Once Upon A Time, There Was A President That Didn’t Believe In Climate Change
The journey so far of Trump’s denial of global warming (and the story you’ll be telling your grandchildren one day)
Photo by Twitter
Although climate scientists have repeatedly shown that global surface temperatures have increased in the last decades and that human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases are to blame, US president Donald Trump has always made it quite clear that he does not believe global warming is human-related.
As the year comes to an end, we thought to summarize the President’s on-and-off teenage relationship with climate change (so far).
Once upon a time, long before declaring his interest to run for the White House, Donald Trump has on numerous occasions issued statements affirming beliefs that man-made global warming is not real. In 2012, he went as far as claiming that “climate change was a hoax invented by the Chinese to make the US manufacturing less competitive”.
He later said that it was a joke.
In a tweet in 2013, he called global warming an “expensive hoax” that should not be focused on. He went further to rubbish climate change efforts made by his predecessor Barack Obama.
At one point when former US president Obama described climate change as a big threat to the United States and the world, Trump said that it was “one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard in politics.”
Interestingly in 2009, he was part of a business coalition urging President Obama to take urgent climate action.
While being interviewed by the New York Times after winning the presidential elections, he agreed that “there is some connectivity” between human activity and climate change.
In a recent interview with CBS program 60 Minutes, Trump seemed to have slightly changed his opinion when he declared that he no longer believes that climate change is a hoax, but thinks that the climate could “change back again” and that climate scientists are politically motivated.
His statement came barely a week after Hurricane Michael destroyed parts of Florida causing at least 60 fatalities and $14.58 billion in damages. The storm was the strongest to ever been recorded in that region.
During his presidential campaign in 2016, Trump swore to withdraw the US from the Paris Pact, saying that a withdrawal would be beneficial to the US workers and businesses. He also promised to revive the coal industry which he claimed was hampered by environmental policies.
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In June 2017, he announced that he would withdraw the United States from the United Nations 2015 Paris Climate Agreement which aims to reduce global warming to 1.5ºC by 2030. He stated that the “Paris Accord will undermine the US economy”. This decision would leave the United States as the only country in the world that had not signed the agreement.
A recent report by a group of international researchers to the United Nations shows that even the slightest increase in global temperature could brutally affect our planet, leading to hotter days all year round, severe damage to the world’s corals, increased drought and wildfires, and even more dangerous flooding and storms.
Trump claimed to have “a natural instinct for science” during an interview with the Associate Press.
When he was asked about researchers’ warning about climate change almost becoming irreversible, Trump said that there are “scientists on both sides of the issue.”
In September 2017, one of the most violent storms hit the island of Puerto Rico, leaving a death toll of up to 3000 people in its wake. While a lot of people survived the hell of the storm, they were forced to live through the hell of the aftermath.
There were acute food and water shortages throughout the island, power was practically wiped out, and hospitals were closed due to the extensive damages which ultimately led to the rise in the death toll.
But as expected, President Donald Trump disputed the findings that so many people had in fact died in that storm.
The Trump Administration’s Climate Change Policies
As soon as he took office, Trump embarked on a mission to undo most of the environmental and climate safeguards that had been put in place by his predecessor president Barack Obama.
While Obama’s environmental agenda sought to reduce carbon emissions by using clean renewable energy, the Trump Administration is determined to increase the use of fossil fuel and remove environmental regulations which he usually refers to as an impediment to business.
To further this agenda, Trump decided to nominate Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, to be the permanent head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
He would serve as the interim agency chief after the resignation of Scott Pruitt over allegations of financial and ethical improprieties. Wheeler’s background is as deeply connected to the energy industry deregulation as Pruitt.
But the story doesn’t end here.
Here’s some more controversial climate change actions that have been put in place by the Trump Administration:
In 2017 just a few days after taking office, Trump had already signed executive orders approving two contentious oil pipelines and had also asked for a federal review of the Clean Power Plan and Clean Water Rule. He also announced his plans to give more federal land for energy development and called for more drilling in national parks. His Department of the Interior had even gone further to announce plans to allow drilling in almost all U.S. waters.
In August 2018, the Trump administration launched their plans to freeze the Obama-era antipollution and fuel-efficiency standard for cars. This considerably weakens one of President Barack Obama’s major policies to combat global warming. The new rules in this proposal would also deny states like California the right to set their own pollution standards.
In September 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposal for relaxing the requirements placed on energy companies on how they monitor and fix methane leaks during the Obama-era.
The EPA also wants to roll back on the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which aimed to cut down the carbon emission that the country produces by a third by the year 2030. In their proposal, the EPA recommended Affordable Clean Energy Rule which would delegate back coal-fired power plants regulations to the state levels. This will only work to benefit the coal industry and increase carbon emissions.
Even more recently, upon the release of the nation’s National Climate Assessment, forecasting a dire future for America if timely action is not taken, Trump ever so conveniently claimed that he doesn’t believe it.
Scour the internet anywhere, and almost each time, you’ll find quirky images like these:
But the climate is still at risk either way. Whether we “believe” it or not.
And sadly, this is only the journey so far. And as long as Trump holds the reigns of America, and given the rate at which we’re going at, it’s not surprising that the future of not only America, but also the world, is in fact, dire.
It’s time to stop debating the reality of climate change and take action instead. With Trump or without.