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Trump carbon and the Paris agreement

Filed under: — david @ 17 November 2016

The recent US election has prompted cries that the decision on Earth’s climate has now been irrevocably made, that the US has unilaterally decided to scrap the peak warming target from the Paris agreement of 1.5 oC. What do the numbers say? Is Earth’s climate now irrevocably fracked?

The short answer is that, strictly speaking, the future of global climate would have been fracked even had the election gone the other way, unless stronger action to cut CO2 emissions is taken, very soon.

U.S. Emissions under 2020 and 2025 targets, from Columbia University Earth Institute, 2015

Here are some numbers. Carbon emissions from the United States have been dropping since the year 2000, more than on-track to meet a target for the year 2020. Perhaps with continued effort and improving technology, emissions might have dropped to below the 2020 target by 2020, let’s say to 5 gigatons of CO2 per year (5000 megatons in the plot). In actuality, now, let’s say that removing restrictions on energy inefficiency and air pollution could potentially lead to US emissions by 2020 of about 7 gigatons of CO2. This assumes that future growth in emissions followed the faster growth rates from the 1990’s.

Maybe neither of these things will happen exactly, but these scenarios give us a high-end estimate for the difference between the two, which comes to about 4 gigatons of CO2 over four years. There will also probably be extra emissions beyond 2020 due to the lost opportunity to decarbonize and streamline the energy system between now and then. Call it 4-6 gigatons of Trump CO2.

This large quantity of gas can be put into the context of what it will take to avoid the peak warming threshold agreed to in Paris. In order to avoid exceeding a very disruptive warming of 1.5 oC with 66% probability, humanity can release approximately 220 gigatons of CO2 after January, 2017 (IPCC Climate Change 2014 Synthesis report, Table 2.2, corrected for emissions since 2011). The 4-6 Gtons of Trump CO2 will not by itself put the world over this threshold. But global CO2 emission rates are now about 36 gigatons of CO2 per year, giving a time horizon of only about six years of business-as-usual (!) before we cross the line, leaving basically no time for screwing around. To reach the catastrophic 2 oC, about 1000 gigatons of CO2 remain (about 20 years of business as usual). Note that these estimates were done before global temperatures spiked since 2014 — we are currently at 1.2 oC! So these temperature boundaries may be closer than was recently thought.

An optimistic hope is that humanity may soon feel the need to clean up the atmosphere by direct CO2 removal. The American Physical Society estimates a cost for this at about $600 per ton of CO2. Based on this the cost of carbon emitted by the US in the next four years would come in at $8-10 trillion, which amounts to about 14% of US GDP over that time. Even under the scenario that lost in the election, $6 trillion of clean-up costs would have been incurred (8% of GDP).

If you are in a new-found panic about the future of Earth’s climate, know that what you’re feeling now would still have been almost as appropriate had the election gone the other way. The fight to defend Earth’s climate would still be just beginning.

194 Responses to “Trump carbon and the Paris agreement”

  1. 51
  2. 52
    John S Sadowsky says:

    Did anybody figure out what “DF” stands for? I had a thought …

  3. 53

    BB 49: For a Science blog there is a considerable amount of over reaction exhibited by commentators. If you are indeed as panicked, depressed and despairing as some here suggest they are (William # 9, JSS # 15, Nick #8) then I can’t help but think that those feeling that way need to seek some form of counselling or medical intervention.

    BPL: If you can keep your head when all about you are panicking…
    …maybe you just don’t understand the situation.

  4. 54
    Digby Scorgie says:

    Brian Blagden @49

    Let’s put it this way: Through no fault of your own you’re confined to a wheelchair in a coastal sanitorium. You see a huge tsunami approaching. You’d like to get out of the way but nobody seems interested in helping you. In fact, nobody seems to be paying any attention to the approaching tsunami at all. Your attempts to alert them fall on deaf ears.

    Would you not feel panicked, depressed and despairing?

