Donald Trump’s Achilles Heel
Casting doubt on science
“Nobody really knows if climate change is real,” president-elect Donald Trump declared in an interview with Chris Wallace for Fox News, Sunday, December 11, 2016.
With this declaration, Mr. Trump not only raised the specter of uncertainty about climate science, he also threw cold water on the Marrakech Agreement, an historically unprecedented commitment of 190 nations at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) to rein in planetary warming. The so-called (COP 22) agreement has generated widespread excitement among climate change activists. Not only does it demonstrate that implementation of the Paris Agreement (COP 21), promulgated a year earlier in December 2015, is well on its way, it also showed that a coalition of diverse nations with different economies, social systems, and environmental interests could unite in a spirit of cooperation to keep the earth’s temperature below 2 degrees Celsius, or preferably even below 1.5 degrees.
Creating uncertainty and skepticism about science is, of course, a strategy straight out of the tobacco industry’s playbook. In the 1950s and 60s, to undermine efforts to get people to give up cigarettes and keep tobacco profits rolling in, tobacco companies spread uncertainty about the health effects of smoking, particularly in respect to lung cancer and heart disease. In similar fashion, Mr. Trump and his supporters by casting doubt on the reality of climate change undermine faith in scientific reports showing that the earth’s atmosphere is changing in measurable and deeply troubling ways: i.e., warming temperatures, sea levels rising, glacial melting, growing acidification of oceans, prolonged droughts, degrading of wild life habitat. Continue reading “Climate Change 2017: Challenge and Opportunity”