Paris Climate Agreement

The USA is “leaving the Paris Climate Agreement”, in about 4 years, President Trump has declared by executive action. Many countries had ratified the agreement, meaning their leader and likely some congress/senate or other governing body agreed. About ¼ of the countries in the world signed it (including the USA) which means that probably just their leader agreed to it. That being the action that Obama took. That was a mistake on his side (although probably all he was able to do as there was likely no way Congress would have ratified it, being Republican at the time). Because of that, it was easily un-signed by Donald Trump.

(Picture from Business Insider)

As far as I can tell there were not really many actual ramifications to signing the Paris Agreement or leaving the Agreement for the USA from the rest of the world. You can read the Paris Agreement by clicking the link. You can also read the 5 page document the USA sent sharing what our plans were to meet the agreement.

Here are the important sentences along with an easy to understand graph.

“The United States intends to achieve an economy-wide target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 26%-28% below its 2005 level in 2025 and to make best efforts to reduce its emissions by 28%.”-  USA First NDC (nationally determined contribution) Submission

“ The United States has already undertaken substantial policy action to reduce its emissions, taking the necessary steps to place us on a path to achieve the 2020 target of reducing emissions in the range of 17 percent below the 2005 level in 2020. “ – USA First NDC (nationally determined contribution) Submission

These were self professed goals to work along with other countries in the world to reduce all our emissions together.

The US is the world’s second-largest carbon emitter, after China. Together, the countries accounted for 45% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions in 2014.” – Business Insider

The USA is near the top of emissions per capita.

If you take the time to read (Framework Convention on Climate Change) FCCC/CP/2015/L.9/Rev.1  document, better known as “The Paris Agreement”, you wil lfind reference to the “Warsaw International Mechanism” which is another body of individuals that appears to be around to provide some guidance to help make decisions related to climate change.

There is a reference to “$100 billion dollars” “from developed countries to developing countries” that some people seem to think the US is on the hook for. That is false. Here is the statement regarding $100 billion.

“”54. Also decides that, in accordance with Article 9, paragraph 3, of the Agreement, developed countries intend to continue their existing collective mobilization goal through 2025 in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation; prior to 2025 the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement shall set a new collective quantified goal from a floor of USD 100 billion per year, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries; “ – Paris Agreement

There is no set plan where that money comes from or how it is counted for. Some of it is in foreign aid, some is hoped to be in private loans. Basically, it is just a hope at the moment and certainly not something the USA is on the hook for.
What we have done is Contribute $1 billion since Dec 2015 (when the treaty was signed by Obama) to the “Green Climate Fund”. This was ⅓ of a pledged $3 billion from Obama. Trump has canceled the rest of that money.

As Trump mentioned later in his speech, the United States has given the Green Climate Fund $1 billion already. President Barack Obama pledged a total of $3 billion to the fund by 2020 as part of a global goal of $10 billion, but Trump promised not to finance it as a candidate and Congress has not made further contributions since the election.” – NBC news

The whole $3 billion represented about $9/person in the USA (over 5 years) and only a very small percent of our $40+ billion in foreign aid each year. (US budget for 2016)

(picture from Washington Post)

Another source of money for the developing countries is the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) which is administered by the GEF (Global Environment Facility unites 183 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. Today the GEF is the largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment. An independently operating financial organization, the GEF provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.- Wikipedia)

So now that we’ve established that the Paris Agreement:

  1. Was not costing the USA anything financially
  2. The Green Climate Fund (separate from the Paris Agreement, was costing the USA very little, $2 billion as part of $40+ billion in foreign aid)
  3. Emissions reductions were self imposed at 17% currently planned and a projection of up to 28% reduction (compared to 2005 levels in the USA) by 2025.
  4. Was definitely abandoned by Donald Trump personally but not by individuals and businesses.

What do we do about that?

Assuming you believe in climate change (rising temperatures) and that it could have negative implications for people related to damaged crops, damaged houses and is already happening now, what can you do about it?

I actually hope Donald Trump abandoning the Paris Agreement is a good thing. I (naively) believe that maybe people will start to take individual actions to offset their own carbon footprint instead of thinking the government will do it.

Here are a few things you can do to offset your own carbon footprint.