  5. 55
    Victor says:

    Trump may well gut US efforts to support CO2 reduction per se, but he MIGHT be persuaded to promote nuclear power big time, which could ultimately have the same effect. I’m skeptical regarding the need for the former and deeply concerned about the long-term safety of the latter. But if you simply MUST have the former, and prefer not to think about the potential dangers of the latter, then a Trump administration might just be your best bet after all.

  6. 56

    Victor, #55–

    …MIGHT be persuaded to promote nuclear power big time, which could ultimately have the same effect.

    Except that “ultimately” isn’t much help. We need to mitigate, and we need to do it now. As Dr. Archer’s post–you did read it, right?–points out, we have just 6 years for a 66% shot at the 1.5 C goal, and 20 for the 2 C goal–and those are not worst-case figures.

    If we posit that we could start building 600 new reactors tomorrow–there are currently on the order of 60 being built–they wouldn’t even be finished in time to make a dent in goal #1, and would have at most 14 years to contribute to the second.

    It’s worth mentioning that the Fort Vogtle expansion milestones are as follow:

    Early Site Permit: 2006
    Combined Construction and Operating License: 2008
    Groundbreaking: 2009
    Nuclear Construction: 2013
    Original Completion date, Unit 3: 2016
    Current Completion date, Unit 3: 2019

    If I didn’t blow the calculation, the world produces on average about 2.7 tW of electrical power each hour. So ignoring capacity factor and demand growth over the next 6-10 years, those 600 ‘unicorn’ reactors would get us something like 25% of actual global production.

    Nuclear power will have a role in the future power mix, and, I suspect, for a long time henceforth. But it’s no silver bullet for our mitigation problem, Trump or no Trump.

  7. 57
    Supernaut says:

    Completely agree with people (Nick above) who advocate the use of nuclear energy to de-carbonize the atmosphere as quickly as possible; we need all available tools.

  8. 58
    Victor says:

    #56 Kevin: “Except that “ultimately” isn’t much help. We need to mitigate, and we need to do it now.”

    What makes you think substituting renewables for ff emissions could take less time? “Now” isn’t really an option, is it?

  9. 59
    roger murphy says:

    BB 49, to get more realistic understand that you are new to the sanitorium nobody is panicking because what you are witnessing is a coastal storm, you are too new to realize that these storms have happened throughout history and while the disruption does cause incidental damage the storm subsides and the sun shines again. Leaving behind the analogy yes the planet has warmed, thats way better than cooled (who knew?) so just relax and be thankful that you live in one of the best times to be alive..climatologically speaking, gnite.

  10. 60
    pete best says:

    The World appears to have for the third year running stabalised its C02 emissions at around 36 billion tonnes so it just shows how tricky it is actually coming off the curve and reducing global emissions actually are considering we have had numerous COP meetings now and for all the good will and talk we are not actually coming off the curve at all making reaching 1.5C very likely and 2C likely.

    I personally reckon that regardless of how much we in the west expect our governments to reduce our emissions for us or provide the means to do so in a cost effective manner it still remains out of reach for most of us. Hybrids and electric cars are selling ok but not amazingly so relative to their ICH counterparts for example.

    Long way to go and not guarantee of anything resembling mitigating the threat of AGW just yet.

  11. 61
    Erik Lindeberg says:

    John S Sadowsky is concerned that capturing and storing CO2 will require energy due to the second law of thermodynamics, and he claims that lack of energy that will prevent this effective action against climate warming. There is no lack of energy. There is actually so much energy present in the form of fossil fuels that there is no way we can even utilize a fraction of all known reserves of coal, oil, and gas without totally jeopardizing the climate. If we use some of the fossil energy (typically 10-15%) to make energy with small CO2 footprint, we can effectively reduce CO2 emissions for a cost that will approximately only double the cost of energy. There is no other large scale option that can solve the whole problem

  12. 62
    Hank Roberts says:

    Would someone knowledgeable about coal smoke and aerosols comment on what’s visible from DSCOVR over India, usually blowing toward the east, and how effective the Himalaya range is at blocking that air mass? What could change?

