Speaking with the New York Times Tuesday, president-elect Trump appeared to soften his previously expressed stance on climate change. Here’s an example of what he has said in the past:
This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2014
And here’s what he softened it to, according to a Tweet from Times reporter Mike Grynbaum:
Does Trump think human activity is linked to climate change? “I think there is some connectivity. Some, something. It depends on how much.” — Mike Grynbaum (@grynbaum) November 22, 2016
In the meeting, Trump also reportedly said he is considering “how much it will cost our companies” when it comes to climate change, and that when it comes to withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, “I’m looking at it very closely. I have an open mind to it.”
Scientists have actually addressed directly how much of the current warming trend is caused by humans. And their assessment is stronger and more definitive than Trump’s statement above.
Here’s what they said in the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth assessment report, in 2013: ” It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”
Moreover, scientists are very confident in this conclusion. The claim that the conclusion is “extremely likely” means it has a “95–100%” probability of being correct, according to the IPCC.
Why are scientists so sure? Because the evidence is sort of everywhere, they say: “Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes.”
Still, Trump’s admission of “some connectivity” is stronger not only than many of his Tweets — here are three where he implies or directly says climate change is a “hoax” — but perhaps even than what he said to the Washington Post editorial board back in March, where when asked about human-caused climate change he responded:
I think there’s a change in weather. I am not a great believer in man-made climate change. I’m not a great believer. There is certainly a change in weather that goes – if you look, they had global cooling in the 1920s and now they have global warming, although now they don’t know if they have global warming. They call it all sorts of different things; now they’re using “extreme weather” I guess more than any other phrase. I am not – I know it hurts me with this room, and I know it’s probably a killer with this room – but I am not a believer. Perhaps there’s a minor effect, but I’m not a big believer in man-made climate change.
Whatever view Trump expresses on the matter, the most telling fact may be this: He has appointed Myron Ebell, a think tanker from the Competitive Enterprise Institute who has long questioned various aspects of climate change science, to lead his transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency.
Brady Dennis contributed to this report.
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