Just as he has tried at times with the Covid-19 pandemic, President Trump’s solution to climate change seems to be to wish it away.
“I don’t think science knows, actually,” the President said at the briefing on the California wildfires that have destroyed millions of acres in recent weeks.
With climate change, it is the difference between weather and climate that continually trips him up.
He is right that yes, it will get cooler. We are heading into winter in the US — and all the global warming in the world won’t change Earth’s annual trip around the sun or its tilt, which brings about the change in seasons.
But that doesn’t mean an end to global warming.
As he has done in the past, Trump is once again conflating seasonal weather with climate — and ignoring the planet’s long-term warming trend.
Trump has repeatedly suggested that a cold day or snowstorm must mean climate change is no longer occurring.
His Twitter account is littered with “where the hell is global warming,” tweets, most likely during a winter snowstorm wherever he is located.
“People at all levels struggle with the difference between weather and climate,” Marshall Shepherd, an atmospheric scientist and director of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Georgia, told CNN.
“One of the most common science literacy mistakes is to assume a cold day or seasonal transition somehow describes climate. That’s like saying a baseball player getting one hit is now leading the league in batting average,” Shepherd said.
There’s a difference between weather and climate
Weather is what happens today. Climate is what happens over the long run.
Climate skeptics have conflated the two for years, for example, pointing to cold winter weather as proof that global warming is a hoax, most likely to play on people’s confusion about the two.
“People also tend to confuse what is happening where they live as an indication of what is happening globally,” Shepherd says.
“It is not ‘Where You Live Warming,’ it is ‘Global Warming,'” Shepherd told CNN.
Scientists agree: It will get warmer
“At face value, the President’s remarks are directly at odds with our basic understanding of the causes and consequences of ongoing climate change, as supported by decades of scientific research, including research recently synthesized by 13 federal agencies,” according to Kim Cobb, a professor and researcher of paleoclimate and climate change at Georgia Tech.
As for next year being cooler — unlikely.
So, no — the climate is not getting cooler anytime soon, and yes, the science knows.
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