  1. Support carbon offset companies/non-profits. Read this great article from Mr. Money Mustache about companies that do that.
  2. Plant trees! (You also don’t have to do that personally). Here is a company (OneTreePlanted) you can pay $1 to plant 1 tree or $100 to plant $100 trees! WOW. (I am not sure how effective they are at this yet. They seem pretty new, but maybe they’ll contact me after this mention, or maybe I’ll contact to them to get more information about their work.)
  3. Buy a more efficient vehicle!

The people of the USA need to get over the idea that what the President of the USA does has much direct impact on their lives.

While the President can certainly create policies which affect your life one way or another a few thousand dollars, the fact is that what the government is doing is really not that intrusive on your life, especially not related to how you personally pollute! Not in the USA. What people need to realize is that  people have power. We can choose to influence how businesses create products and we can vote for people who will represent our beliefs. If we choose to specify to pay a little more for renewable energy, companies will create it. You can do that for many electric companies.

You can do the same with businesses. You can “vote” with your dollar, instead of just your political vote. Vote every day.

Many business CEO’s and city Mayors in the USA have pledged to keep their businesses and companies to the Paris Agreement. That is laudable and it is really what they should do also. Why should a company start polluting more just because Donald Trump says he is going to? Many companies are already on the energy efficient path (which is inherently green anyway) due to cost savings. So that should not really be an issue. It is unfortunate that the global warming thing has been “sold” to people as “saving the earth”. Most people I know don’t care that much about it. But if it was sold as “saving you money” people would be all over it. Being more efficient is saving you money AND saving the earth at the same time. Let’s try to focus on that, individually, and collectively. Hopefully other countries, companies and individuals continue on that path, largely ignoring what Donald Trump says. As I have said, he really has little power in the arena of what most people and businesses do personally. I suspect that history will look back on him poorly for this action.

I really don’t know what Trump is thinking overall. He is certainly connecting with people who have a certain mindset, that the USA is somehow getting “screwed” by the whole world. I just do not see that. Would you feel “screwed” if you were helping a family member through a tough time? The whole world is our family, and it’s the only one we have and some of them are going through pretty tough times. We should be ashamed that a large percentage are starving while some are living in luxury. Some of the starvation is related to the damage we’ve done to the environment with our many years of technological advancement and our gluttonous use of fossil fuels for energy and transportation. Some is related to corrupt governments (which is something I’m thinking about also and I acknowledge it’s a BIG issue, but not the topic of the day, yet).  Once we all get on a path to being more efficient we will be doing everyone else a great service as well as future generations.

Make America Great Again

It is utterly clear to me that the highest priority  need of world society at the present moment is a realistic economic accounting system which will rectify, for instance, such nonsense as the fact that a top toolmaker in India, the highest paid of all craftsman, gets only as much per month for his work in India as he could earn per day for the same work if he were employed in Detroit, Michigan.  – Page 112 Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth –  Buckminster Fuller

The problem with the phrase “Make America Great Again”, the campaign slogan being used by Donald Trump, is the fact that it supposes America is not currently great. In order to determine how something is you need to compare it to something. I wonder what Trump is comparing the USA to? What was greater about the USA in the past  than what we have going on right now? When was the last time Trump thinks America was great? What exactly does he think he will do to make it better than it is now? For who?

It is certainly difficult to determine exactly what Donald Trump’s plans are for if he became President. I have heard things from “Build a wall with Mexico” to “Make Ford bring jobs back to the USA from Mexico” and maybe other places (China)?

If America is so terrible why are so many immigrants willing to come here? It must be better than where they are coming from? Why do they think it’s better here? Most people don’t have very crazy aspirations. They want to live their lives. Provide for their families and maybe have a little extra for a rainy day or to have a little fun. If people think they will be able to achieve that better here than wherever they are coming from that seems to tell me it’s pretty great here.

If Trumps goal is to keep Mexicans in Mexico his goal should be to make Mexico a place people want to be. How do you make somewhere a place that people want to be? Make it safe. Make it stable. What is more stable than having a stable job? If Trump wants more Mexican’s to stay in Mexico he should be thinking about how he can get more jobs in Mexico, not less.

I don’t think Trump actually cares about Mexico or Mexicans. He cares about getting elected. To do that he is more than willing to play the fear card in the meantime and unfortunately many people respond to fear readily. These days people seem very afraid, of what I’m not sure. We, at least in the USA, have access to the best food, health care, military and technology of any group of people in history ever. If there is one group in the whole world who shouldn’t be afraid it’s Americans. So why are we afraid?

