- - Monday, November 14, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President-elect Donald Trump is going to need strong support from “climate realists” if he is to stem the hemorrhage of billions of U.S. tax dollars being wasted on climate change. If realists, those of us who oppose the idea that humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions threaten the climate, are not outspoken, then Mr. Trump may have little choice but to yield to the aggressive and influential climate movement.

In the wake of the Republican presidential victory, climate activists and their allies in media and government have vowed to intensify the battle.

Greenpeace headlined their website the day after the election, “Together We Are Stronger Than Trump.” On Nov. 10, NextGen Climate emailed subscribers, “We will not go quietly into the night,” and promised that they will “be part of the movement to resist the Trump presidency.” NexGen asked respondents, “Are you ready to fight?”

On the same day, The New York Times warned, “Donald Trump Could Put Climate Change on Course for ‘Danger Zone.’ ” The National Geographic Society did the same, publishing, “The Global Dangers of Trump’s Climate Denial,” in which we were told that “Trump’s stance on climate change runs counter to physical evidence, near-universal scientific consensus, and analyses by military experts and the U.S. Department of Defense.”

Making undoing President Obama’s draconian environmental plans even tougher for Mr. Trump, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to push through a slew of “midnight regulations” before Mr. Obama leaves office. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy emailed staff after the Republican candidate’s victory, saying, “We’re running — not walking — through the finish line of President Obama’s presidency.”

Considering the forces marshalled against Mr. Trump’s climate stance, it may not have been overly optimistic for former Vice President Al Gore to write on Nov. 9 about his hope that Mr. Trump will work with him on the issue. After all, until recently, the president-elect supported the climate scare. In 2009 he signed an open letter to Mr. Obama and Congress that stated: “Please don’t postpone the Earth. If we fail to act now, it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet.”

In 2014, the Donald Trump Foundation gave $5,000 to Protect Our Winters, an Olympic snowboarder’s climate change advocacy group. Time magazine reported on May 23 that the Trump International Hotel in Ireland cited “global warming and its effects” as a reason for its permit application to build a seawall beside its golf course to prevent coastal erosion.

Mr. Trump, a registered Democrat from 2001 to 2008, even gave between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation, which lists climate change as its first “issue area.” And, although the vast majority of his recent donations have been to Republicans, according to The Washington Post, as of 2011, Mr. Trump had given 54 percent of his $1.3 million political contributions to Democrats.

Mr. Trump explains all this as sensible business practice: “When they call, I give. And you know what, when I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them. They are there for me.”

So Mr. Trump is a pragmatist. If he concludes that supporting the climate scare works best for his administration — and rest assured, climate activists will do everything in their power to make his climate skepticism as uncomfortable as possible — then he may very well change sides again.

Americans should look north for an illustration of what is likely to happen if climate realists do not hold Mr. Trump’s feet to the fire.

Before first winning in 2006, former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised to get to the bottom of the climate change file. In a 2002 fundraising letter for the now-defunct Canadian Alliance, Mr. Harper called the U.N. climate process “a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations.”

Yet Mr. Harper changed sides on climate change soon after being elected. In an attempt to appease activists and the media, and in the absence of significant pressure from realists, he supported U.N. negotiations to “stop dangerous climate change.” He made greenhouse gas reduction pledges Canada had no chance of keeping without destroying its economy, wasting billions of dollars in the process.

Climate realists must strongly support Mr. Trump’s skepticism, providing him with the tools he needs to justify and maintain his current position, or they risk the sort of defection to alarmism that occurred with Mr. Harper and both President Bushes. In particular, they need to convince the president-elect to make full use of reports such as those of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, which demonstrate that much of what Mr. Obama has been telling the American people about climate science is simply wrong.

Otherwise, Mr. Trump may feel compelled to cooperate with activists such as Mr. Gore. It would be a disaster for the U.S. economy and everyone else who depends on a prosperous America for our freedom.

Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition.

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