    Also, if you folks have any leverage with the DSCOVR office — it would be a real gift if they’d arrange for “every 24 hour” image series looking (more or less, as close as available) at the same part of Earth every day. It’s possible to assemble such ‘by hand’ but tedious.

    I realize there was no attempt by several administrations to make this view of the planet available or to work out well. But there it is.

  13. 63
    SteveP says:

    So, Mr. Blagden at 49. Tell us, how long have you been having uncomfortable emotions about the emotions of other people? Would you like to share your feelings about this? Don’t worry. You are among friends.

    Also could you elaborate on your compulsion to think in certain ways. “I can’t help but think that….” .That statement gives us a lot of insight into your situation.

    Also Mr. Blagden, we are concerned about your somewhat overstated belief in your own understanding of psychology. “It has long been known that panic, depression and despair are associated with wild and irrational thought and over-reaction. “ But are not those reactions also a perfectly natural response to situations that arise in life? Absent your having had Navy SEAL training, I bet we could put you in a situation where you would exhibit, panic, depression, and despair. Why do you want people to repress these feelings? What are you afraid of? You can, you know, simply skip those sections of the blog and read something else if you are troubled by them. But we are glad that you got this out in the open so that we can work on it. .

    But enough sarcasm already. I think many of us here would like you to remember how the right wing was afraid that Obama was going to set up internment camps, and take away peoples’ guns, but it never happened? In retrospect, that can be seen as a wild and irrational over-reaction now, can’t it.?

    However, to Jews in Nazi Germany, fear of being sent to an internment camp was not at all an irrational fear, was it. So when CNN has a banner on its news cast saying that the Alt Right leader in Washington the other day questioned whether Jews are human, it is going to have a serious effect on a lot of people. When the Alt Right leader Spencer gives a Nazi salute in Washington DC at a convention, it can give one pause for thought and feeling and reflection. When a group of prominent Trump supporters in Washington DC publicly shout “Hail Trump! Hail Our People! Hail Victory! it might be time for you to wake up Brian. At the very least, we have a situation where the boundaries of civility and taste have been trampled into the mud by a powerful lout. At the worst, we have a terminal condition.

    There is no need for over-reaction Mr. Blagsden, but there are certain signs and evidence that cannot be ignored. And psychology is now a science. Deal with it.

    Oh, and have a nice day!

  14. 64
    Mal Adapted says:

    Roger Murphy:

    yes the planet has warmed, thats way better than cooled (who knew?) so just relax and be thankful that you live in one of the best times to be alive

    One supposes that if Mr. Murphy fell off a tall building he’d relax and be thankful to be alive, at least until he wasn’t anymore.

    He’s glad the planet has warmed because it’s “way better” than cooled (he doesn’t actually know it’s better, of course, it’s just a feeling he has). I wonder how thankful he’ll be when wet-bulb temperature exceeds 32 degrees C for days at a time where he lives.

    If he lives in Houston, my advice is to move somewhere cooler or dryer.

  15. 65
    Mal Adapted says:

    Pete Best:

    regardless of how much we in the west expect our governments to reduce our emissions for us or provide the means to do so in a cost effective manner it still remains out of reach for most of us. Hybrids and electric cars are selling ok but not amazingly so relative to their ICH counterparts for example.

    Pete, the most cost-effective way to reduce GHG emissions is to make emitting them more costly than the alternatives. ICH cars are only “cost-effective” for consumers because we don’t pay the cost of climate change when we fill our fuel tanks. We all pay it one way or another, though. Economists will tell you that a “free” market externalizes, i.e. socializes, the cost of environmental degradation to the extent society allows. Even some Libertarians agree that internalizing externalities is a legitimate role for government.

