First things first — climate change is a leading cause for a lot of extreme weather patterns like increasingly destructive hurricanes, prolonged wildfires, and even in some cases, extreme winter weather. But for the president, that last one is an indicator that the environmental calamity the vast majority of scientists are warning against is fake. On Wednesday, Trump questioned whether global warming is real after reports that the Northeast might be facing the coldest Thanksgiving in more than a century. This came as wildfires continue to claim lives and jeopardize thousands of acres across California.
"Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS - Whatever happened to Global Warming?" Trump tweeted while on Thanksgiving break in Mar-a-Lago, his golf resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
Last winter too, when the East Coast was facing a brutally cold New Year's, Trump took the opportunity to slam investment into initiatives to halt global warming. "Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against," he tweeted in December. "Bundle up!"
Of course, both statements clearly conflate the concepts of climate and weather. "In most places, weather can change from minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, day-to-day, and season-to-season," NASA reported in 2005. "Climate, however, is the average of weather over time and space."
Climate scientists weighed in this week to point out the major flaw in Trump's reasoning. "This demonstrates once again that Donald Trump is not an individual to be taken seriously on any topic, let alone matters as serious as climate change," Michael Mann, a scientist at Penn State, told HuffPost. "He is a clown — a dangerous clown."
Last year too, climatologists stressed that what really matters are the long-term trends in climate that we're noticing, like the alarming report that the Earth is set to warm by at least 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. "Of course it sometimes gets very cold," Todd D. Stern, the climate change envoy under President Obama told The New York Times. "Five minutes’ worth of education would tell you that what matters are global averages, and those are going implacably up."
Trump's attitude toward environmental protection has been repeatedly criticized for favoring large corporations and environmentally harmful industries like coal, oil, and gas since he took office. A few months into his term, he withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. His administration has also supported offshore drilling in the Arctic, disbanded the EPA's air pollution review panel, and rolled back environmental regulations on coal plants. On the Wednesday, just hours before his tweet, he nominated Andrew Wheeler, a coal lobbyist with a notably environmentally unfriendly agenda, to permanently head the EPA.
The president's response to the California wildfires has also garnered a lot of criticism in the last few weeks. Firefighters and California politicians expressed outrage after Trump threatened to withhold federal aid for the fires because of what he called "gross mismanagement of forests." Asked multiple times whether he has reconsidered the effect climate change has had on increasingly devastating fires, he has remained steadfast in his belief that forest management is to blame, adding the inscrutable line over the weekend, "I want a great climate." It's worth noting that many of California's worst fires, including ones that are currently raging, have affected federally owned land.