Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/11/2018 (584 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
"I don’t believe it."
That, painfully but predictably, was the reaction offered Monday by U.S. President Donald Trump when asked about the grim climate-change report released quietly by his government last Friday, the day after his country celebrated Thanksgiving and therefore a day when most Americans are in either a turkey-induced torpor or a Black Friday shopping frenzy — in other words, the day of the calendar year on which Americans are least likely to pay even a whit of attention to news reports about government reports.
The president’s assessment of the report — a non-partisan document whose preparation involved 13 U.S. government agencies and more than 300 leading climate scientists — is as unsurprising as his administration’s cynical effort to bury it. Employing a time-honoured political strategy for dealing with bad news, the Trump bunch rushed the report’s release — it was originally scheduled to be unveiled next month — in hopes no one would notice.
Releasing the report last Friday was in keeping with the political tradition known as "taking out the trash," which refers to dropping unpopular or embarrassing announcements late in the news cycle, when media are likely to miss them or give them minimal attention. Within that context, Black Friday is as trashy as trash-takeout days get.
Given the extremely troubling contents of the document, however, there were bound to be questions waiting this week when America’s 24-hour news cycle returned to something approaching business as usual. And that set the stage for Mr. Trump’s succinct four-word dismissal.
The report laid out the immense negative effects that will be suffered by Americans if drastic and immediate actions are not taken to reduce greenhouse gases and limit global warming. And beyond the usual doomsday global-environmental scenarios — severe storms, coastal flooding, increased inland droughts, more wildfires and widening bands of heat-damaged landscape — the new report also predicts "substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades."
Unchecked global warming will cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars, the document states, with the agricultural sector being hardest hit. Mr. Trump might not concern himself much with the environment, but he sure does care about money.
It’s worth noting, however, that Mr. Trump — who clearly has no knowledge or interest in the difference between weather and climate — tweeted last Thursday about the recent cold snap across much of America, "Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS — Whatever happened to Global Warming?"
Of course, this is the same Mr. Trump who, as a private citizen, once offered the Twitter-dispersed opinion that "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive."
It’s also the same Mr. Trump who, when pandering to rally crowds in rust-belt America, croons his undying love for, and commitment to, "beautiful clean coal" — about as oxymoronic a description as was ever created by the juxtaposition of adjectives and nouns.
Within two months, politicians in the U.S. and around the world have been presented with two clearly worded warnings — first, by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and now in the U.S. government’s Fourth National Climate Assessment — but America’s commander-in-chief remains resolute in his ignorance.
If asked to react to the U.S. president’s doubling down on disbelief, most folks would probably also only need four words to respond:
"I completely believe it."
Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board.
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