    What I want from government is a carbon tax on fossil fuel producers, high enough to eliminate the artificial price advantage fossil fuels have over carbon-neutral alternatives. Once the price of gasoline is out of reach of most of us, market forces can be expected to put hybrid and electric cars within reach, and to drive the build-out of carbon-neutral energy and infrastructure to completion rapidly and cost-effectively.

  16. 66

    V 58: What makes you think substituting renewables for ff emissions could take less time?

    BPL: Maybe the fact that a wind farm takes about 9 months to put up, versus more like 9 years for a nuke?

  17. 67

    #58, Victor–

    “What makes you think substituting renewables for ff emissions could take less time?”

    The facts that renewables are much simpler, much more modular (i.e., mass manufacturing), and much easier to permit and to finance. Development time is much quicker for each project–less than half–and they can be carried out economically at all manner of scales.

    Bottom line: RE is much more scalable than nuclear power.

    ““Now” isn’t really an option, is it?”

    ‘Now’ is much more of an option for RE, in that it is currently being deployed at rates that have surprised just about everybody. For instance, in 2014, newly-added RE capacity amounted to ~100 GW:

    So if we keep doing what we did in 2014, we will have added 600 GW nameplate capacity in those 6 years. Sure, that’s worth ~200 GW of nuclear because of lower capacity factors of wind and solar, but we can confidently predict that we will actually have it. And there’s every reason to think that we can ramp production up considerably higher than that. For one thing, costs keep dropping, and are expected to continue to do so for some time.

    Oh, snap, have a look at that, we actually added nearly 150 GW of RE in 2015:

    You see what I mean.

  18. 68
    Jim Eager says:

    For Roger Murphy @59:
    Except what is approaching is not a coastal storm, it’s a tsunami, an entirely different beast, much larger than any coastal storm the current inmates and staff of the sanitorium have ever seen. How does the new guy know that? He has dug through the silt and mud sediment layers in the basement.

  19. 69
    Digby Scorgie says:

    roger murphy @59

    It would’ve been a “coastal storm” if the fossil-fuel industry hadn’t decided fifty years ago that climate action in the near-term was a greater threat to their profits than a disrupted climate in the long-term. It’s amazing what one can achieve when one pumps millions of dollars into a slick decades-long marketing campaign to keep people burning fossil fuel. Of course, it helps when there are so many suckers around just waiting to fall for one’s nonsense. But then there’s a sucker born every minute, isn’t there? Well, it’s not a “coastal storm” any more; it’s a “tsunami”.

  20. 70
    John S Sadowsky says:

    Erik: It sounds like you are talking about CO2 capture at the smoke stack. That’s concentrated CO2 (at least 20%). At the stack, CO2 concentration is a much easier problem and all you do is stuff it underground (which also takes energy). However, I was talking about geo-engineering where we create tree-like machines that will suck CO2 out of the atmosphere, which is only 400 ppm = 0.4%. I remain highly skeptical – and I believe I stated the thermodynamic issue correctly. If you are claiming that could be done with energy from burning coal – I’d like to see the thermodynamic calculations on that kind of enterprise. Some people seem to think that human creativity can eventually solve all problems – and they like to point at Moore’s law as an example. With regards to technological innovation, Moore’s law is really the exception (and it is one that is largely played out now). The idea that we can just rely on geo-engineering to solve our climate problem is extremely risky, at best.

  21. 71
  22. 72
    pete best says:

    Re #65,

    Yer that would sound logical captain but how likely is it to be within a time frame that is relevant? I agree with you, people sing to the tune of their desires relative to what they can afford. People put their careers first apparently (here in the UK people are driving further for that job, up 2 hours each way due to stagnating wages etc) and as such AGW is low down on their list of priorities.

  23. 73
    zebra says:

    Mal Adapted at #65 has unleashed my other personality, “the correct free market definition noodge”.

    “Free markets”, as Adam Smith would understand them, are not the same as “laissez-faire capitalism”– indeed the two are antithetical.

