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Trump Still Doesn't Understand Global Warming

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U.S. formally rejects Paris climate treaty at G-7 environmental meeting. Hagmann Report / Flickr

President Donald Trump, who famously asserted that climate change was "created" by the Chinese to hurt U.S manufacturing, tweeted Thursday that the bitter cold East Coast “could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming."

"In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year's Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against," Trump tweeted while vacationing in Palm Beach, Florida. "Bundle up!"


The talking point is a favorite of many climate change deniers who seemingly can't tell the difference between climate change and the temperature. Individual weather events, like when it's unusually cold, do not disprove global warming. Weather refers to the conditions of the atmosphere over a short period of time, whereas climate is how the atmosphere behaves over long periods of time.

In fact, climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe just explained this week why the record snowfall in the lakefront city of Erie, Pa. could be explained by warmer temperatures increasing the risk of lake-effect snow.

Trump's tweet is not just ignorant because it goes against the vast scientific consensus of human-caused climate change, it also reflects the president's belief that the energy restrictions of the Paris climate agreement would cost U.S. jobs and taxpayer money.

"I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," Trump said during his announcement of the Paris withdrawal in June.

Incidentally, scientists predict that 2017 will be the second or third warmest year since record-keeping began. This year's devastating hurricanes and wildfires, which could cost the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars, have also been exacerbated by climate change.

The tweet certainly falls in line with his administration's pro-energy, anti-climate agenda. For one, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt, a fellow climate denier, has known ties with the fossil fuel industry.

Trump has tweeted similar, nearly verbatim thoughts about his climate/weather confusion before.

"It's freezing and snowing in New York—we need global warming," he wrote in 2012.

In 2015, he wrote: "It's really cold outside, they are calling it a major freeze, weeks ahead of normal. Man, we could use a big fat dose of global warming!"

Trump's latest tweet has many on social media balking:

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"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.

The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.

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The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.

"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."

Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.

Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.

That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.

Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.

If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.

"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."

To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.


"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."

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