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Monday, January 29, 2018

Why ignorant world leaders are as big a threat as climate change

Every time I hear Donald Trump pronounce on climate change I think of Kenneth Welsh's Vice President Becker in the film The Day after Tomorrow, denying that anything is wrong even as a giant glacier descends on New York.

We have not got to extreme scenarios like that yet, but the level of ignorance and failure to listen to the science and take appropriate action are on a par. Essentially, the facts are inconvenient and do not fit into a particular world vision or their ambitions for the United States, so they can be disregarded.

People like Trump want to live for today without thinking about tomorrow. That may be fine for a businessman focussed on profit or feathering his own nest, but it is no way for a so-called world leader to behave.

The evidence is in Trump's interview with Piers Morgan when, as the Independent reports, he appeared to misunderstand the basic facts of climate change:

When asked if he believed in the existence of climate change, however, Mr Trump’s answer did not chime with the scientific consensus.

“There is a cooling, and there’s a heating. I mean, look, it used to not be climate change, it used to be global warming. That wasn’t working too well because it was getting too cold all over the place,” he said. Global warming and climate change are often used interchangeably, but in fact refer to slightly different things. The two are not mutually exclusive.

While global warming refers only to the Earth’s rising surface temperature, climate change is a broader term that includes the other effects of carbon pollution, such as changing weather patterns.

He then went on to compound his ignorance:

“The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records. They’re at a record level,” Mr Trump continued.

Mr Trump’s comments echo arguments often made by climate change sceptics that global warming has stopped, or even reversed, in recent years.

Recent figures from the Met Office, Nasa and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed 2017 was one of the hottest years ever recorded.

These temperatures came as little surprise to climate scientists, as they are a continuation of the upward temperature trend that has been on-going for decades.

And Trump could not be more wrong about the ice caps. Data shows that they are indeed at “a record level”, but not the level Trump imagines. Last year Nasa reported record lows in sea ice extent in both the Arctic and the Antarctic.

Is it little wonder we are hurtling towards disaster with this sort of leadership, a so-called World leader who is only prepared to negotiate on reducing emissions if it is a good deal for America?

It brings to mind another film - 'we're doomed Captain Mainwaring'.
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