Stephen Hawking turned seventy five this year, and as you probably know he has ALS. His mind and tongue, or at least his text-to-speech program, remain as sharp as ever, and Hawking had some strong words regarding President Donald Trump during an interview with BBC.
Out of all of Trump’s recent controversies, one that draws great attention is his decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, also known as the Paris Climate Accord and the Paris Climate Agreement. The agreement is designed to help countries reduce CO2 pollution to minimize the effects of climate change. Hawking believes that Trump’s outright disdain for the agreement could result in the Earth becoming inhospitable.
“We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible,” explained Hawking. “Trump’s action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of two hundred and fifty degrees, and raining sulphuric acid.”
While I cannot claim that Trump understands how climate science works (he thinks that eight inches of concrete prevent chrlorofleurocarbons from escaping into the atmosphere and eating away at the ozone), I will argue that Hawking’s dire prediction probably won’t come true, primarily because, according to Scientific American and The New York Times, Trump legally cannot withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement for four years. Trump can give one year’s notice to back out in three years, but his withdrawal won’t take effect until one day after the 2020 elections have concluded. If Trump is elected again, then his plan can proceed unhindered, but if he isn’t, the next president could easily (and probably) will bring the U.S. back into the Accord. Furthermore, if Trump tries to back out before the allotted period or tries to prevent the U.S. from fulfilling its promises to the Paris Climate Agreement, he will have violated international law. Basically, Hawking shouldn’t worry about Trump destroying the world, because the President’s hands are tied, at least until 2020, and Trump’s steadily decreasing approval rating makes his reelection seem like a pipe dream.
While I would not doubt that Trump could potentially damage the environment, the wording of the Paris Agreement makes Hawking’s prediction seem no more reliable than a “The End Is Nigh!” doomsayer sign.