As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office, many fear what his presidency will mean for important issues like immigration, healthcare, and, of course, climate change. Donald Trump does not believe in climate change, despite all the scientific evidence validating its existence. And he could potentially do a lot of damage to the tenuous progress made on the environment under President Barack Obama's administration.
Back in 2012, long before anyone believed he would be our next president, Trump tweeted, "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive." (Later, during a presidential debate, he denied saying that, but much like with climate change, the evidence contradicting him is clear.) And in the years since, he has seized on cold temperatures as "proof" that global warming is a hoax, tweeting, during a cold winter in 2014, "NBC News just called it the great freeze - coldest weather in years. Is our country still spending money on the GLOBAL WARMING HOAX?"
A quick explanation of why that logic is flawed, since Trump seems to be confused: A few cold temperature extremes do not change the fact that, on average, the earth is getting warmer. It's similar to how, hopefully, taking one giant step backwards as a country does not change the fact that, on average, we are moving forward to a better future.
Anyone hoping that Trump wouldn't follow through on the sentiments he blasted out via Twitter is in for a rude (and scary) awakening. He appointed a noted climate change skeptic, Myron Ebell, to head up his transitional team at the Environmental Protection Agency. Regarding climate change, Ebell has said, "We believed that the so-called global warming consensus was not based on science, but was a political consensus, which included a number of scientists."
And The Guardian reported on Sunday that Trump is actively seeking a way to exit the Paris climate agreement more rapidly than the agreement technically allows. In 2015, President Obama reached the accord with almost 200 other nations, all coming together with the common goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit rising temperatures. It's supposed to take four years for a nation to leave the accord, but Trump is reportedly looking into alternatives to exit the agreement as soon as he possibly can.
Some of the expected damage caused by a Trump presidency can be undone with time. But climate change is different. Evidence suggests that the world is already responding to the threat too slowly. A total reversal on the environmental progress the United States has made, because our president-elect doesn't want to listen to science, is the last thing we need.