Is there a silver lining to President Donald Trump's $250 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports?
You bet there is — but first we must acknowledge the inconvenient fact that globalism is inconsistent with environmentalism.
Take carbon dioxide emissions. The foundational principle toward fighting climate change, according to Al Gore and scientific experts worldwide, is to reduce, if not eradicate, man-made CO2 at all costs. A landmark study recently released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that the planet has just 12 years left before catastrophe strikes because of global warming caused by our having too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Climate alarmists warn that if the earth's temperature warms by even 0.5 percent, humans will be subjected to an onslaught of devastating floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters, in addition to poverty afflicting hundreds of millions of people worldwide and other doomsday scenarios.
So why are many globalists who also care about protecting the environment against Trump's tariffs? Yes, higher retail costs are expected to be passed along to consumers, but one benefit that ought to be considered is that the tariffs will create a consumer demand for cheaper products to be made in America, thereby significantly reducing the environmental damage being done every single day by foreign nations, China included, that transport massive loads of consumer goods to North America — burning boatloads of fossil fuels along the way.
It doesn't take a scientific degree to know that if more products were made in America and consumers shopped locally, we'd be protecting the environment by dramatically reducing CO2 emissions generated via long-distance transportation from China to the U.S. — as well as a global dependency on big oil. Add to it that many of China's manufacturing plants use antiquated systems, including high-intensity CO2-emitting coal plants. By contrast, the United States adheres to cleaner manufacturing processes and other supply chain logistics than many of our foreign competitors, which has contributed to an annual reduction in U.S. carbon emissions of approximately 1.2 percent for the past decade. China continues to be the world's biggest polluter.
"The amazing increase in Chinese manufacturing over the past 15 years has driven the world economy to new heights and supplied consumers in developed countries with tremendous quantities of lower-cost goods," said Steven J. Davis, a professor of earth system science at the University of California, Irvine. "But all of this has come at substantial cost to the environment."
Hence, globalists — all in on global trade with China and other nations — can no longer ignore the fact that the U.S. manufactures and delivers goods with a lower environmental footprint than many of our foreign competitors, making the case that protectionism is more compatible with protecting the environment than globalism.
Another benefit to Trump's bold trade agenda is job creation. If America manufactures more goods stateside, we'll not only increase the labor workforce participation rate but also slash pollution across every facet of the supply chain.
So the next time someone says Trump's tariffs will cause consumer prices to spike, ask the person to consider the billions American taxpayers are already shelling out every time there's a hurricane or another natural disaster. Also mention the money we'd save if millions of able-bodied welfare recipients were transitioned off public assistance and onto payrolls, widening the U.S. tax base.
Trump's tariffs could end up yielding short-term consumer pain but long-term gain for both the environment and the overall U.S. economy.
Maybe Trump really is a stable genius after all.
Adriana Cohen is a syndicated columnist with the Boston Herald. Follow her on Twitter @AdrianaCohen16. To find out more about Adriana Cohen and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.