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Trump can save his presidency with a great deal to save the climate

Posted on 22 February 2017 by dana1981

A month into his presidency, Donald Trump already has a minus-8 job approval rating (43% approve, 51% disapprove). Congress has a minus-50 approval rating, and the Republican Party has a minus-14 favorability rating. All are facing widespread protests, marches, and public resistance. Hundreds of concerned constituents have been showing up to town hall events held by Republican Congressmen, like this one with Tom McClintock (R-CA):

His constituents asked McClintock about the current hot-button issues: repealing Obamacare, the border wall, the Muslim ban, and climate change.

The first three topics have strong support from the Republican base, but they’re unpopular among most of the rest of Americans. That’s why Trump’s approval is held afloat by Republican support (about 85% approve), while only 35% of independents and fewer than 10% of Democrats view him favorably. In fact, they view these policies so unfavorably that there are constant mass protests. And then there’s this:

Betting markets think the odds are better that Trump won't last the year than that he'll be re-elected 

Trump and the Republican Party need an issue and a policy that has strong support among all Americans. Climate change and a carbon tax fit the bill perfectly.

Americans - including Republicans - support climate solutions

Surveys by Yale and George Mason universities have shown that Trump voters support taking action to address climate change.

  • 69% of Americans - including about half of Trump voters - think the US should participate in the Paris climate agreement.
  • 80% of Americans - including 62% of Trump voters - agree that the US should regulate and/or tax carbon pollution. More Trump voters support doing both (31%) than doing neither (21%).
  • 66% of Americans support a carbon tax, as do about half of Trump voters.
  • 81% of Americans - including 73% of Trump voters - think the country should use more renewable energy.
  • 55% Americans - including 33% of Trump voters - think we should use less fossil fuels than we do today. Only 31% of Trump voters think we should use more fossil fuels.
Trump poll

It’s also important to note that only 27% of eligible voters cast their ballots for Trump in 2016; 28% voted for Hillary Clinton, and 40% didn’t vote at all. In a recent nationwide survey, Larry Hamilton at the University of New Hampshire found that 48% of Trump voters think renewable energy should be a higher priority, as do 63–100% from the other groups, including 84% of non-voters. Donald Trump is the president of all Americans, and Americans want climate action.

A revenue-neutral carbon tax would be a great deal

A group of Republican elder statesmen in the Climate Leadership Council recently visited the White House to pitch a revenue-neutral carbon tax policy. The proposal would be a great deal for liberals and conservatives alike – a true bipartisan compromise. It would tax carbon pollution, which would cause fuel and energy prices to rise, but 100% of the revenue would be returned to taxpayers via a periodic (monthly or quarterly) rebate check to offset those costs. And it would be good for the economy.

It’s a tough sell for Republicans in Congress, who rely upon campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry. However, President Trump isn’t beholden to fossil fuel interests. Additionally, many Republican policymakers want to take action to protect the climate. They understand the science, the risks that climate change poses to future generations, and frankly to their own party. But they’re afraid of being primaried like Bob Inglis was. Were Trump to support a carbon tax, it would provide cover for congressional Republicans to follow his lead.

The left torpedoed a similar proposal in the state of Washington in the 2016 election. Those behind the proposition insulted environmental justice groups rather than making the case that the policy would benefit low-income households. Generally speaking, liberals prefer to spend tax revenue on programs to help people and accelerate the transition to a green economy. But low-income households spend a bigger chunk of their income on fuel and energy, so a carbon tax disproportionately impacts them. However, if the revenue is rebated equally to all taxpayers - as the Climate Leadership Council proposed - poorer Americans actually benefit from the carbon tax.

Congressional Democrats are on board with this policy, as are a number of Congressional Republicans, at least in private meetings. And a majority of Americans – including Trump voters – want the government to take action to address climate change. Even though many of those conservatives are unconvinced by climate science, they’re willing to tax and/or regulate carbon pollution to mitigate the risks in case the scientific experts are right. Even most oil companies support a carbon tax.

Congressional Republicans and Donald Trump hate government regulations, including EPA carbon pollution regulations. But repealing those regulations without a replacement won’t make their voters happy, and won’t be able to break through a Senate filibuster in any case.

