In the week of this year’s Davos conference of world poobah’s and muckety-mucks, Donald Trump spoke to journalist Piers Morgan. There was so much ignorance on display that most commentators neglected to mention this disgraceful exchange: (I copied this extract from a transcript here.)
PM: Do you believe in climate change? Do you believe it exists?
DT: There is a cooling and there is a heating and I mean, look – it used to not be climate change. It used to be global warming. Right?
DT: That wasn’t working too well, because it was getting too cold all over the place. The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records, so OK, they’re at a record level. There were so many thing happening, Piers. I’ll tell you what I believe in. I believe in clear air. I believe in crystal clear beautiful water. I believe in just having good cleanliness in all. Now, that being said, if somebody said go back into the Paris Accord, if we could go back into the Paris Accord, it would have to be a completely different deal because we had a horrible deal, As usual, they took advantage of the United States. We were in a terrible deal. Would I go back in? Yeah, I’d go back in. I like, as you know, I like Emmanuel… No, no, I like Emmanuel, I would love to, but it’s got to be a good deal for the United States.
I think that Trump is trying to repeat the climate change deniers’ truism, that the climate is always changing, getting warmer or cooler. Thus, why concern ourselves about the warming that may, or may not, be occurring now?
But what does he mean by “…it was getting too cold all over the place.” I’m sure that he is referring to his December tweets about the bitter cold Eastern weather, calling for “… some of that global warming now.” He misunderstands, or more likely is ignorant about, climate scientists’ predictions for the fate of polar sea ice, in the Arctic and offshore in the Antarctic, and the ice covering Greenland and Antarctica. None of the experts claimed that the Arctic sea ice would be gone by now. They can’t say exactly but it looks to them as if it will be gone in a few decades. Even now the Northwest Passage north of Canada or across the Russian arctic opens each summer to commercial shipping without accompanying ice breakers.
Skipping over his “beliefs”, which apparently are being undermined without Trump’s knowledge by Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator, Trump displays his ignorance of the terms of the Paris Climate Accords and the US commitments to the world as part of that deal. Those commitments are voluntary. Each nation volunteered what it would do to meet the world’s goals. In addition, the wealthy advanced nations each promised funds to help poorer and developing nations to achieve their goals while continuing to increase their nations’ wealth. If Trump thinks that the US made imprudent voluntary commitments, all he has to do is issue new ones. There is nothing to re-negotiate, and, indeed, the deal is not open to re-negotiation.
It happens to be the case that the Paris Climate Accords are an excellent deal for the United States, and for all the other nations of the world, each of which has signed on. Trump is turning the US into a rogue state.
Here’s the data about the Arctic sea ice, which Trump says are “…setting records, …” by which he means maximums. These data are from Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis.
February 5, 2018, along with daily ice extent data for five previous years. 2017 to 2018 is shown in blue, 2016 to 2017 in green, 2015 to 2016 in orange, 2014 to 2015 in brown, 2013 to 2014 in purple, and 2012 to 2013 in dotted brown. The 1981 to 2010 median is in dark gray. The gray areas around the median line show the interquartile and interdecile ranges of the data. Sea Ice Indexdata.
Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
Evidently, arctic sea this this year is competing with recent years for the record minimum, not maximums.
Here’s another view of the trends.
Figure 3. Monthly January ice extent for 1979 to 2018 shows a decline of 3.3 percent per decade.
Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
The situation in the Antarctic is more complicated. Ice sheets a mile thick cover the continent and gradually flow to the surrounding seas, and the seas themselves produce sea ice. Thus, warming over the continent may increase the sea ice because it speeds glacial flows. Here’s the sea ice graph for Antarctica.
All recent years have been below average, and summer 2017-2018 vies with the previous year for record low sea ice.
As in nearly every subject, Trump is both ignorant, and mistaken (negative knowledge). Further, he confidently believes his mistakes, which is a worse matter than mere ignorance. He is un-educatable.
Trump’s and the Republicans’ negative knowledge, strongly believing the opposite of scientific knowledge to which everyone should subscribe, represent an immense, world-wide, calamity. For this single subject, no decent person who cares for the fate of the world and for the world in which their children and grandchildren will grow should ever vote for any Republican for any office beginning with school crossing guard and dog catcher.