, it’s got nothing to do with engaging the middle classes or the rest of the working class or anything of that sort – it’s a self selecting source for debate or argument or learning.

          Sure, occasionally a post will ‘hit a nerve’ and take off on some ‘populated’ trajectory around tha web. But those are the exceptions.

          Also, given NZ is fairly shallow media wise, specifically targeted posts can have an influence on media angles.

          Metiria Turei. If I was talking to MT about Greens CC policies I’d be utterly critical (have been). As for allying with people, that means working in the real world (not via a blog). And as far as CC goes, I’d work with the disenfranchised ‘guy down the road’ who thinks Trump is the best thing since sliced bread alongside any other people who approached CC seriously and wanted to act on it.

          It’s not about ‘getting support’ via a blog (I post arguments, opinions and info is all). Will the opinions or outlooks of a wee few people maybe change a tad because of something I’ve written or argued? Possibly. (Mine sometimes do in response to something I read here) But the same would happen if there was some discussion or debate ‘down the pub’ and the level of impact isn’t too dissimilar.

          The value for me is in info – not opinions.

          What else did you say? Your eyes glaze over at maths? If you’re not willing or capable to work through some basic arithmetic, then maybe stay away from opinion or argument that is grounded in numbers…because 9 times out of 10 (rather often) you’re going to miss or diminish the point.

          And to reiterate. No – politicians are not my allies and no political party gets my endorsement when it comes to CC. And any party that has claimed, or does claim, to be some sort of a torch bearer on that front better stack up – because those are the ones who will deservedly be on the receiving end of most of my ire if they’re selling, or attempting to sell false hope or whatever. (Cue – The Greens and TOPs).

          If you want to truly influence people and engage them in action, then print leaflets and organise meetings and real world activity. There’s no other way that I know of.

  7. adam 7

    Yeah nah, Call me over 40 and pessimistic.

    All this should have been sorted 20 years ago.

    Now, Well if you can’t face facts, here is a little tv drama – to put it to you in language and situation that may help you understand.

    • Bill 7.1

      You over 40 pessimist!

      Okay, now that’s out of the way.

      A general and final (ie – not going back, there is no ‘settlement’ being sought) rent and industrial strike tomorrow ends it….because even pessimists dream 😉

  8. Sabine 8

    Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, held a hearing today titled “Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method” examining “the scientific method and process as it relates to climate change.”

    who is Texas Republican Lamar Smith you might ask?



    “Smith went after climate scientists right in the statement he used to open the hearing, saying, “Far too often, alarmist theories on climate science originate with scientists who operate outside the principles of the scientific method.” He went on to say that “all too often, scientists ignore the basic tenets of science.” Smith singled out climate projections such as those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), saying that any predictions made to the end of this century are simply not credible.

    “Alarmist predictions amount to nothing more than wild guesses,” he said.”

  9. Poission 9

    Can you give up on the notion that our current socio-economic paradigm can somehow conjure up a pricing mechanism ,or magical technological fix, that will limit warming to 2 °C?

    Repose the problem.

    Why are technological fixes,and pricing mechanisms so constrained?

    In a word financialization (the usual suspects prevail)

    As John Maynard Keynes recognized, capitalist economies always contain the capacity for both “enterprise” and “speculation,” and if left unchecked, the latter will come to dominate over the former. Economists at the Bank for International Settlements have found that financialization harms innovative firms, which operate by creating intangible future assets that are difficult to collateralize (5). This shift has also changed corporate governance, bringing an increase of “financial controllers in the management of corporations” and of “the stock market as a market for corporate control in determining corporate strategies” (6). As a result, firms have become less oriented toward investing to improve their long-term performance and more oriented toward enriching their managers and investors in the short run (3). Reinforced by managerial incentives, increasing amounts of profits are spent on dividends and stock buybacks, leaving less for investment in long-term technological development


  10. aerobubble 10

    Farage did not found anti-EU paradigm. If anything it was media bashing bureaucrats for fun. Farage was not successful, he could not foresee losing he day job, or EU diving into a crisis of s own making, Greece, Polands’ anti rule of law govt, and yes evenlimaye change that warms seas and pushes weather cooling processes over the interia of continuents i.e how did the ice age cause glaciers across the northern hemisphere? It was transported there by weather systems, and a ice free artic ocean.

    Brexit in a hundred years time wll look like foresight. The idea is clear our Press is run by idiots who have practice a form of reductist journalism pandering to the stupid end of the rich set. i.e. Murdoch, etc. Growng a generation of yes men and women, whose sole goal is take a cut of all the welth they can hand over to a dwindling numbe of .1 of .1’s. Yeah. Imagine that Farage, however incopetently is more on the side of history that Mr yes man Key. Keys fail victoria speach missing in action on ghettos carparks, stinky homes, overprice rentals of squalid quadruple bunking, shitty rivers.

    Trump is a joke, but on whom? Congressional Republicians, lobbyists, big ego money that does not get its fooling itself.

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  • $2.7m for Hokianga infrastructure
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  • Funding boost for sustainable food and fibre production
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  • Trans-Tasman cooperation in a COVID-19 world
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