Why Trump Finally Acknowledged Climate Change

It's no secret that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump wants to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, which our neighbor to the south will supposedly pay for. But there's another wall The Donald wants to build: a sea wall to protect one of his properties, Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland. An application for a permit to build the wall around the property was filed by Trump's company. As Politico reported after reviewing the application, Trump's company cites global warming as the reason for the wall.

This is noteworthy, considering Trump's rhetoric on climate change over the past few years. PolitiFact reported a number of Trump's statements regarding the issue leading back to 2012, when he famously tweeted that global warming was a lie made up by China to ruin the competitiveness of America's manufacturing sector. He's since said on Fox & Friends that it was a joke, but the term "hoax" has popped up multiple times in the candidate's messaging, and he referred to the effort against climate change as a "money-making industry" to explain why the "hoax" exists.

But the ugly reality of climate change's devastating impact apparently rears its head more readily when one of the real estate magnate's properties is poised to feel the hurt. The statements above are in stark contrast to the point of view represented in Trump's company's application for a permit to build the sea wall. Politico reported that the application specifically points to "global warming and its effects" as the reasons the wall is needed. It contains such acknowledgements of the real threat of climate change as:

If the predictions of an increase in sea level rise as a result of global warming prove correct ... it is likely that there will be a corresponding increase in coastal erosion rates not just in Doughmore Bay but around much of the coastline of Ireland. In our view, it could reasonably be expected that the rate of sea level rise might become twice of that presently occurring.

Coastal erosion from rising sea levels isn't the only climate-change-related problem cited in the application. It also notes that the increase in severity and frequency of storms will likely increase the level of coastal erosion in the long term.

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images News/Getty Images

It's easy to mock Trump's hypocrisy here. But it's also a sign that he might flip-flop on this issue, as he has on many others. Interestingly, former Vice President Al Gore happened to appear on NBC's Today on Monday to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the release of An Inconvenient Truth, the documentary in which he sought to make the case for the pressing reality of climate change. On the show, he made some remarks regarding Trump:

He has said some things on the climate crisis that I think should concern everyone. I’m not Pollyannaish about it. But I do think there is still some basis for hope ... President Carter said that he hopes he’ll be malleable. I don’t know.

We could expect this type of story to almost certainly elicit a response, and possibly a softening of rhetoric, from any other politician. But Trump has not shown himself to be susceptible to the shame, embarrassment, and desire to justify oneself which typically accompany such discrepancies between words and actions. It will be interesting to see if and how this development impacts Trump's rhetoric.