Here's a quick refresher on Trump's views on climate change, in four tweets:
No matter how much he tweets, Trump can't change the numbers and the science. The average temperature across the world’s land and ocean surfaces in 2016 was 58.69 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1.69 degrees above the 20th century average, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. NASA, using its own data, concurred. The space agency declared it had "greater than 95 percent certainty" in its conclusion, according to the Post's Chris Mooney.
The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang gauged the reaction of a host of scientists, many of whom came away with a similar, inescapable conclusion: It's well past time to recognize the human impact on our climate.
- "Some years will be warmer and some years will be cooler than others, but as long as human-produced greenhouse gases continue to increase in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels, the long-term global temperature trend averaged over multiple decades will be upward." — Gerald Meehl, senior scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research
- "The box of ammunition used by those who try to spread misinformation about the influences of humans on the climate system is rapidly dwindling... Can it be stopped? No. Can it be slowed down? Certainly, but it will take a concerted effort by all of us on many fronts, and we cannot wait any longer." — Jennifer Francis, research professor, Rutgers University
- "For the first time in recorded history, we have now had three consecutive record-warm years for both the globe and the Northern Hemisphere. The likelihood of this having happened in the absence of human-caused global warming is minimal... he effect of human activity on our climate is no longer subtle. It’s plain as day, as are the impacts — in the form of record floods, droughts, superstorms and wildfires — that it is having on us and our planet." — Michael Mann, director of Earth System Science Center, Penn State University
But a Trump administration is unlikely to get the message. On the same day these revelations came out, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Trump's pick to helm the country's Environmental Protection Agency, went before a Senate hearing to prove his bona fides. Pruitt, the bete noire of climate activists — and a recipient of numerous donations from energy companies — was grilled on his views on climate change: He said it isn't a "hoax," but still equivocated in the face of the overwhelming scientific consensus.
"I believe the ability to measure with precision the degree of human activity's impact on the climate is subject to more debate on whether the climate is changing or whether human activity contributes to it," Pruitt said at the hearing.
That earned a tart response from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders: "So you are applying for a job as administrator for the EPA to protect our environment, overwhelming majority of scientists say we have got to act boldly, and you're telling me that there needs to be more debate on this issue?" Pruitt demurred.
On the subject of climate change, Trump and his allies in the Republican Party remain considerably out of sync with the bulk of the international community. A Tory government in Britain, for example, is far ahead of its conservative counterparts across the Atlantic in reckoning with the challenge.
It ultimately may not be a big deal. Executives at a number of big corporations recently told the Wall Street Journal they intend to stay the course and stick to low emissions targets, no matter Trump's climate skepticism. And, by and large, the real political initiatives that address climate change are taking place at the local level, with state governors and city mayors pushing through reforms that encourage alternative energy solutions and reduce emissions.
But if there's any meaningful progress to be made in the coming years, it'll be likely in spite of Trump.
May's Brexit speech sparks a backlash
British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her intention on Tuesday to lead her nation fully out of the European Union, prompting a great deal of commentary the next day. It was celebrated by supporters as a declaration of independence from the diktats of Brussels. But others cautioned against British delusions that they could secure a better trade deal with Europe than what the E.U. already offers them.
Here's a quick survey of some of the smarter pieces:
"Britain will not try to stay in Europe's Single Market, and only on a limited basis in its Customs Union. It will instead try to negotiate new free trade deals with Europe, and the rest of the world for that matter. In other words, Britain really is going to make itself poorer so that it can restrict immigration. Welcome to the new nationalism." Washington Post's Wonkblog
"The prime minister might have seized control of the agenda but she has sacrificed time. In calling for everything, including a new trade deal between Britain and the EU, to be wrapped up in two years she has bound herself in a schedule most people in Brussels think is impossible. A successful deal will rest on the length and scope of 'the transition,' which May admitted was crucial to avoiding a cliff edge for the economy." Politico EU
"The truth is that when Mrs May formally triggers Brexit she will find the cards stacked against her. Subject to an imminent Supreme Court ruling on needing parliamentary approval, she plans to initiate the process in March... As she conceded, the other 27 EU countries have been impressively united over Brexit. They may welcome her new clarity, but for them the preservation of the union is more pressing than all else. As several leaders have said, Britain cannot have a better deal outside than inside the club." The Economist