Last week, President Donald Trump announced that the United States would exit the Paris climate agreement, but misused information from a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study to defend the decision. The Paris climate agreement is a union between 195 countries to curb the effects of global warming. While President Barack Obama’s decision to join the agreement was mostly praised in 2016, many members of conservative lawmakers criticized the deal saying it would cost the country too much money.
After announcing that the United States would not continue to be part of the agreement unless it could be renegotiated, President Trump used MIT research to defend his decision. However, the authors of the MIT study say there was a “complete misunderstanding” of the information. The study, titled “How much of a difference will the Paris Agreement make?”, found that during a 5 to 10 year time span, global warming would slow between 0.6 degree and 1.1 degrees Celsius by 2100.
“Even if the Paris agreement were implemented in full,” Trump said Thursday, “with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a 2/10’s of one degree Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100.” He called this a “tiny, tiny amount.”
However, the scientist at MIT say this tiny, tiny amount would make a huge difference. John Reilly, a co-director with this MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, says the President’s remarks show a clear misunderstanding the content. “If we don’t do anything, we might shoot over 5 degrees or more and that would be catastrophic.” Reilly also says he was not contacted by the White House about citing the study, and has not been contacted since.
What can the presenter learn from this? The importance of understanding your presentation content. If not, it could cause damage on both sides. While the MIT research does show small numbers for the amount of change that the Paris agreement would bring, its authors stress the importance of that small change. Without consulting the authors about their research, the President brought damage upon his credibility. This can cause harm on both ends; the research presented has now been misinterpreted by everyone who listened to the address; and the speaker is now being criticized for not understanding the research.
If you are trying to build an argument for or against something, it’s best to receive a blessing from the authors of your presentation content that you would like to source. You may discover that the content does not actually hold up as a strong defense. You definitely don’t want to insult or offend anyone during your presentation. The backlash received afterwards could tarnish your reputation and burn bridges. By taking some extra time to further expand your research for your presentation content, you are saving yourself a lot of trouble in the long run.
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