With tens of thousands of Americans reeling from the devastating impacts of climate change and the 2020 election looming, President Donald Trump is out to prove as he seeks a second term that he has no intention of accepting the crisis as reality ― much less lifting a finger to combat it.
An unwavering ally of the fossil fuel and other polluting industries, Trump has repeatedly denied the all-but-irrefutable science that climate change is real and driven by human carbon emissions. But his statements and actions in recent weeks have proven particularly dangerous.
During a Sept. 14 visit to fire-scorched California, the president, who has no scientific background, casually dismissed decades of scientific research: “It will start getting cooler,” he declared, falsely. “You just watch.”
When Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, told Trump the science disagrees with him, Trump responded, “I don’t think science knows, actually.”
To be clear, science absolutely knows. The world is barreling toward potentially cataclysmic climate breakdowns, which have hit with devastating impacts to people, economies and food security around the world. Trump knows this. But time and again the president has proven that his concern is for the industries that would see their profits shrink with a concerted effort to tackle the global crisis.
Since Trump’s California trip, the administration has tapped two climate contrarians for top positions at the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ― moves that climate scientists say threatens to undermine the nation’s premier scientific agency, which had largely escaped the political influence exerted by the president and his allies seen at the EPA and other agencies.
David Legates, a University of Delaware climatology professor and close affiliate of the climate-denying Heartland Institute, was hired last week as NOAA’s deputy assistant secretary of commerce for...