During Monday night’s presidential debate, Republican candidate Donald Trump was challenged on his claims that climate change is “a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese,” in the words of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. While Trump tried to deny saying it, his 2012 tweet was retweeted more than any other debate-related tweet.
Thus, the people associated with his campaign were left to clean up the mess Tuesday morning. His running-mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, said Trump’s comments were “flippant and joking.” Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway dodged the specific question of whether Trump thinks climate change is a hoax, as he’s tweeted numerous times, telling CNN’s Alisyn Camerota he does not believe it is man-made.
“He believes that global warming is naturally occurring,” Conway said. “There are shifts naturally occurring.”
Setting aside the fact that Trump and his campaign would like to avoid his previous conspiracy theories regarding the reality of global warming, this new position is also untrue. We’ve said it many times but clearly it bears repeating: 97 percent of climate scientists agree climate change is, one, very much occurring and, two, the result of human activity.
While it may be more convenient for Republicans to back away from outright denial and try to paint recent shifts in our climate as natural, and thus no cause for concern, scientists say otherwise. As ThinkProgress’ Joe Romm wrote earlier this year, science overwhelmingly points to the fact that humans are largely responsible for most — if not all — of the planet’s warming since 1950.
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
Just how much warming are we talking about? Well, the Earth just experienced its hottest summer on record — perhaps in “thousands of years”— marking 16 months and counting of of record warmth. 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded at the time, topped by 2015, and now there’s a 99 percent likelihood 2016 will go down as the hottest year on record. As Romm notes, the records are not only significant on their face but because of what they indicate: The “jump” in global warming long predicted by climate scientists appears to have arrived.
These dire predictions don’t appear to keep Donald Trump awake at night, assuming he is even aware of them (for those who say the climate has always been changing but prefer not to read all of the scientific studies that tell us we shouldn’t be comforted by that fact, here is a convenient cartoon).
In addition to his own comments over the years, Trump has vowed, if elected, to erase President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (the most significant action a president has ever taken to restrict the carbon emissions that drive climate change), roll back regulations that enable the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enforce clean air and water standards, open up vast swaths of land and ocean to fossil fuel exploration, and stock his cabinet with oil executives.
On Monday, sources close to the campaign said he’d tapped Myron Ebell, a well-known climate change skeptic who said the “little bit of warming” Earth has experienced is “nothing to worry about,” to head his EPA transition.