The biggest problem with President Donald Trump’s foolish decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement is not that it rejects an international accord signed by 195 countries, although that is troublesome.
The biggest problem is that, at its core, his decision rejects our very future.
Technological innovation has been the mainstay of the U.S. economy since the nation was founded. Necessity has, as they say, been the mother of invention for generation upon generation.
As a country — and as a planet — we now face a global necessity that increasingly borders on an outright crisis: We must address climate change, otherwise known as global warming, or else.
Global warming melts land-based ice in Greenland and the Antarctic at an abnormally rapid rate, causing our oceans and seas to rise. Eventually, whole shoreline communities could be underwater, according to the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change.
That would be really bad for Long Island — it being an island that juts 118 miles into the Atlantic Ocean.
We have fledgling energy technologies — wind, solar, geothermal and tidal — to combat global warming. Instead of embracing the future of energy production, however, Trump has taken us back 100 years, favoring antiquated, highly polluting technologies such as coal (his favorite), oil and natural gas instead.
Forgive the bluntness: That’s just stupid.
Long Islanders, in particular, should be outraged by Trump’s climate change policy — or, more precisely, his lack of one. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation:
• Long Island and New York City have experienced at least a foot of sea-level rise since 1900, largely due to the expansion of warming ocean water. (Water actually gets bigger as it heats up.)
• By 2100, scientists project New York could see a foot and a half to four feet of sea-level rise, if the current global-warming pattern continues.
• New York’s coastal marine counties are home to more than half of New York state’s 19 million residents.
Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of New Yorkers who live along the coast could be displaced by the end of the 21st century because of rising ocean waters.
At the same time, stronger hurricanes the likes of which we have not seen could batter our coastal communities. It’s easy to understand why.
Atlantic Ocean hurricanes, interestingly enough, originate in the Sahara Desert — yes, you read right.
The Sahara reaches its hottest in July and August, sending massive, spiraling columns of super-heated air from the ground into the atmosphere, according to www.hurricanescience.org, a website developed by the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography to promote a better understanding of hurricanes. The columns of hot air, known as dirt devils, drift from northwest Africa into the Atlantic, becoming what meteorologists call “African easterly jets,” cyclones that are blown across the ocean by moderate trade winds.
As an easterly jet makes its way across the Atlantic, it kicks up warm sea spray high into the troposphere, the lower level of the atmosphere where weather patterns form. As it reaches the troposphere’s outer boundary, it meets cold air and condenses to form thunderclouds. The jet will continue to suck up sea spray from the ocean like a giant straw until it meets cold water from below, which doesn’t evaporate and is too heavy to be carried into the atmosphere.
The more warm water that a jet can draw from the ocean, the better chance that it will morph from a mere tropical depression into a tropical storm and eventually a full-blown hurricane. The size and strength of a hurricane depend largely on the storm’s ability to draw warm water and energy from the ocean into the atmosphere.
In other words, warmer oceans mean bigger hurricanes. Sandy could become a semi-regular occurrence, rather than the storm of the century, by 2100.
Let’s assume, though, that you believe all of this is chicken-little nonsense concocted by the Chinese to undo our economy — a conspiracy theory that Trump has espoused in the past.
In pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, Trump signaled to the nation and the world that the United States isn’t particularly interested in forward-thinking technologies such as solar and wind, and thus he ceded American technological hegemony to Norway — the world leader in wind innovation — and the Chinese, who are increasingly investing in renewable technologies while phasing out coal production.
As Trump would say: Sad, so sad!