I think we are afraid because we are bored. We don’t seem to have much else to do. Life must be to easy. We don’t have to work that hard to make food or shelter for ourselves each day. We can go down the street and buy food. We are interested in entertaining ourselves, in eating ourselves to gluttonous sizes, but not in keeping ourselves healthy, not in striving to do great things. We should be afraid of never trying but instead we are afraid of failure.

I strongly believe in the fact that whatever we focus on can become a reality. If we spend all our time reading about terrorism, various viruses, ebola, zitka, asian bird flu, West Nile virus, SARS, Swine Flu (how many of those do you remember from the last 10 years that were going to “end the world”, GMO food, Trans-fats, drugs, alcohol,, Super-Predators, homosexuals, transexuals, metrosexuals (some people are probably scared of people who dress nice), Obama, Trump, Hillary, Bernie. Of all these things that people are afraid of how many actually caused real issues in most people’s lives? I would bet not many. Unfortunately most opinions are just that, opinions, not based on any facts. I will continue to advocate people looking more at the facts, and then relooking at them to see if you have the real facts before raising any alarm.

What I propose we all do is take a step back and read some positive literature. Two books I recommend are “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth” by Buckminster Fuller and “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think” by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler. The point is, the world is not actually going to hell, despite what your personally taylored news media is telling you. I also recommend that people start following a news site that specifically is saying things they are opposed to. Here is a short list of Facebook pages I follow (I get most of my news from places via Facebook)

Matt Walsh
The Friendly Atheist
Ken Hamm
Neil Degrasse Tyson
Lizzy The Lezzie (she’s a lesbian if you didn’t pick that up)
New York Times
National Public Radio (NPR)
Nation of Islam
Jehovah’s Witnesses

HuffPost Good News
Jim Palmer
CCTV ((China Central Television) is constantly updated with top news from China and around the world.
Secret Entourage
David Ramsey
TED (TED talks, their website sucks, just watch it on YouTube)
Tim Ferriss
Zoltan Istvan – (Transhumanist (not transgender) advocate)
Nikola Danaylov
Col. Chris Hadfield (Canadian astronaut)

If you can tell I like to get a diverse perspective on things. It’s pretty interesting to see any news story develop from the perspective of the different sides. Usually one is sharing how great it is while the other is proclaiming the end of the world. I don’t get caught up in the fear either side is professing and neither should you.

America is great. The people are what make a place what it is. America is great because of it’s people and we will continue to be great regardless of, or perhaps in spite of, who is elected. But we shouldn’t get too full of ourselves. Most of the rest of the world is great also and it’s because, in general, people are great. If you don’t know someone or some type of people, consider getting to know them instead of being afraid of them. You just might find you have more in common than you thought.

Presidential Candidates 02016

Various people have recently asked me about how I feel about the Presidential candidates lately. I wanted to share a what little insight I have on the matter.

The question is usually raised like this “What do you think of XX?” The person is always asking about a candidate that you know they have a low opinion of. Because I like to discuss I nearly always bring up positives about that candidate. Few people have no good qualities.

Another thing I like to remind them is that the President is not the supreme ruler of the USA. We all learn about the three branches of government in school and promptly forgot about them but the short version is, the President is not a king. His word is not ultimate rule.

The third thing I like to do is remind people that the President’s term is limited to 4 years after which time we can vote in a new president and if he (or she) actually does something illegal they can be removed from office. It seems the trend lately has been presidents nearly automatically being elected to a 2nd term. That is not surprising to me. People are averse to change so it seems likely we might have the next person for 8 years, but not for certain.

Great video about Donald Trump and Ted Cruz’s tax plans

Great video about Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sander’s tax plans.

Those things being said I will make a few comments about the various candidates.

Donald Trump

A lot of people seem actually afraid of Donald Trump. That seems silly. If you actually go over to Scott Adam’s blog (cartoonist who writes Dilbert) you will get a lot of great analysis of what he believes Donald Trump’s tactics are. Summary: People vote (and generally act) on emotion. Donald Trump is (probably) a pretty smart guy. So smart that he is able to connect with (a lot) dummies (and maybe even some smart people). He is proposing getting rid of illegal immigrants, not something that should particularly worry you as a legal citizen (although you might have some moral aversion to kicking people out, I doubt you are taking as much action as you could to help those people so maybe think twice about your stance? Do a little more?).