    So first, laissez-faire does result in externalization of costs. But you are missing the fact that externalization of pollution costs has not been the main factor in solidifying the fossil fuel paradigm.

    The main factor is the monopoly/oligopoly status that has been established for FF, with the complicity of governments. As long as you don’t deal with this forcefully, the externality argument is a loser.

    I have always argued for a CT of some form, but it is just one necessary policy element, and a politically difficult one at that. Raise petrol prices in the USA to reflect the harm caused by CO2? Is there one of those emoji for falling-down hysterical laughter?

    No, you have to first free up market forces, and let people get used to the idea of change. I point to the example of LED bulbs as a success story for government applying leverage to the system, and allowing people to recognize a better product without regard to climate change. Electric vehicles and rooftop solar will expand the same way.

  24. 74
    Radge Havers says:

    Roger “Happened-throughout-history” Murphy @59

    How to measure the Ludicrous Quotient of trolls? It is a puzzle.

    Given that roger’s thinly veiled threats in The Bore Hole demonstrate that he can’t even figure out how moderation works, I guess it’s not surprising that he would be too incompetent to discover what climate scientists actually know about the history of the planet.

  25. 75
    In Hell's Kitchen (NYC) says:

    Trump will gut/scrap/cut anything with no potential to enrich him and his family. The Trump candidacy was nothing more than the opening gambit of the perfect heist.

  26. 76
    John McCormick says:

    Re: # 5
    “Right now it looks quite ok I would say.”

    That’s what the suicide jumper yelled out as he fell past the tenth floor.

  27. 77
    prokaryotes says:

    Donald Trump to scrap Nasa’s climate change research because it is ‘too politicised’

    Bad, very bad, and SAD!

  28. 78
    Chrstopher says:

    CCS at $600 or $60 per ton. LOL! You have to get from NY to London. A ticket on the supersonic transport cost $5000, gets you there in 2 hours and generates xxxlbs of CO2. Or you can walk down to the docks, barter your labor in return for a berth on a container cargo ship. You arrive in 2 weeks and release zero carbon. Allow me to fantasize further:

    – I harbor a fantasy that it will be possible to extract carbon, either pre or post combustion, and convert that carbon into a fundamental building material that can be substituted for wood, steel, concrete and plastic. CCS cost?

    – I grow vegetables and do not maintain a lawn. I can count 7 properties adjacent to mine. Each has a massive green lawn and a professional lawn service. No one ever uses these lawns. Convert lawns to vegetable gardens. CCS cost?

    – One of my customers builds a Class A offiec building designed for 1000 employees. 10 years later I am hired to recommission the building HVAC systems. There are 350 employees in the building but no effort has been made to reduce the CO2 footprint. The owner could vacate 2 (of 4) entire floors. CCS cost? There is a major subway station a 5 minute walk. However, 325 employees arrive in private single occupant vehicles. CCS cost?

    – Another customer reports that two of 7 major air handling systems run 24/7. Long story short. The loading dock has an electric roll up door. A key is required to operate the door, no one has a key and the door has never been closed. The AHU stops daily at 5pm. The hall adjacent to the loading dock cools and the AHU starts to warm the hall. A bug in the software causes the AHU to run until next scheduled start time. 6 weeks after I report this tio my customer and the loading dock door is still open. Possible solution, replace the keyed switch with a simple pushbutton switch. CCS cost?

    – I can go on and on and on. CCS cost nothing. In many cases it will cost nothing.

  29. 79
    Chrstopher says:

    I am in favor of any and all measures that will reverse the global warming crisis, nuclear included. However, nuclear power advocates must justify the cost. Vogtle 3 and 4 in Georgia were advertised to prove that the industry could build on schedule and on budget. My understanding is that these projects are grossly over budget, behind schedule, do not have a solution to the waste disposal problem, are dependent on the public financing and cannot exist without transferring private risk to the public back. These plants will declare bankruptcy, abandon the debt holders and sell to the highest private bidder for a dime on the dollar.

