Accuracy in Media

President Donald Trump turned the commander-in-chief post into an entry-level position in the federal government. But if he understood politics a little better, he would not have announced Tuesday – on the first day he could – that he planned to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.

When Trump first indicated he wanted to do this – in June 2017 – “the political calculus looked good to the new chief executive,” wrote Justin Worland of Time magazine in “Trump’s Paris Agreement Move Is Unpopular. Here’s How He’s Trying to Spin It.”

Withdrawing would fulfill a campaign promise, please his supporters in the fossil fuel industry and anger only “mostly those unlikely to support him anyway,” Worland noted.

But now, Worland wrote, “the politics have changed: Climate change is now one of the most-discussed issues in the 2020 presidential race and the vast majority of Americans say they support measures to reduce emissions, including the Paris Agreement.”

Worland’s other evidence global warming has become a top issue – a link is provided in his story – is an earlier piece in which Time talked to Iowa farmers, who said, “Farmers and rural Americans, that’s who’s going to solve this.” The piece refers to ethanol and the role farmers play in supplying the corn that is processed into less-efficient fuel mandated to make up 15 percent of U.S. gasoline.

His evidence that global warming has become a top-tier issue is that Democrats are talking about it on the campaign trail. This is a marked difference, he wrote, from 2008, when 1 percent of voters thought it was important and from 2016, when not a single global warming question emerged from any of the presidential debates.

But a survey reported on in the summer found Americans may more or less agree with many of the claims of global warming, but they are unwilling to pay even $10 per month to “fight climate change.”

And most of the Democrat presidential candidates participated in a global warming town hall in September, which produced the lowest rating of any show on any television network that night.

So it is not surprising that, as Worland reported, none of this has “stopped Trump.”

The move to withdraw from the Paris accord has “already” been “criticized” by Democrat presidential candidates and “strategists say [this] will help clearly delineate any eventual Democratic candidate from Trump,” he wrote. “To make the withdrawal even more politically fraught, the decision will take effect the day after the 2020 presidential election.”

Yet, even Trump appears to be coming around somewhat on global warming, Worland wrote. “He’s largely stopped making the brazenly inaccurate claim that climate change is a ‘hoax,’ instead making a more nuanced but also spurious claim that climate policy would mean wrecking the economy.”

Trump has been quoted as recently as late-August calling global warming a hoax.

Worland says it’s also a hoax for Trump to claim his policies, such as promoting fracking, which produces natural gas and thus reduces greenhouse emissions, actually address global warming.

“It goes without saying that there’s a big problem with this rhetoric: It does not accurately reflect the urgency of addressing climate change,” Worland wrote. “A landmark report from the IPCC (the UN’s climate science body) warned last year that the world is on the bring of hitting 1.5C of warming, which could bring a slew of catastrophic effects, including impoverishing millions and driving a mass migration crisis.

“At best, Trump’s policies maintain the status quo. Any future fall in emissions will happen in spite of Trump’s policies – which have sought to restore the high-polluting coal industry, reduce fuel efficiency standards and open vast new swathes of land to oil and gas drilling.”

Worland ignored data from the official NASA global temperature data that showed temperatures had dropped more than a half-degree worldwide in just the two years from February 2016 to February 2018. This included the biggest five-month drop since weather record-keeping began – from February to June 2016.

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