Since President Trump’s announcement yesterday that the U.S. would be withdrawing from the Paris climate deal, a variety of local groups, ranging from the Coastal Conservation League to the Post and Courier, have warned of the dire ramifications of the president’s decision.
In a statement, the Coastal Conservation League warned of “frequent flooding,” “droughts” and “hotter summers,” and a Post and Courier editorial noted a “multibillion-dollar infrastructure challenge for the Charleston area” due to climate change.
But will the president’s decision truly have a drastic impact on the Lowcountry?
"No way," said Dr. Jay Lehr, the science director at The Heartland Institute, a 33-year-old national nonprofit research and education organization.
“Withdrawing from the Paris deal is the best thing the president has done,” Lehr told Palmetto Business Daily. “The Paris deal has nothing to do with climate change or science. It had everything to do with sucking our country dry.”
Lehr, who was the nation’s first recipient of a Ph.D. in Groundwater Hydrology and is the former executive director of the National Association of Groundwater Scientists and Engineers, said the requirements placed on the U.S. by the deal were “draconian.”
“It was going to crush our oil and gas industry, and eliminate our coal industry,” said Lehr. “I’ve seen estimates that say it was going to cost 6.5 million jobs and cost us $3 trillion. We were going to have to pay hundreds of billions of dollars into the Climate Action Fund, and it would’ve placed limits on new energy technologies.”
Lehr added, “I’ve been at this for 45 years, and the impact of this deal was sheer insanity.”
In its editorial published the morning of President Trump’s decision, the Post and Courier noted that the “Paris climate agreement doesn’t change much,” but as “symbolism, it ranks among the more significant international accords ever reached.”
Lehr, however, says groups like the Post and Courier, who think we should have stayed with the Paris deal to “go along with the flow” and “keep a seat at the table” have “obviously never read the accord.”
He also said the 197 countries that signed the treaty “are for it because they know they’ll make money out of it. They’ll milk the United States dry.”
Lehr said those advocating government action on climate change are not basing their views on science.
“It’s a fraud. It’s a hoax,” said Lehr. “The sea is not rising, man has no impact on global temperatures, and those who engage in fear mongering are trying to make money by scaring you.”
Lehr pointed to testimony he gave before the Washington State Senate in January 2014, in which he said that, “While temperatures have fluctuated over the past 5000 years, today’s earth temperature is below the average for these past 5000 years.”
“Temperature fluctuations during the current 300 year recovery from the Little Ice Age, which ended around the time Washington’s soldiers were freezing at Valley Forge, correlate almost perfectly with our sun’s changes in activity level,” added Lehr. “We know that 200 million years ago when the dinosaurs walked the Earth, average Carbon Dioxide concentration in the atmosphere was 1800 parts per million, more than four times higher than today.”
Still, those such as Eddy Moore, Energy and Climate Director at the Coastal Conservation League, warn that “our changing climate calls for action at all levels of government.”
“Actively addressing climate change will ensure that South Carolinians can enjoy the same quality of life in the future that we enjoy today,” said Moore in a statement released after Trump’s decision. “We are counting on local leadership and action to fill in the gaps where this administration is shirking responsibility.”
Lehr he said that it will take “maybe a year” for everyone to actually review all the requirements of the Paris accord and realize that “it wasn’t a good idea to go with the flow, when that flow was so draconian for the United States.”
As for South Carolina’s two U.S. Senators, Tim Scott recently signed a letter urging the president to make “a clean exit” from the Paris deal, and Lindsey Graham tweeted that he supports “President Trump’s desire to re-enter the Paris Accord after the agreement becomes a better deal for America and business.”