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Trump's Foolish Climate Babble Begs the Question: How Can 'Global Waming' Tweet Not Be a Troll?

Climate
Coldest wind chill. Valid ending Feb. 1, 2019 at 12 a.m. CST. National Weather Service / Twitter Screenshot

By Jessica Corbett

The Midwestern U.S. is currently enduring life-threatening cold temperatures—which these days all but ensures, as so many climate reporters and experts anticipated, an ignorant and even infuriating tweet from President Donald Trump conflating weather and climate.


Late Monday, Trump tweeted about the brutal and dangerous wind chills hitting the middle of the country, and even asked global "waming" (sic) to "please come back fast."

The Toronto Star's Washington correspondent, Daniel Dale, publicly grappled with whether Trump's latest foolish remarks deserved any attention. As he noted, "Trump's climate-trolling is such obvious outrage bait that you almost want to ignore it, but it's also self-provided evidence of one of the most significant ignorance crises of his presidency, so I dunno."

"There he goes again," tweeted New York Times climate reporter Henry Fountain. "He's consistent, give him that," noted John Schwartz, also of the Times, linking to an article from December of 2017 titled, It's Cold Outside. Cue the Trump Global Warming Tweet.

The president's position has shifted slightly on the global climate crisis, from claiming it is a myth made up by China, to telling CBS's 60 Minutes in an October interview: "Something's changing and it'll change back again. I don't think it's a hoax ... But I don't know that it's manmade. I will say this. I don't wanna give trillions and trillions of dollars."

His administration, meanwhile, has ignored growing demands from scientists and the American public for urgent action to scale back the U.S.' rising greenhouse gas emissions—instead working at the behest of polluting industries to destroy dozens of environmental regulations designed to curb the crisis.

Some who responded to Trump's Monday night tweet simply laid out the facts. Chris Gloninger, a meteorologist from NBC10 Boston, pointed out in a pair of tweets that climate and weather are not synonymous, and "climate change means EXTREME weather, which includes record cold weather as well."

"No, these aren't the coldest temperatures ever recorded in the Midwest. And in fact, 'Global Waming' is making these extreme cold outbreaks more rare, exactly as we expected," said Grist staff writer Eric Holthaus. "I'm a meteorologist, and we have proof of this."

CNN's Ryan Struyk turned to a line from a report put out by the federal government under Trump's administration:

The Climate Reality Project, launched by former Vice President Al Gore, tweeted: "Yes, it's cold. Yes, our climate is still changing," and linked to a blog post explaining how that could be and what a polar vortex is.

The bottom line, as the post details, is that "even though our planet is warming, and record warm days far outnumber record cold ones, we still see periods of colder weather from time to time. We expect that we will far into the future. It doesn't mean that climate change isn't happening. And it certainly doesn't mean that we can stop working to cut emissions and solve the climate crisis."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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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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"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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