By Ishaan Tharoor
6 February 2019
(The Washington Post) – President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night zigzagged between paeans to unity and sops to his hardcore base. He eulogized World War II soldiers and then wheeled on immigrants and leftist rivals at home. But absent amid the nativist demagoguery and partisan jockeying was any reference to the threat looming above all others: climate change.
That’s no surprise. Trump is an avowed climate skeptic who casts environmentalist efforts as challenges to American sovereignty, not ways to stave off a planet-wide disaster. As much of the United States endured a deep freeze last month, Trump took to Twitter to plead for more “global warming.”
Experts quickly noted that the president was confusing weather with climate — and that the warming of the Arctic could lead to sharper, snowier cold spells in the North American winter.
“Only with an ill-informed citizenry could you plausibly dismiss the consensus of the world’s scientists based upon a single cold spell,” wrote climate scientist Michael E. Mann. “Trump and, more to the point, the fossil fuel interests whose bidding he is doing have weaponized the public’s poor understanding of science.”
Trump is certainly at odds with the global scientific community — including leading scientists in the United States and even in his own government. In November, the Trump administration tried to bury the terrifying findings of its own National Climate Assessment by releasing it the day after Thanksgiving. In that report, researchers affiliated with a number of federal agencies offered alarming conclusions about the increased risk of natural catastrophes because of the changing climate.
The U.S. assessment landed just a few weeks after the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its own stark warning. The global scientific body wrote that humanity has barely more than a decade to slash carbon emissions on an unprecedented scale to avoid calamity. “Absent aggressive action, many effects once expected only several decades in the future will arrive by 2040,” the New York Times wrote in October.
Now, with Democrats in control of the House of Representatives, Trump’s climate denial is being thrown in his face. Democrats will hold the first House hearing on climate change in six years on Wednesday. And at the State of the Union itself, they brought in a host of academics and activists focused on the climate as their guests. [more]
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