Speaking to reporters outside the White House on Monday, US President Donald Trump strove to undermine his own Administration’s Fourth National Climate Assessment, saying that he had “read some” of the report but that he doesn’t “believe it.”
The US Government published its Fourth National Climate Assessment on Friday November 23rd, deep in the midst of the country’s most fervently worshiped holiday, in a move that seems like one of Trump’s lackeys had binged the first few seasons of The West Wing. Unluckily for the Trump administration, however, media outlets pounced on the report and its doomsday-like findings — highlighting, in particular, the report’s conclusions that climate change will cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars annually through the end of the century. (You can read more about the report itself here.)
Fast-forward to the far side of the past weekend, however, and Donald Trump was met outside his White House by reporters intent on discovering the President’s opinion of a report which was so obviously stuffed under the proverbial media rug.
When questioned about the report, Trump explained that he had “seen it” and “read some of it” declaring that “it’s fine.” A reporter then followed up by pointing out that the authors of the report — which, for the record, include 13 Federal Government agencies — “say the economic impact will be devastating.”
Trump’s response? “I don’t believe it.”
The US President, having given his well thought-out and educated opinion on a 1600-page report which he has “read some” of, then proceeded to explain … something.
“You’re going to have to have China and Japan and all of Asia and all of these other countries, you know, it [the report] addresses our country,” he said. “Right now we’re at the cleanest we’ve ever been and that’s very important to me. But if we’re clean, but every other place on Earth is dirty, that’s not so good. So I want clean air, I want clean water, very important.”
Trump then quickly points to another reporter and our daily lesson from the United States’ educator-in-chief is over.
Putting aside for a moment the necessary suspension of disbelief required to imagine Donald Trump has read any of the report, let alone been able to come to an educated and informed position on such a mammoth undertaking, Trump’s understanding of exactly what “clean” refers to truly boggles the mind.
But even that is not the really frightening part of this White House driveway-exchange. No one on either side of the American political aisle — which, at this point, is beginning to look a lot less like an ‘aisle’ and much more like a dark alley Bruce Wayne’s parents accidentally strolled down, pearls and all — believe Trump has an informed opinion on this report — and half the country don’t care.
What is genuinely concerning is that Trump doesn’t “believe” a report which was compiled by 13 agencies from his own government — drawing on the expertise of over 300 authors from across federal, state, and local governments, industry, academia, tribal organizations, and non-government organizations, boasting over 6,000 unique references and building on Volume 1, the Climate Science Special Report (CSSR).
What does the President of the United States of America have to say about such expertise?
“I don’t believe it.”
So … that bodes well.