Days after Hurricane Irma slammed into Florida, marking the first time in U.S. history that two Atlantic Category 4 hurricanes hit the country in a single year, President Trump’s favorite morning show featured a climate denier who went as far as to argue that climate change “is on average good for life on Earth.”
Notorious, longtime climate misinformer Roy Spencer made that claim after alleging that those who link climate change with the increased frequency and severity of storms like Harvey and Irma are “missing the point.”
“This warming that we’re seeing is relatively benign,” Spencer said. “It’s one half of what climate models predict. The extra CO2 is on average good for life on Earth.”
Spencer’s claim has been thoroughly debunked. A study published last year by Stanford University scientists found that the negative consequences of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere — namely, rising temperatures thanks to the greenhouse effect — far outweigh any positives associated with plants having more “food.” Many other studies have come to the same conclusion.
What’s more, new research appears to show that climate change will actually be harmful to plants and, more worryingly, to the nutrition levels in plants we consume.
But Fox News Chairman Rupert Murdoch has indicated he shares Spencer’s view.
World growing greener with increased carbon. Thirty years of satellite evidence. Forests growing faster and thicker.
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) January 6, 2013
Mainstream climate scientists see a clear link between climate change and more powerful and damaging storms, such as Harvey and Irma. On the heels of Harvey flooding southeast Texas, climatologist Michael Mann told ThinkProgress that “[c]limate change worsened the unprecedented disaster unfolding in Houston from Hurricane Harvey… And unrestrained climate change means we will see many more Harveys in the future.”
About a week later, Irma hit Florida.
Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy’s credulousness about Spencer’s climate denialism — at no point during the interview did he push back on Spencer’s claims — stands in contrast to Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace.
During an interview with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt earlier this year, Wallace debunked Pruitt’s claim that CO2 is not “a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”
“Mr. Pruitt, there are all kinds of studies that contradict you,” Wallace said. “What if, in fact, the earth is warming, what if it is causing dramatic climate change and we as humans through carbon emissions are contributing to it? Simple question, what if you are wrong?”
The Trump administration has already signaled that Harvey and Irma haven’t changed its thinking about climate. During a White House news briefing on Monday, Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert admitted Trump and company remain unconcerned about cause of climate change.
“I will tell you that we continue to take seriously the climate change — not the cause of it, but the things that we observe,” he said.
Later in the briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the administration “is focused on the recovery and relief efforts,” and not considering about how multiple recent once-in-a-generation storms reflect on Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.
Shortly after Spencer’s Fox & Friends interview aired, Trump used the devastation wrought by Harvey and Irma to try and sell tax cuts.
With Irma and Harvey devastation, Tax Cuts and Tax Reform is needed more than ever before. Go Congress, go!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2017