Donald Trump Suckered the NY Times on Climate Flexibility

Donald Trump Suckered the NY Times on Climate Flexibility

Donald Trump is one of the world’s greatest con-men and audience pleasers.  I’m sure he would be flattered by that statement.  When he was interviewed by the NY Times yesterday, he tried to get better treatment from them by sounding reasonable.

On climate change, he tried to sound reasonable by claiming that he would take a second look at it, and also at his promise to abruptly drop the Paris agreement on climate change mitigation.  But in doing so, he gave totally incorrect anti-climate science arguments as we would hear from Fox News, Breitbart, fellow Republicans, and the American Enterprise Institute funded by the Koch Brothers.  The NY Times response to this was no challenge or criticism, followed by the usual spate of news articles that Trump was softening on the issue.

What Trump said repeated falsehoods about climate science and the Paris agreement.  First of all, he said that many experts disputed climate science, and man-made global warming.  “FALSE” as Trump loudly interjected during the debates.  Among published climate scientists, 97% agree with the reality of the subject and with fossil fuels being the cause.  The carbon isotopes that have increased the CO2 content 43% over industrial times definitely came from fossil fuels. 

Another dodge that Trump cited, unchallenged, is that the hottest day was maybe in 1888 or 1898, but he didn’t state where.  That is of course weather, in one place by chance, not climate, which is the average over the whole earth and the whole day, over the whole year, thereby affecting everybody, all the time on average.  If we look at the 10 hottest years, they all occured since and including 1998, and 2016 may be the hottest yet.  The years 2014 and 2015 were the hottest so far.  Just for fun, I looked up the hottest day in the US, and it was 134 degrees  in Furnace Creek, Death Valley, on July 10, 1913.   That is in the middle of a well known California desert, where few live.  There is a Colorado record high in 1888, and an Oregon one in 1898, still proving nothing.

We can turn the Trump extreme temperature argument around to see if the United States had its coldest day a long time ago, then according to Trump logic, it must be warming.  The nation’s coldest temperature was of course in Alaska of -80 degrees F on Jan. 23, 1971.    Let’s look at Trumps home states:  New York’s coldest day was -52 degrees F on Feb. 19, 1979 in Old Forge;  Florida’s coldest day was -2 degrees F on Feb. 13, 1899 in Tallahassee.  So clearly it has been warming over the last 27 years and maybe even the past 117 years, by Trump logic.

Then Trump repeated the aspersion that the hacked “horrible” emails of a few climate scientists somehow showed that they were doing something, unnamed, wrong.  The scientists involved were cleared by at least five investigations, including their home institutes, and scientific societies.  Sounds like Trump on Clinton and Podesta emails.  What also sounds familiar, is that Trump is not only not condemning hacking emails, a criminal offense, but also claiming to use them for his own doctrinaire purposes.

Finally, the US is part of the Paris agreement for the next four years.  Trump and the Congress can decide to do nothing about them, encouraging tariffs against US products, and ruining our world treaty reliability, which they plan to do anyway.  This was also not challenged by the NY Times.

Trump then dumped on wind turbines, as not being made in the US, and “they’re made out of massive amounts of steel, which goes into the atmosphere” he said.   Obviously the steel doesn’t go into the atmosphere, but the CO2 generated in heating and melting the steel.  (The blades are actually made of light glass fiber, but the towers are made of steel and concrete.)  That is an implied admission by Trump that CO2 from fossil fuel is increasing and leading to global warming.  Unfortunately, the whole interview showed that we are in for another four years of Trump never completing a sentence when interviewed, as happened with George W. Bush, and also never really clarifying what he means.  Trump’s pick to set up the Department of Energy, Harold Hamm, the richest oil magnate in Oklahoma, also opposes wind turbines.  Trump also violated the non-existent law about conflict of interest that does not apply to the President, when he discussed with Nigel Farage of Great Britain’s BRexit, to get him to halt the building of wind turbines around his golf course.  To their credit, the NY Times did challenge Trump on this, and also pointed out that wind turbines are being built in North Carolina by General Electric.  By the way, lots of steel goes into the beams of Trump’s Towers, and will go into Trump’s infrastructure upgrade plan.  CO2 is also generated in making the concrete of Trump Towers, and of the giant long “beautiful” border wall that he is building.

In usual Trump hyperbole, he claimed that wind turbines kill “all the birds”.  Wind farms are studying bird migration patterns and ways to scare off birds in order to minimize killing birds.

Trump has placed Myron Ebell, the prime climate science denier of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in charge of staffing the EPA, and rumored to be its next Administrator.  His chief of strategy, Steve Bannon, head of Breitbart, only published climate science denying articles, which were not by scientists.  Trump’s fellow Republicans all are probably indebted to fossil fuel magnates, or are from fossil fuel producing states.  Where is Trump going to find anybody to talk to in order to tell him the truth?

In Scientific American, when his campaign was asked about the climate for an issue, they responded that much still needed to be learned about the climate.  True, but the basics about man-made global warming are established, and all other countries in the world are acting on those facts.  Trump’s campaign clarified that statement in Scientific American by saying that maybe the money (for climate science or amelioration?) should best be spent on eliminating world hunger or providing worldwide clean water (to about a billion people who need both.)  Trump’s campaign has also claimed that it could recover $500 billion from the government by abandoning environmental restrictions or climate science funding, but nobody knows where that money is.  So Trump is really not interested in funding more climate science to find out all the facts.

If I may editorialize, Trump’s childish dodges are just fossil fuel magnate excuses, and he now gives them as President-elect of the world’s largest economy, most powerful nation, and still the best scientific nation , and second largest (16%) CO2 emitter.  He gives them to the reporters and editors of the nation’s and probably the worlds’ most sophisticated and trusted newspaper, almost all without challenge.  Don’t you see something wrong with this picture?

Obviously, the interviewing NY Times newsmen either didn’t know the facts about climate science or all of Trump’s false claims, or the agreement to get Trump to do the interview promised that they would ask him the easiest questions that he would ever be asked, as they jokingly stated at the start of the interview!

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
This entry was posted in 2016 Election, Climate Change, Donald Trump, Fossil Fuel Energy, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Trump Administration, Trump on Climate Change. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply