Environment

One Big Question: What will happen if Trump pulls out of the Paris Agreement?

One Big Question: What will ha...
How much more will the Earth warm if Trump pulls the US out of the Paris Agreement?
How much more will the Earth warm if Trump pulls the US out of the Paris Agreement?
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How much more will the Earth warm if Trump pulls the US out of the Paris Agreement?
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How much more will the Earth warm if Trump pulls the US out of the Paris Agreement?

The Paris Agreement is an understanding between over 100 countries across the globe aimed at keeping global warming in check by cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

"The Paris Agreement's central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius," says the United Nations.

The agreement went into force earlier this month and has been ratified by 113 different parties thus far. The United States is one of those parties. However, during the recent US election proceedings, president-elect Donald Trump repeatedly said that he would pull his country out of the accord and remove restrictions on energy production in America.

Wondering just what impact that could have on the climate and the agreement itself, as part of our regular column called "One Big Question," we turned to Donald Boesch, professor of marine science and president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, to see what he thought. Here's what he had to say.

If the Trump Administration withdraws from the Paris Agreement or fails to reduce its emission by the amount and timing of its commitment, it will likely be impossible to limit global warming below two degrees Celsius, even if all the other nations succeed in achieving their commitments. I don't know if this scenario has been modeled, but it seems to me that global temperature would be likely to warm by three to four degrees Celsius. The consequences of this would mean for a place like Australia, an extra 0.3 m of sea level rise during this century, even more droughts and heat waves, and an existential crisis for the Great Barrier Reef.

The U.S. is presently responsible for 20 percent of global emissions, but, because it is such large emitter on a per capita basis, must bear a larger percentage of the needed reductions over the next 30 years. Furthermore, without the participation of the US, it seems to me to be unlikely that all other nations would be obliged to honor their greenhouse gas reduction commitments.

Having said all of this, there are extensive efforts to reduce emissions at the state level (e.g. California and Maryland) and among global businesses with a large presence in the US such that US emissions would likely still be reduced. However, the US commitments depend heavily on what is called the Clean Power Plan implemented by executive action under the Obama Administration. This requires reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from electrical generation, so the states will also have difficulty in achieving their emission reduction goals as this is regulated at the federal level.

Boesch also pointed us to an interview he did with public radio station WYPR earlier this month in which he said the following.

To misunderstand the breadth of support (the Paris Agreement has) across the globe is a real danger for our country. It spills over not only in terms of the economic markets that are going to drive the future, in that we'll be left out of them, but we'll be a pariah. We'll be a pariah in the global stage on almost everything if we stay out of this. This is that serious.

33 comments
Bob
Transferring most of our manufacturing to China to escape pollution controls never seems to get mentioned much nor does the fact that the world economy and progress depends on cheap fossil fuels. Instead, governments are more interested in a new carbon tax and extending their power. CO2 emissions can and will not be lowered until it is economical to do so. While many countries will pay lip service to lowering CO2, most will cheat for economic gain. The earth is quite good at regulating itself. Warmer temperatures will mean more water vapor in the atmosphere which will result in more rain and snow. More snow in the upper latitudes will reflect more sunlight resulting in more cooling. The earth has done this before and knows what to do to regulate itself. The next ice age will be harder to deal with.
Robert Walther
So, to be certain to save the Great Barrier Reef we need to exterminate at least 2/3rds of the world's population. I have my list. What about you?
Jeff J Carlson
nice try ... you asked him what would happen and he immediately went off and speculated and admitted he doesn't really know ... sad ...
JoeMet
We can only hope that Trump does. The idea that man can stop warming on this planet is ridiculous. The biggest hoax the world has ever seen.
Tet68
I have to wonder if someone wasn't paid for this article. First of all with the world governments spreading chemicals in the air and then bombarding them with microwave radiation how could anyone tell if there was global. And then there was the urgency of world governments to join in this probably fraud. What besides money could attract so many. I have been observing the weather since the early 50's. I have seen nothing that hasn't happened in the past. I had a biology teacher that said the only sure thing is change. Back in the 50's they told us an ice age was coming. When was that. I think our last election shows how much the voters trust government. It is time for the lies to come to an end.
flyerfly
Hello, my name is chicken little and I believe the sky is falling... Seriously as others said we get almost ALL our heat from a nearby star. Unless we control that star we are NOT going to control the heat coming to our planet. Our control over the heat loss to space from our planet is insignificant. The sun has cycles, get over it or deal with it. I like clean air etc...but this whole "climate change" hysteria is a huge power/money grab that is not based on good science. Shorelines have come and gone for thousands of years...get up and move or don't live in a flood zone. People need to calm down and realize there are certain things that make a difference and there are are things you can't make a difference no matter how much you want to... we are not god's and we can't control everything!
Grainpaw
What the deniers lack in understanding, logic, and knowledge, they make up for in ignorance, gullibility, and bafflegab.
JeffWilde
We're having weather. I chuckle to myself when I think that what I exhale (CO2) is killing us. I feel sorry for these people. The government and our education system has them scared to death.
slarmas
It is also funny that Obama did everything by executive action which only applies to the executive branch of government, not to you or I. The law that is needed has to be created by Congress. I honestly hope Trump prioritizes living over dying. I would rather be able to put food on the table than spend all my money which is stolen from me by the government paying lip service to what is essentially a power grab and a mechanism of control. Climate change is true, has happened long before we were here, and will happen long after we are gone. We need to make all reasonable efforts to control pollution but we should pair the reward with the economic loss. If a measure prevents 10 cancers per million by forcing millions to live in economic hell under iron rule by depraved governments, the measure should not be passed or even conceived. Governments want power so we must always be armed and vigilant against their trespasses.
dbenware
I Wonder: They say that if the USA pulls out then the sea level would rise 0.3m in 100 years. --BUT-- Using known hard numbers that date back to when we were able to keep accurate records (1850's). The average sea level rise is 0.3cm/year. --SO-- If we do nothing and wait 100 years, then the sea would rise 30cm (0.3m) on it own. Conclusion: USA in (0.3m) vs USA out (0.3m).?.? I don't see the different. Do you?.?.?