    Meanwhile, Elon Musk, Tesla and Solar City (to be copied by the free market)will bring a low cost solar solution to market that has none of the described problems. Combined with smaller, modern energy efficient homes, free fuel (sun) and CCS cost falls to near zero. PS Solar City’s new roofing tiles replace conventional roofing materials, will outlast the house and eliminate reroofing every 20 – 30 years.

    Reducing carbon emmissions is simple, cost are near zero. The public will is lacking.

  30. 80
    Racetrack Playa says:

    At this point, it’s simply about replacing coal, oil and natural gas with wind, solar and storage as fast as possible. The world leaders in renewabe energy manufacturing are China and Germany, so that’s who will be leading the way. There’s no other way to get off fossil fuels while maintaining modern civilization, after all. As far as which political party controls the U.S. Government, well, let’s not forget Obama oversaw a steep increase in U.S. oi & gas production from 2009 – 2016, including opening the export laws to sell oil overseas for the first time. And, due to market forces, it’s very very unlikely that coal will ever make a comeback. Politicians have less control over the energy markets than people think; but they could, if they wanted, eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and pass the kind of pro-renewable energy laws that China and Germany have.

    As far as the warming trend, here’s something about the lack of a so-called ‘hiatus’:

    Oceans act as a ‘heat sink’: No global warming ‘hiatus’
    November 22, 2016
    University of Delaware
    Summary: The so-called global warming “hiatus” phenomenon — the possible temporary slowdown of the global mean surface temperature (GMST) trend said to have occurred from 1998 to 2013 — simply represents a redistribution of energy within Earth system, which includes the land, atmosphere and the ocean. New research points to the prominent role global ocean played in absorbing extra heat from the atmosphere by acting as a “heat sink” as an explanation for the observed decrease in a key indicator of climate change.

  31. 81
    Gordon says:

    The assault on NASA earth sciences
    should be met by a general strike by
    the science community.

  32. 82
    james says:

    Refering to Nick #8 in the shock horror gasp category the Australian Parliament just debated “Is global warming real”

  33. 83
    meher engineer says:

    @ 32, Eli Rabett has a cogent piece on the sea ice area AND sea Ice Extent maps, and on the difference between them at
    some of the comments on the article are also good.

  34. 84
  35. 85
    Chris O'Neill says:


    What I want from government is a carbon tax on fossil fuel producers

    It’s just a pity that carbon taxes are ripe for ruthless political exploitation by populist politicians who are far more interested in winning elections than coming to a bipartisan agreement to try to avoid adverse effects of carbon pollution. We saw one example of this in the Australian election in 2013 where a ruthless populist promised to rescind the existing carbon tax.

  36. 86
    Hank Roberts says:

    > a general strike by the science community

    You first, whatever science is that you do.
    Tell us how that improves things.

  37. 87
    Chrstopher says:

    I can only see 50 comments… the “NEXT” button is missing. I check this on my laptop and Android. Problem exists on both platforms.

  38. 88
    Barbara says:

    I don’t know why anyone’s upset about NASA being told to fund research into deep space rather than climate change. Americans have a pioneering spirit. Won’t you be happy for them when they all emigrate to Mars and Titan?

  39. 89
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    I agree with “…what you’re feeling now would still have been almost as appropriate had the election gone the other way.”

    In fact I’ve been feeling that way for many years, knowing human nature & our culture & how ferocious the climate change denialists are. And I’m not referring to the professional denialists (many of who probably KNOW AGW is happening but are well paid to deceive), but to those in the general public.

    That’s why I was thinking about having funerals for life on earth even before the election, when I thought it would go the other way. Such events could be used as teaching moments, bec many will say that they earth isn’t dying. To which we can respond that AGW will be a very long process of people and other life forms dying over decades, centuries, and millennia. It’s like cancer — which is imperceptible except thru tests in the initial stages, but once is it very perceptible is it often too late to cure it.

