A Free-Market Energy Blog

Trump on Climate in 2009 (crony aside now corrected)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- June 13, 2016

“We support your effort to ensure meaningful and effective measures to control climate change, an immediate challenge facing the United States and the world today. Please don’t postpone the earth. If we fail to act now, it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet.”

– Donald Trump, signatory letter/advertisement in the New York Times, December 6, 2009.

“A Trump Administration will focus on real environmental challenges, not phony ones …. We’ll solve real environmental problems in our communities like the need for clean and safe drinking water.”

– Donald Trump, “An America First Energy Plan.” May 26, 2016.

Consider it corrected.

It does not take a climate scientist to understand the intellectual weaknesses of climate alarm. And it does not take a political scientist or political economist to see the problems of any one-world solution, much less a domestic one, to this alleged international problem.

And evidently, the presidential nominee has done enough homework. Trump sees how the common person, in the form of higher taxes and higher energy prices, pays for the whole Climate agenda with de minimis climate payback.

How to interpret old Donald Trump back then? Having studied business-environmental strategy from the inside (first hand at Enron, where not only Ken Lay but Jim Rogers, later of Duke Energy, worked), I offer the following thoughts.

1) I see this sign-on as politically correct–and ‘crony-cash’ for an international real-estate developer trying to take the issue off the table for his/her company. ‘See, I support in general …’

This said, ceding the moral high ground can lead to a lot of trouble when the other side opposes what you do for a living because it is not climate neutral. Duke Energy’s Rogers embraced climate alarmism/activism only to find protestors at his home because he was not doing enough for the issue he raised. When it comes to climate, after all, just about everything you naturally do is not enough (part of the mass ‘market failure’), so more must be done after you have done whatever you did.

2) The science and politics of the climate issue after nearly eight years of Obama is different today than back then. On science, sensitivity estimates have come down to a range where CO2 can be a positive, not negative, externality. With politics, look around the US and the world to see what is law or proposed law on the basis of climate change. Politics is never pretty. There is government failure in the quest to address alleged market failure.

Yes, a bull session can debate how a carbon tax is better than what exists in an either-or, perfect knowledge, Environmental Pope world. But that is not reality. The real debate is about climate regulation in the first place. Greater speed to the wrong destination, as Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has noted, is hardly a virtue.

I bet Trump has studied and knows more about the issue today than back then (and maybe not by much). And he believes that he has something to sell. He does; the math does not work when you look closely at costs and benefits from US action, now or a decade from now.


The great majority of libertarians and conservatives understand that climate change is the ‘central organizing principle’ of one-world-government–the new central planning. From Climategate to RICO, the quest for carbon control is grotesque. Libertarians and conservatives also see how advocating a better, or least worst, program for government in this area cedes the moral high ground and turns the issue from markets to open-ended politics.

“I will not support a carbon tax!” Donald Trump tweeted on May 13th. “We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs,” he stated two weeks later.
This is very good news for presidential politics. Climate alarmism and forced energy transformation needs to thorough debate at the highest political levels. US voters will get that this Fall.


  1. More on Energy/Climate from Trump - Master Resource  

    […] Trump on Climate in 2009 (crony aside now corrected) (June 13, 2016) […]


  2. A Wedt  

    I didn’t mean to insult you. Please share with me your data that proves we don’t need to heed climate change as a national security threat. Pretend you’re getting a school assignment: How could the release of carbon and methane into the atmosphere cause the sea level to rise? If the sea rises, what happens to coastal towns and cities? What happens to my grandchildren? Ready? Go!


    • rbradley  

      The climate debate in its science, economics, and policy dimensions has been presented in more than one hundred posts at this site. Please type in your term and MasterResource to find out more. Maybe the entries for ‘Hansen, James” at this site will be a good start.

      I cannot respond to you after this, but regarding sea level rise, the prediction is for inches, not feet as Al Gore predicted. Very small and pretty much irreversible….

      Call sea level a ‘cost’, a negative externality… You ‘win’ with that one….

      Now, what about the benefits of moderately warmer, moderately wetter, and CO2 fertilization. The positive externalities.

      And what about the costs of government intervention and ‘government failure’ in the quest to address ‘market failure’? The problem of trying to substitute dilute, intermittent energies for dense fossil fuels?

      Best wishes


      • A Wedt  

        Dear Mr. Bradley,

        I do appreciate your reply. I’m aware that James Henson said, for example, that it would be “game over” for the environment if we opened Keystone XL. Any so-called benefits of a wetter “more fertilized” world (which is “pre-historic”: when the world was like that it wasn’t habitable for humans) will be far outweighed by the damage of having above 400 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere (to survive it can’t be above 350 ppm and we’ve far exceeded that). If Al Gore was never born, it doesn’t change basic physics: the law of conservation of mass. Did you know that the Arctic permafrost is melting at an alarming rate? As that happens even more carbon and methane in the ground will be released, of which there is more than what was put into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution, in turn accelerating climate change (more drought and flood, more severe storms resulting in injury, physical and financial damage, and death)?

        Due to drilling in the Gulf, we lose a football field-sized patch of wetlands a day. Didn’t God/Mother Nature put that there for a reason (perhaps as a natural barrier)? (It’s also quite remarkable that a Brit coined the term “acid rain” before the turn of the 20th century.)

        Did you know that due to fossil fuel extraction and other development that 1/2 of the wildlife has disappeared since 1974? Now we’re going on 2/3. Do we need to make it 3? Or lose all the bees along with the frogs? I’m not being a hippie here; we need biodiversity to survive. That’s how the Irish starved, after all.

        So please tell me how we couldn’t become energy independent, make the economy boom, and roll out the renewable energies simultaneously? If we can make an iPhone scratch your behind from across the world, we can roll out the solar modules. And if we band together WWII-style, imagine what we could accomplish! But the enemy isn’t human; it’s not even extra-terrestrial. It’s the White Walkers (if you are aware of Game of Thrones). Climate change will not care about your station in life or anything about you, but it’s coming for you.

        Please at least ponder this idea. Imagine the boom the economy would experience! Let’s use innovators like Elon Musk for some actual good. The old coal miners would get to retire and the young ones would be retrained to work in solar, wind, geothermal, oceanic, or any other conceivable renewable source. Since when have we become the Can’t Do nation? I don’t even have kids so why am I the one pleading with the ones who have? You’ve heard of the idea of seven generations out, right? Current climate projections show that by 2050 it will be too hot anywhere on the planet to hold the Olympics…except for San Francisco, CA, and Vancouver, British Columbia. What will that world look like? The Pentagon reports that climate change is the number one security threat. Per Maslow’s Pyramid, people need basics to survive. What do you think will happen to us when more and more desperate and displaced people are looking for food and shelter?

        We can do it together; we don’t even need the government. We just have to get past trifles like what color you paint your walls. That doesn’t matter…when the drywall is rotting.

        I don’t mean to pick on you but was disheartened to read that you were SUPPORTING Trump’s ignorant change of position since 2009. Even someone he was close with (if not he himself) noted that climate-induced erosion was costing his resort in Scotland some major finances. And despite constant flooding in Miami, they are still erecting billion-dollar condos. That’s like continuing to smoke when you’ve already lost a lung.

        Thank you again for engaging in this discussion and I beg of you, from one human being on this earth to another, to at least dig in a little further.


        A. Wedt

        You appear to be a man of influence and intellect so I’m calling on you to help bridge the gap between this ugly fissure in America…help us open the discussion. Pretend we’re literally in the same boat…and have to get to land safely in one piece.


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