Scott Pruitt will undoubtedly do what he can to hamper EPA efforts to curb carbon pollution, but he likely won’t be able to accomplish much more than handcuffing the EPA until a new administration is elected and he’s replaced. However, we can’t afford four to eight years of delayed climate action, so replacing those hampered EPA regulations with a robust revenue-neutral, small government, free market carbon tax would be a good deal for both the left and the right.

Can Trump make the deal?

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Comments 1 to 14:

  1. A revenue neutral carbon tax could indeed appeal to a people with divergent world views, at least in theory. It could indeed form a good deal between democrats and republicans, and lift Trumps ratings, in theory. The trouble is climate denial is virtually a prerequisite for Republican Party politicians, and this is very embedded now. That's a big thing that would have to change.Trump needs their support to pass various bills related to the economy, so can't afford to alienate them too much.

    A revenue neutral carbon tax seems like a very desirable, rational approach, in that it drives behaviour, and also provides a revenue stream and one that can be very targeted. The trouble is the Trump Administration is driven more by convictions, than rationality or evidence, by my observation. Again how likely is that to change? They seem more focused on imagined short term problems, (heavy emphasis on the word imagined), and conspiracy theories. It's in their DNA.

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  2. I have been working on a climate model that is able to determine carbon dioxide's contribution to the daily temperature that we achieve compared to the temperature that we would be as a black body.  Here is a cut and paste of my slides that I will be presenting this weekend. 


    Heat Trapping Capability of Carbon Dioxide

    Based upon an Ideal condition:

    •The period of time between the daily high and daily low is tied with stable atmospheric

    conditions where any volume of surface air is identical to an adjacent volume.

    •The sunlight received at the surface provides enough energy on a sunny day for the surface to

    convert an abundance of infra-red photons, which will be radiated from the surface of the

    earth, and these photons will be equal to or greater than required to excite all the water vapor

    and all the carbon dioxide molecules in a volume of atmospheric gases, from the surface to the

    troposphere, resulting in the maximum daily temperature.

    •As the molecules reach an average kinetic energy some will reach an excited state of superposition; they will randomly collide with other molecules in the atmosphere and transfer their absorbed energy to these molecules.

    •The amount of heat held in by the greenhouse gases can be determined by the minimum temperature achieved before dawn, if the local weather is stable, and not influenced by incoming or outgoing fronts.

    •current climate model to predict the heating caused by carbon dioxide necessarily relies on a doubling of carbon dioxide. This method seems arbitrary and it does not allow for accurate predictions of future temperature rise as a function of carbon dioxide concentration.

    Basis for the Model

    •This model has been developed by determining the ratios of three physical heat trapping properties between water vapor molecules and carbon dioxide molecules.

    •the Infra-red absorption spectrum of water vapor and carbon dioxide

    •the ratio of effusion rates between water vapor molecules and carbon dioxide molecules

    •the molar concentration ratio of water vapor and carbon dioxide (variable and dependent of absolute humidity)

    •The model also uses the difference between the average blackbody

    temperature of the earth and the global average temperature of the earth.

    •Calculated using Wein’s Displacement Law

    •Average blackbody temperature is -180 C and this would happen if there were

    no greenhouse gases. Global average is 14.8 0 C.

    •This difference is always 32.8 0 C.

    Heating Coefficient between Water vapor and CO2

    •Adding up the peak absorption energies of water vapor shows that a water molecule can absorb 3.72 x 10-33J. The energies are calculated from the peak absorption wavelengths: (1.3 μm, 1.8 μm, 2.6 μm, 6.0 μmand 20 μm)

    •Adding up the peak absorption energies of carbon dioxide shows that a molecule of CO2can absorb 1.33 x 10-33J . The energies are calculated from the peak absorption wavelengths:(2.7 μm, 4.3 μmand 14.9 μm)

    •The heating coefficient between water vapor and CO2is 2.8


    •Molar mass of water and CO2is 18g/moland 44 g/molrespectively

    •Use Graham’s Law of Effusion to find the diffusion rate

    •Water diffuses 1.56 times faster than CO2.


    •Water vapor can range from 4000 parts per million by volume to 12,000 parts per million by volume.

    •Carbon dioxide stay steady throughout the year at 404 ppmv

    •This coefficient can vary from a value of 9.9 to 30.

    Total Coefficient for heat capturing ability of water compared to carbon dioxide.