  40. 90
    Russell says:

    Recent election results in Britain, France, and the US suggest a world less irrevocably fracked than irredeemably fractious

  41. 91
    Cloyd says:

    As a non scientist I feel that I lack standing when it comes to questioning the studies shared here. Yet I feel that there is a substantial error in the quantification of the U.S. carbon emissions. I suspect that our carbon footprint continues to grow substantially. The heavy industrial base of the US did not just collapse, it has been outsourced. It appears that we now pat ourselves on the back for a reduction in emissions that has not occurred, and may have in fact increased.
    We need a new metric to quantify the carbon input in our economy.

  42. 92
    Mal Adapted says:


    Mal Adapted at #65 has unleashed my other personality, “the correct free market definition noodge”.

    My brief comment was hardly all there is to say about carbon taxes. Nor can anyone address all possible objections to them in a single comment, although I’ve tried to answer a few of them in comments I’ve made on other threads. In any case IANAE (although since my brother is, I do look a bit like one), so I tend to defer to, and other dedicated sites.


    So first, laissez-faire does result in externalization of costs. But you are missing the fact that externalization of pollution costs has not been the main factor in solidifying the fossil fuel paradigm.

    The main factor is the monopoly/oligopoly status that has been established for FF, with the complicity of governments. As long as you don’t deal with this forcefully, the externality argument is a loser.

    I did not mention the political power of fossil fuel money in my last comment, but I have not “missed” it. Indeed I have acknowledged it on RC and elsewhere, iteratively and in no doubt boring detail, as the primary obstacle to current efforts to mitigate AGW. OTOH you, AFAIK, have not sufficiently documented your claim that it was “the monopoly/oligopoly status that has been established for FF, with the complicity of governments”, rather than the inherent tendency of energy markets to externalize the social cost of carbon, that enabled the Industrial Revolution from its outset. Nor have you shown that price-sensitive consumer demand did not play a major role in the historic development of IC automobiles, coal-fired electricity generation, natural-gas-fueled home heating and the rest of our highly efficient system for transferring fossil carbon from geologic sequestration back to the atmosphere.

    Other than that, we are in substantive agreement.

  43. 93
    Victor says:

    While we’re on the subject of Donald Trump, I would like to make a prediction:


    I predict that Trump will resign (perhaps “abdicate” is the more appropriate term) from the presidency within 6 months after his inauguration.

    After observing, to my great amusement, the course of his political “campaign,” the sometimes outrageous and even disgusting things he said, but also the sometimes very reasonable (such as detente with Russia), proposals he came up with, always undermined by the extremely juvenile manner in which he was presenting himself, I didn’t know what to think — but I assumed his chances were nil. After he won, however, it became clear that he didn’t really care very much about any of his proposals, but was simply talking off the top of his head most of the time. At this point I’m convinced that he doesn’t really care much about any of the issues he’s raised, but is simply thrilled that he managed to get elected, the ultimate ego massage for the ultimate narcissist.

    So, yes, I think he will cave on climate change — it’s obvious that his skepticism was never based on anything more than a gut reaction, and he will be easily swayed by all the tremendous pressure he’ll be under from so many world leaders. It seems clear that he’s about to cave on many other of his political promises, because at heart I don’t think he’s thought much about any of them and at this point wants simply to be admired by as many important people as possible.

    At a certain point, however, it will become clear to him that he is not suited to the job, and the necessity of making so many very difficult and often painful decisions will become intolerable. And at that point, given his incredibly juvenile, self-centered nature, it will occur to him that he doesn’t really need all this tsurus in his life — after all, he is a multi-billionaire whose greatest pleasure derives from deal making — and will not find it a problem to, very simply, opt out. He got what he wanted: he won. And that’s all he really ever needed was to win. What comes after winning would be, from his standpoint, irrelevant. And since he’s never shown any sign of real responsibility, he’ll feel no obligation to accept the hard part of the job, the necessity to actual think through very difficult problems and make hard decisions, especially when they could diminish his popularity. Why not quit while he’s ahead? Which is what I think he will do.

