In a Fox News interview on Saturday, Republican President-elect Donald Trump said it wasn't necessary for him to receive daily intelligence briefings because "I'm, like, a smart person," at the same time he insisted "nobody really knows" whether climate change is real — contrary to a near-universal consensus by scientists.
When Fox News' Chris Wallace asked Trump to clarify his position on climate change, the president-elect responded, "I'm very open-minded. I'm still open-minded. Nobody really knows. Look, I'm somebody that gets it, and nobody really knows. It's not something that's so hard and fast."
But it is something hard and fast. Peer-reviewed research into climate change papers and experts consistently find there is a "97–98% consensus that humans are causing global warming" among the scientific community, according to Skeptical Science. The most recent report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N. group of experts from across the world, noted "warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia."
"It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century," the authors added (italics theirs).
As the Nation wrote, global warming and polar ice cap melting is actually progressing faster than prior scientific predictions, with the Earth on track to potentially "increase the earth's temperature by 3.5 degrees Celsius or more by 2100" — resulting in sea level rises that will deluge U.S. cities like Miami and New York. Other effects of an out-of-control climate could include extreme weather, epidemics, lowered agricultural production and even entire regions of the world getting so hot as to be hostile to human life during part of the year.
It's far from the first time Trump has expressed unscientific views on the environment. But now that he's president-elect, Trump has a moral responsibility to realize inaction will do real harm to current and future generations.
Instead, Trump's response has been to plan an administration likely to gut climate change intervention and preparedness measures. His proposed head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, is actually suing the agency to dismantle climate regulations. Trump announced Pruitt's appointment in a statement mocking the EPA's "out-of-control anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs."
Trump has also promised to slash NASA's climate research programs and back the U.S. out of international climate agreements, while his appointment of Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers suggests Trump plans to open up swathes of federal land to drilling and mining. One report suggested Trump's transition team was even seeking the names of all Energy Department personnel working on climate initiatives.
Sure sounds like Trump could use some more information on climate change — or, more likely, he knows and simply does not care.
Correction: Dec. 14, 2016