Donald Trump believes in anthropogenic climate change, says his ambassador to the United Nations, three days after the American president withdrew the United States from the Paris climate accord.
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“President Trump believes the climate is changing and he believes pollutants are part of the equation,” UN envoy Nikki Haley told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Saturday. Finally, some clarity, after days of Trump officials embarrassedly wriggling that they have no clue what he thinks.
Before and after
Actually, we knew Trump believes in climate change, despite his unusually consistent insistence that global warming is “fake news.”
Before his Republican makeover, Trump was a climate change believer. In 2009, he co-signed a letter in a full-page New York Times ad from business leaders to his own predecessor, calling on then-President Barack Obama to lead the world in legislation to limit carbon emissions. The three adult Trump children were also signatories.
Yet within months he had done a complete 180 and began conveying the opposite. VOX did the math and counted 115 Trumpian tweets expressing skepticism about climate change.
Here are a few representative ones:
“Let’s continue to destroy the competitiveness of our factories & manufacturing so we can fight mythical global warming. China is so happy!” November 1, 2012
“Snow and ice, freezing weather, in Texas, Arizona and Oklahoma – what the hell is going on with GLOBAL WARMING?” November 23, 2013
“This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps, and our GW scientists are stuck in ice” January 2, 2014
“Record setting cold and snow, ice caps massive! The only global warming we should fear is that caused by nuclear weapons – incompetent pols.” February 19, 2015
“We should be focused on magnificently clean and healthy air and not distracted by the expensive hoax that is global warming!” – December 6, 2013
Moving on to now: Confronted by CNN’s Tapper with Trump’s tweet “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” from November 2012, Haley wriggled: “What I will tell you is the regulations from the Paris agreement were disadvantaging our companies. We know that. I knew that as a governor. The jobs were not attainable as long as we lived under those regulations. It was not possible to meet the goals had we attempted to.”
She also added that Trump knows “the U.S. has to be responsible” for the change in climate, “and that’s what we’re going to do.”
How, in this era of a White House making things up as it staggers along, do we know Haley is telling the truth? How do we know Trump’s reversal to climate change skepticism was just another deception?
Because a year ago, in 2016, after messaging that global warming is “bullshit,” he ordered his seaside golf course in Doonbeg, Ireland, to be protected from the ravages of rising sea levels. Yes, by building a wall – not to keep out Mexicans, but the deluge.
If Trump had thought the problem was transitory, businessman that he is, he wouldn’t go to the expense of building a seawall to protect the lawn.
What are we to make of all this? If we ignore the tweets entirely – let the negatives and positives cancel each other out – what we get is a businessman who knows perfectly well that the rising ocean is about to devour one of his precious golf courses. He knows perfectly well he has to do something about it, or his precious golf course will go bye-bye.
If he knows perfectly well that climate change is threatening his golf course, by extension he knows perfectly well that climate change exists and is dangerous.
So why on earth would he pull the No. 1 world power, the United States, out of the Paris accord?
For one thing, he has shown quite the penchant for tearing things down without considering what structures should replace them.
Second, he may genuinely be confused about the science involved, or the phenomena we are witnessing. Some even suspect the president has Alzheimer’s disease.
Third, Donald Trump has demonstrated time and again that he will stop at nothing to achieve his goals.
His latest goal was to be president of the United States on the Republican ticket. To achieve that, he would stop at nothing, cavil at reversing no belief, lie, and talk and tweet twaddle. He may know at heart that his climate change-related tweets are junk food for the mind, designed to appeal to people desperate to think their way of life isn’t about to disappear forever, longing to believe their children will not suffer from the sins of the parents and grandparents.
But they will, and probably more so because of what Trump has just done. It seems that Trump firmly believes in climate change. He just doesn’t believe in consequences. Après lui, le deluge.
Trump could still pull a Trump, reverse course yet again, take climate change – if not “global warming” per se – seriously, and place the United States where it should be: at the forefront of the global effort to heal the planet before it’s too late. America first, indeed.
Donald Trump cannot change the trajectory of climate change. The trend has been developing since the start of the Industrial Revolution. But he can be one hell of a blip on the trendline. In either direction.