    •1.56 x 2.8 x 19.95 = 87

    Average Value that Carbon dioxide contributes to daily

    heating above blackbody temperature is:

    32.8/87 = 0.38degrees Celsius.

    That is .00093 0C/ppmv

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] This is totally offtopic. PLease use the search function to find an appropriate place to comment (and pay attention to the comments policy). Perhaps the "Increasing CO2 has little effect myth"

  3. Rudmop @2, in order of importance:

    1)  The strength of the greenhouse effect of a given gas is a direct function of the difference in power radiated to space by that gas and the power radiated by the surface, and intercepted from going to space by that gas.  As the power radiated to space is an inverse function of the temperature of the gas at the mean altitude of radiation to space, the vertical distribution of the concentration of relevant gases is a fundamental property without which no valid determination of relative greenhouse effect of different gases can be made.  This is particularly the case when comparing the effect of CO2 to H2O, because of their very different concentration profiles:


    From an altitude of 10 Km, on average, CO2 has a higher concentration than water vapour.  The closer you approach the poles, the lower the altitude at which this is the case.  Unless your model introduces the vertical structure of the atmosphere, it will be GIGO for the stated purpose.  In particular, your failure to take into account the vertical concentration structure and mean altitude of radiation to space means you "concentration coefficient" is completely incorrect as regards impact on the greenhouse effect.

    2)  The energy trapping capability of each molecule is not simply a function of the sum of the energies at the absorption peaks in the spectra.  It is also a function of the relative energy radiated at those wavelengths from the surface:

    As you can see above, there is virtually zero energy radiated at 1.3 μm, 1.8 μm and 2.6 μm, so those bands should be heavilly discounted for H2O.  Likewise the 2.7 μm and 4.3 μm bands of CO2 are of minimal importance.  In contrast, the 14.9 μm CO2 band and 20 μm H2O band are of fundamental importance as they occur near the peak of outgoing IR radiation from the surface.

    The additional factor is the rate at which the energy is reradiated from those bands, which is a function of temperature, which in turn is a function of altitude.  The energy "trapped" per second is the energy absorbed minus the energy reradiated.  The colder the temperature of the gas, the lower is the energy reradiated and hence the greater the energy trapped.  This, of course, just restates point (1).

    Your failure to include a weighting for energy available to be absorbed at each wavelength, and energy released by each gas at each wavelength means your calculated ratio for the "heating coefficient" is wrong in methodology, and completely incorrect in result.

    3)  You have not explained, and nor can I see what relevance rates of diffusion have on the result.  In particular, concentration levels of CO2 (in particular) and to a lesser extent H2O are fairly stable so that rates of change in the concentration in still air (diffusion) have no bearing on spatial patterns of concentration, which you do not allow for in your equation in any event.

    In sum, you have either not justified, or are explicitly incorrect with regard to the major assumptions of your model.  To be frank, you would be far better of using existing radiation models such as the Modtran model used by the University of Chigago to calculate the relative impact on Outgoing Longwave Radiation (ie, the power emitted at 70 km, looking down) of removing CO2, water or clouds.

    Alternatively, you can simply look up the results of such determinations using a full Global Circulation Model, such as by Schmidt et al (2010).  They have determined that CO2 is responsible for about 20% of the total greenhouse effect, with water vapour and clouds being responsible for 75% and the other 5% being the responsibility of minor greenhouse gases.  That is a far cry from you determination that CO2 is responsible for just 1.15%.  

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    Moderator Response:

    [PS] Can we please have further comments in an appropriate place.

  4. Give up on trying to convince Trump about climate change.  Instead get the memes into his head about how much money America is wasting buying oil overseas and how that money comes back to buy up America and make Americans tenants in their own country and how some of it goes to support the terrs.  Emphasize, how renewables can be used to charge electric cars from Tesla, an all American company and all the money saved can be used for the rebuild, getting Americans back to work and making Trump the Hero of the day.  We need to put the EMphasis on the right syLAble.

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  5. Tom Curtis@3,

    You know beter than me that Rudmop@2 post is 100% off topic here (in addition to its presentation being so incoherent that it's essentially gish-galloping rubish) - I'm surprised it wasn't deleted yet.

    If you want to show us some substence of that incoherent nonsense and respond to it (thanks for your effort), I suggest you go straight into the appropriare threads (e.g. about climate models reliability) rather than dragging that off topic discussion here.

