Thursday afternoon as yet another frigid cold snap worked its way across the continent, smashing records on its way, Trump displayed the depths of his ignorance when he tweeted:
In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. 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. Bundle up!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 29, 2017
And no doubt, many folks will have to endure similarly ignorant comments from their right-wing relatives at Holiday Parties across the land.
Scientists and journalists have rushed to point out that weather and climate aren’t the same, and individual variations will continue to occur as the Earth warms, meaning we’ll continue to get cold snaps. Since climate change also causes more intense storms, we’ll continue to get big snowfalls, as well as more intense rainstorms.
But the record is clear; the Earth is warming. For example, 2016 was the hottest year on record, breaking the record set in 2015, which broke the record in set in 2014... you get the idea. Or look at decadal records. For the last four decades in a row, each decade has set a record for the hottest on record since records have been kept.
But still, the past four winters have seen record cold temperatures. What’s up with that?
It’s the polar vortex, stupid
There’s one phenomena that explains the record-breaking cold snaps we’re seeing, and beyond that, it reveals the awesome power of climate change and the danger of having a scientific illiterate and all-around idiot in the White House.
Here’s what a lot of climatologists and meteorologists believe is happening. The polar regions are warming at twice the global average, and this, together with the loss of ice cover, breaks down the polar vortex, which had been effective at keeping cold arctic air in the Arctic. As a result, Arctic air masses can move southward more easily. So it may seem counterintuitive, but global warming can cause localized incursions of frigid air masses.
Now, this is but one example of how complex—and potentially deadly and destructive—climate change can be. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. The amount of energy humans are releasing as greenhouse gasses is equivalent to detonating 4 Hiroshima-sized nuclear bombs per second; or, nearly 2 billion nukes since 1998.
Trump’s ignorance will cost us
There’s one other section of Trump’s tweet that needs to be highlighted. He says, “that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against...”
There are two things wrong with this. First, it is the other countries that are moving to prevent climate change—the U.S. is the only country that is not planning to honor the Paris Climate Treaty.
Second, fighting climate change has become an economic no-brainer. Renewable energy is now the cheapest source of power, and it creates and sustains jobs at three times the rate that investments in fossil fuels do. In fact, subsidizing fossil fuels will impose trillions of dollars of costs on the U.S.
Having an ignorant reality TV star in the White House dismantling environmental protections and fostering fossil fuels is not just embarrassing, it’s downright dangerous to the Earth, and a form of economic suicide.