The dumb about Trump. He (at least acts like he) is mad that companies (Ford most recently) are deporting jobs. That is stupid. In a capitalist economy (which he surely is a fan of), companies are free to give their business to the lowest bidder. It’s a bit ironic that people who do this every day (by shopping at Wal-Mart for cheap Chinese goods) then complain about “them” “shipping our jobs overseas.

It is utterly clear to me that the highest priority need of world society at the present moment is a realistic economic accounting system which will rectify, for instance, such nonsense as the fact that a top toolmaker in India, the highest paid of all craftsman, gets only as much per month for his work in India as he could earn per day for the same work if he were employed in Detroit, Michigan.  – Page 112 Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth, Buckminster Fuller

Overall I am not scared of Trump.

After I wrote about the other people’s positions I figured I should include Trumps here. I think he has to be joking about the wall don’t you?

Bernie Sanders

“My question to Bernie Sanders supporters: When someone in Bangladesh observes your lifestyle, it seems as incredible to them as that of the 1% seems to you. Why are they not entitled to help themselves to your things, the way you consider yourself morally entitled to help yourself to the goods of the American rich? In your answer, avoid moral irrelevancies like national borders; can we tolerate inequality just because it’s cross-border? Extra credit: Take a picture of yourself divesting yourself of most of your goods in the name of global equality.” – Tom Woods

See same quote above about equal pay for someone in India doing the same job as someone in the US.

To other Bernie issues, I honestly couldn’t think of them, or much about what Hillary (or other candidates) really were “for” either. Here’s what Bernie is “for”. Overall these don’t seem like bad things.
One thing people should also know about goals (and you would learn about if you read “Thinking Fast And Slow” is the idea of an anchor point. All candidates come out as extreme as they can and still be taken seriously. They will almost always have some extra built into their plan they are willing to concede. That’s the name of the game. Sanders wants to raise our taxes, ok. If he is elected, he probably won’t raise them as much as he is hoping (Congress & Senate remember?).

Hillary Clinton
As I work down the list it goes by how much I have heard people talk about candidates and how much I knew about them (before I started writing this). Hillary I knew very little about, and you probably don’t really know much either. You might think you do but do you really? Anyway, here’s what she’s “for”. The thing I hear people talk about most is Hillary “taking our guns”. That’s what people are afraid of. If you recall Obama was “taking our guns” for the last 8 years. You can still go to Wal-mart and buy a gun. I don’t think she’s taking our guns. What else is she for? Just reading through the list, again they seem like fine things. In fact that’s what a Presidential candidate is supposed to do, tell you the good they will do. As I mentioned before, things move slowly even after a President is elected.

Ted Cruz
Is he still in the race? Honestly knew very little when I started writing this. Now, I know just a tiny bit. His main issue? I couldn’t even guess. Being an alternate to Donald Trump?

Now that we are past the real candidates I wanted to share a few things I stumbled upon while doing political party research

The Prohibition Party is apparently still (semi) active. From their site “The alcohol issue sets this unique party apart from all others. This party has opposed the manufacture, distribution, and sale of alcoholic beverages since 1869. Alcohol is America’s #1 narcotic drug problem. The use of alcohol and tobacco is responsible for 40% of the total cost of healthcare in America. We believe a program of education and legislation, coupled with sober leadership, will result in a change in society’s attitude regarding the alcohol issue. Tobacco is known as the “gateway drug,” meaning that early use of tobacco leads a person into the use of stronger drugs.”

Zoltan Istvan – Transhumanist Party

Zoltan founded the Transhumanist party. This is not to be confused with transgender (changing genders). Transhuman is actually in reference to “transcending” our humanity, via science.

Just a few of his policies

12) Because most jobs will be lost to robots and software in the next 30 years, support and draft logistics for a Universal Basic Income for every American (taking care to devise a plan that does not enlarge the government). A properly set up UBI could eliminate welfare, social security, and dozens of other major government programs.

16) Work to use science and technology to be able to eliminate all disabilities in humans who have them

The final point I want to make is that whichever candidate or party we are voting for we should take some time to try to understand what the other side is talking about. What you might find though is that really they are just people also. They have opinions that you might disagree with but you shouldn’t be afraid, of anyone. Because if you are afraid, the terrorists win. I hope to discuss fear further in upcoming articles as it is something that seems to be pervasive in our country (and the world).

Do not live in fear.