Donald Trump has given America its face-palm moment — yet again!
On Monday, Trump told reporters that he had "read some of" the US government’s Fourth National Climate Assessment report. When asked about the findings of the report, President Trump said, “I don't believe it.”
The Fourth National Climate Assessment draws on inputs from 13 federal agencies — including NASA and the Defense Department — with contributions from 300 scientists.
The latest volume spans over 1600 pages and has clearly spelt out that unchecked global warming would wreak havoc on the US economy. However, President Trump can, after all, choose to “not believe it”.
Belief matters over science, it seems. (Photo: Reuters)
There is a good reason why Donald Trump is in denial.
For starters, the report says that with the present rate of climate change, the US economy could lose more than 10 per cent of its GDP by the end of the century.
If you are as myopic as President Trump, and believe that the end of the century is too long a time to consider, then sample this — annually, it would cost the government upward of USD 500 billion in crop damage, lost labour, and extreme weather damages. To give the numbers perspective, this is almost double the economic blow of the Great Recession in the early 2000s.
“With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century —more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many US states,” according to the report.
Next, the report specifically outlines the potential impacts of global warming across every sector of American society — from an increased risk of disease transmission to decreases in air quality, and an increase in mental health problems, besides the obvious increase in the frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves.
Further, the report predicted an increase in air pollution — rising average temperatures worsen ground-level ozone, which is one of the major pollutants. It can also exacerbate sources of pollution like wildfires. The President’s memory needs to be refreshed — the worst breathing conditions in the world this month was in California because of the wildfire.
But then, he had said at that point that while the fire could be caused due to a “lot of factors”— not just climate change, the President wants “a great climate”
President Trump has long since maintained that climate change is a hoax.
In fact, he constantly displays his high level of intuitiveness, like when he suggested that fears over global warming were unwarranted. He asked how his country could be facing extremely cold weather if global warming was real. But then, it is perfectly normal for anybody to forget the primary school’s General Science lessons that teach us the difference between climate and weather.
Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS - Whatever happened to Global Warming?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2018
One would wish the President had stopped there.
If only wishes were horses.
13 minutes after this tweet, Mr Trump followed it up with another gem that no one with even basic intellect can understand:
You just can’t win with the Fake News Media. A big story today is that because I have pushed so hard and gotten Gasoline Prices so low, more people are driving and I have caused traffic jams throughout our Great Nation. Sorry everyone!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2018
While the media has widely reported on the record numbers of travellers over Thanksgiving, no cases have been reported of blaming the President for traffic congestion.
But there might be one aspect of the report that the President will stand in support of — the part where the report warns of heat being expected to more than offset any lives saved from warmer winters in the US.
After all, last winter, he tweeted:
In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 29, 2017
In a masterstroke of whataboutery, President Trump added: "You're going to have China and Japan and all of Asia and all these other countries, you know, it [the report] addresses our country. Right now we’re at the cleanest we’ve ever been. It’s very important to me. If we’re clean and everyone else is dirty, that’s not so good.”
Again, it is easier to live in denial about how this is going to impact American society if one could place the blame on “all of Asia”.
Captain Clean: If we’re clean and everyone else is dirty, that’s not so good! (Photo: Reuters)
The naysayers, of course, will continue to attack the President for his belief — or the lack of it — in hard scientific facts.
“This demonstrates once again that Donald Trump is not an individual to be taken seriously on any topic, let alone matters as serious as climate change,” Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, told HuffPost. “He is a clown — a dangerous clown.”
Shibley Telhami, professor of politics at Maryland University, and former adviser to the Bush and Obama administrations, tweeted:
Debating complex data about global warming is not in and of itself crazy, although the overwhelming evidence should be clear. But in my over three decades of teaching, I have never had a student dumb enough to make the kind of inference Trump is making in this tweet.— Shibley Telhami (@ShibleyTelhami) November 22, 2018
However, all is not lost, America — if you vote sensibly in 2020.
The report states that there is still time do something to limit global warming and counter its effects.
“Future impacts and risks from climate change are directly tied to decisions made in the present,” the assessment reads. The carbon dioxide emissions have to be curbed aggressively now, thereby limiting the rise in global average temperatures. Shifting to cleaner energy, changing land use patterns, monitoring and pulling carbon dioxide out of the air are some immediate solutions that the report offers.
The question here is the political will of the world’s largest emitter.
And of course, another factor that the 13 federal agencies and 300 scientists who compiled the path-breaking and damning report cannot predict — President Trump’s beliefs.