Some Climate Realities for the Incoming Administration to Consider

By Patrick J. Michaels and Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger

While the twitterverse is chirping with concern over Donald Trump’s handling of the global warming science, we offer a few realities that should be key parts of any transitional team’s synthesis.

1. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that by itself will result in a slight warming of the lower atmosphere and surface temperatures, as well as a cooling of the stratosphere.

a. All of these have been observed.

2. Additional warming is provided by a complicated feedback with water vapor. If it were large and positive, so would be future warming.

a. The observed warming is far below values consistent with a high temperature sensitivity. Therefore future warming will run considerably below any high-sensitivity estimate.

b. The disparity between observed and forecast warming continues to grow.

3. Any attempts to mitigate significant future warming with the current suite of politically acceptable technologies are doomed to failure. The Paris Agreement, according the EPA’s own models, only prevents 0.1 to 0.2⁰C of warming by 2100.

a. The Paris Agreement is meaningless, unenforceable, and compels developed nations to tender funds to the developing world. That makes it a treaty that should be submitted to the Senate for ratification, where it will be soundly rejected.

4. Having the government mandate politically correct and inefficient technologies such as solar energy and wind inevitably squanders resources that would better be used for investments in a much more efficient future. Unfortunately, this is what President Obama’s Clean Power Plan does.

a. Voiding the Clean Power Plan will therefore ultimately lead more quickly to competitive, more efficient technologies.

5. Affluent societies have the resources for private investment in novel and efficient technologies, and inevitably are more protective of their environment than are poor ones.

a. Environmental protection is a priority in a vibrant economy. Promoting economic development is the key to a cleaner planet.

6. There is no evidence that government funding of most science is better than a more diversified base of private support. The current dependency of the academy on this funding is creating perverse incentives that are demonstrably harming science.

a. All government-funded science outside of the clandestine realm must be perfectly transparent with data, research methods and results available to any party.

We’ve recently taken a look to see how these comport with the views of Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who was recently named to head the transitional team for the new administration’s EPA. We think he agrees with this us on this synthesis—something no one ever in any previous administration has done!

This article appeared on the Cato Institute website at