Which president has done the most to fight global warming?

A 5th grader here in Massachusetts relayed some information learned from a (unionized government-paid) teacher: Donald Trump is the worst president when it comes to accelerating global warming.

If we do want to worship presidents as modern-day gods on Earth, which president can be considered to have done the most to fight CO2 emissions and global warming?

How about Jimmy Carter? By presiding over a period of recession, he slowed down economic activity in the U.S. and therefore emissions.

Or Richard Nixon, whose “guns and butter” policies generated the inflation that led to the inflation and recession for which Jimmy Carter got blamed. Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency, whose regulations have led to reduced emissions compared to the 1960s.

Barack Obama? He raised taxes and thereby slowed the economy.

(Separately, is it fair to say that Donald Trump has accelerated global warming? He has been trying to cut back on immigration from poor countries with low per-capita CO2 emissions. Every time someone from a poor country arrives in the U.S., worldwide CO2 emissions should go up. Wikipedia shows that U.S. emissions are roughly 17 tons per person. In Honduras, on the other hand, emissions are only 1 ton per person. Thus, if Donald Trump were to be successful in reducing migration from Honduras to the U.S., CO2 emissions would also be reduced.)

4 thoughts on “Which president has done the most to fight global warming?

  1. Since comments are closed on your Minsky article, I thought I’d share this post by danah boyd here:

    Specifically: “I was at the MIT Media Lab from 1999 to 2002. At the incoming student orientation dinner, an older faculty member sat down next to me. He looked at me and asked if love existed. I raised my eyebrow as he talked about how love was a mirage, but that sex and pleasure were real. That was my introduction to Marvin Minsky and to my new institutional home.”

    • This is spectacularly off topic, indeed. However, since folks are intent on trashing this deceased guy, let me look at this.

      The aggrieved author “The first blog post I ever wrote was about my own sexual assault. It was 1997…” Then she describes having spent the next two decades “helping build online networks of feminists who were trying to help combat sexual assault and a culture of abuse” and similar. Where most people see nerds, she saw sex: “When I first visited Facebook in Palo Alto, I was greeted by a hyper-sexualized mural and a knowing look from the admin, one of the only women around. So many small moments seared into my brain, building up to a story of normalized misogyny.” She describes “the nagging feeling that you’re going crazy as you try to get through each day.”

      Let’s say we accept as true that she met Marvin Minsky. Now we are expected to believe that, of the two of them, it was Marvin who brought up the topic of sex?

  2. The actual statistics of carbon emissions in tons, tons per capita, tons per real dollar GDP do not support any of those claims. They best support the claim that presidents don’t matter. They also show substantial improvement in most metrics.

    The emissions in tons per millions real dollar GDP were: 1950 – 1,040; 1970 – 861; 1990 – 538; 2000 – 446; 2010 – 358; and 2018 – 284. (Source: DOE August 2019 Monthly Energy Review).

    Emissions per Capita peaked at 20.8 in 2000. It is 16.1 for 2018. It was 16.2 in 1955. So we are now back to 50’s level per capita.

    Megatons total emissions peaked at 6,001 in 2007. The 2018 level is 5,271 megatons. This is back to mid 1990’s level.

    The proper policy is to use engineering and accounting principles. To state the problem:
    1.) CO2 emissions increase risk
    2.) Funding is finite
    and we want to maximize emissions reduction per dollar cost.

    Therefore, projects and policies should be analyzed by assessing for each project:
    – What will be the reduction in emissions from this project (that’s properly an engineering and accounting question)
    – What will the project cost, including all subsidies, credits, etc. (that’s also an engineering and accounting question)

    Rank the projects and policies by tons per dollar, and start in order of tons/dollar. Evaluate and perform projects in that order until you reach the budget limit. Only the budget limit is affected by the risk relationship with total CO2 emissions. Everything else can be engineering and accounting.

    Current eco-freaks really hate this engineering and accounting method. It gives the wrong answers from their point of view. It’s increasingly being used by both the private sector and the regulators because engineering and accounting are delivering results.

  3. Trump could halt warming in the USA simply by order NOAA to exclude temperature data from the 90% of measuring stations located near urban heat sources. In 2005, recognizing temperature data was being contaminated by improper siting (eg: in cities, near air conditioners, near asphalt), NOAA set up the “US Climate Reference Network” of 114 sensors pristinely sited + regularly calibrated temperature sensors. The good news is now that there is 14 years of data (enough to be statistically significant), the network shows there is no warming in the US, there is actually a slight cooling trend!


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