  44. 94
    t marvell says:

    Things are so bad, even with the Paris Accords, that Trump probably can only make them a little worse. That’s what David says. On the whole, the comments do not seem to appreciate what this means. There seems to be virtually no chance that we will escape 2 degrees before much can be done.
    Apparently, the only feasible way out is a drastic global economic depression, which would be as damaging as global warming. Carbon capture is unrealistic, as some comments say. Current non-carbon energy sources have a long way to go before they can appreciably affect CO2 levels. Too bad fission is so politically unpopular. I hate to say it, any one trying to be optimistic is limited to a Hail Mary – a new non-carbon energy that can quickly take over from coal, gas, and oil. That should be a major focus of research. The “cold fusion” scandal, I suspect, makes researchers afraid to explore odd topics, but that must be done.

  45. 95
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    It just occurred to me that maybe there will be a decline in GHGs under Trump, maybe even a sharp decline. His economic policies and ideas, if implemented, may put the US into a tailspin recession. Even most economists were saying his ideas were bad.

    He certainly will not do as much as Hillary would have regarding helping the economy with needed infrastructure building and other programs that would have put people to work (helping them increase their GHG emissions).

    We know that simply giving money and tax-breaks to the rich does nothing to stimulate the economy; it doesn’t trickle down. And how may private jets or yachts can a rich person be on at one time? According to laws of economic physics, only one.

  46. 96

    #85–You might enjoy the delicious irony, then, of Nicholas Sarkoczy, the former French president nicknamed in office “Sarko l’americain”, reportedly suggesting carbon tariffs on US goods under existing WTO rules.

  47. 97
    Darryl Williams says:

    CBC’s “As It Happens” radio show on 23 Nov featured an interview with Robert Walker. He’s the former chairman of the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee, and a Trump advisor. As you can imagine, he came across as a complete global warming denier, spouting the usual nonsense about climate models being all wrong, and denying things he has said in print. The interviewer, Carol Off, tripped him up several times.

    The transcript is here:

    And you can listen to the podcast from a link on the same page – about 11 minutes long.

  48. 98
    mike says:

    We really need to stop talking about dropping CO2 emissions and focus on the important matter: the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere. It will not/does not matter whether the source of CO2 is directly caused by humans through burning of fossil fuels or indirectly caused by humans through disruption to the natural global carbon cycle, if enough CO2 accumulates in the ocean and atmosphere, we are cooked.

    It’s time to talk very frankly and effectively with all human beings on the planet about the accumulation of GHG in the atmosphere. Our best and only hope in the US for addressing this situation resides with republicans. When republicans get very worried about ghg accumulation, we will see a decrease in the culture war over climate change and we will be able to take effective action about this existential challenge.

    It is not going to work to say, hey, I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you. If you understand the problem, the burden is on you to explain it over and over, in every manner possible until enough people understand the problem and we reach critical mass to address the problem.

    If you understand the problem and are employed as a climate scientist, this is on you. No whining please if powerful interests respond to your historically ineffective calls for change by muzzling you. There are a lot of people who are really suffering on this planet. A lot of them are suffering from climate change impact. President Trump now says you need to study Mars instead of earth science. I feel your pain. It is slight.

    Up your game now.

    warm regards


  49. 99
    Greg Iverson says:

    #81 “The assault on NASA earth sciences
    should be met by a general strike by
    the science community.”

    Bad suggestion. Remember the traffic control strike. My reading of Mr. Trump is he has no need of science. Federal employees who strike would be fired and very likely not replaced.

  50. 100
    Chris says:

    By making a *global* agreement un-workable, the Trump effect will only be responsible for additional emissions from USA..?

    I’m sorry to say, this is a very misleading analysis intended to assuage feelings of regret over the election. Rigorous examination of the effect on policy and emissions around the globe will probably prove you wrong. And then you can feel regret over the surrender and complacency you inspired.