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  6. This article comes perilously close to offending the rules on political topics!

    It will be interesting to see what the new administration's energy/climate policies are in practice, given the incoherent approach so far.

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  7. I'm sorry but this is just wishful thinking... trump does not know how to care about other people and instead is relying on his 'advisors'  for policy decisions which, and I am not saying this off-handedly, include Putin and his vast oil reserves... Putin needs demand as high as possible to drive up the price so I would be VERY surprised to see any real initiative that would make a dent in the market make it through to US law. Sure it's possible but doing so is a way of admiting to climate change and that's a big no-no.

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  8. I humbly submit that my post was not off topic, because if we are proposing legislation on regulating "pollution that causes global warming" then perhaps there should know the value for the daily heating that carbon dioxide contributes. When I cut and pasted my slides into the post, it was all reformatted. I should have taken a bit more care to correct that; however, they are just line breaks and so if that was confused with rambling, I am dumbfounded. But I have it figured out thanks to the humble response of Mr. Curtis and I thank him for enlightening me on the findings. I will respond to his comments/questions in a more appropriate post.

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  9. Recommended supplemental reading…

    Beware the Trump brain rot: The cognitive effects of this administration’s actions could be disastrous

    Democracy isn’t all that’s at risk under Trump’s agenda. There’s a 5-point attack happening on our nation’s minds

    by Sophia McClennen, Salon, Feb 25, 2017

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  10. John

    Having read the Salon piece, I can't help feeling that the Trump administration is acting in exactly the same way that Hitler and his cronies did to persuade and bully the German people to his worldview.  Or am I wrong about this parallel?

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  11. Digby Scorgie @10, while some parallels are noteworthy, the lack of a body equivalent to the Brown Shirts is significant.  Without such a body, Trump will not be able to follow the path of Hitler.  More importantly, it is not evident that he desires to.

    What is clear is that he has a deliberate rhetoric that is weakening confidence and respect for democratic institutions.  His demonization of the press seems an intentional policy to ensure that his followers do not believe any of the reported facts which show him in so poor a light.  That policy, if successful (and it is evidently partly successful already) raises grave concerns over what may happen if he should lose a second term, or be impeached.  His followers will view either, if not disillusioned by then, as unwarranted attempts to remove a President because his administration is "running like a well oiled machine" in pursuit policies they endorse.  They may view such outcomes as a failure of democracy, and therefore consider themselves no longer bound by democratic principles.

    Nor is the threat ony from Trump and his supporters.  Some of the reactions to Trump have been decidedly undemocratic, including the calls for his impeachment before he even took office (and hence before than can have been legal grounds for that impeachment), and the resort to, and glorification of violence (eg, "punch a nazi") by some are both concerning.  Most concerning in that regard is a recent suggestion I have seen that the torrent of leaks against Trump may be motivated by personal animus inspired by Trump's frequent derogatory comments about the intelligence community, and evident disrespect for it.  If they are inspired by animus rather than (as has also been suggested), genuine fears that Trump is a knowing Russian plant; then they amount to an attempted coup by the intelligence services against a lawfully elected President (even if those laws are a perversion of democracy).

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  12. A must read for understanding how Trump got elected, and how democracy is being hijacked:

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] More particulars on the article linked to above.

    Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media 

    With links to Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Nigel Farage, the rightwing US computer scientist is at the heart of a multimillion-dollar propaganda network

    by Carole Cadwalladr, Guardian, Feb 26, 2017

  13. Just adding to the interesting article posted by TC, this article gives an excellent analysis of what motivates Trump, how he sells himself, and further insight on how he got elected.

    The article presents Trump as a showman, with everything focussed on Trump and finishes by saying:

    "But neither at his (Trumps) campaign rallies nor in the opening weeks of his presidency has he challenged the crowds' thinking. The Trump Show is, as ever, a spectacle, a cavalcade of provocations. It is designed not to prompt thought or even to persuade, but to sell tickets to the next performance."

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  14. Tom Curtis @11

    Okay, so we only need to get worried if we see an organization like the Brown Shirts forming.  The trouble is, it seems to me that a segment of American society is already exhibiting similar attitudes to the Brown Shirts.  One hopes they don't get organized.

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