Trump touts his ‘natural instinct for science’

Source: Nick Sobczyk, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, October 18, 2018

President Trump offered an explanation yesterday for his repeated denial of established climate science that he says “goes back and forth.”

In an interviewwith the Associated Press, Trump addressed his stance on climate change and extolled his own “natural instinct for science.”

“My uncle was a great professor at MIT for many years, Dr. John Trump,” the president said, referring to the engineer, inventor and physicist who died in 1985. “And I didn’t talk to him about this particular subject, but I have a natural instinct for science, and I will say that you have scientists on both sides of the picture.”

Temperature records kept by NASA and NOAA show the world hasn’t had a cooler-than-average year since 1976, and the vast majority of actively publishing climate scientists agree that human activity has driven climate changes over the last century.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report last week warning of the painful consequences of unchecked greenhouse gas emissions. The report was authored by a consortium of experts from 40 countries and incorporated findings from 6,000 scientific studies (Climatewire, Oct. 9).

The president said on CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday that rising global temperatures could “change back again” and suggested the IPCC report would do little to change his mind.

Some observers say his comments could become a new talking point for foes of action on climate change and help legitimize skeptics who see climate science as a political stance (Climatewire, Oct. 16).

In the AP interview, Trump repeated a version of that claim, as well as several talking points on the environment he taps at rallies. He said he wants “crystal-clear water” and “the cleanest air” and called himself an “environmentalist,” a characterization most greens would likely dispute.

After touring the wreckage of Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle, both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence cast doubt on climate science.

Pence told reporters yesterday that the causes of climate change “are yet to be seen.”

And Trump — who famously owns a resort and golf club in Florida — told the AP the Sunshine State has seen worse storms, even though a body of scientific research has found that climate change is driving wetter and more intense hurricanes.

“What I’m not willing to do is sacrifice the economic well-being of our country for something that nobody really knows,” Trump said.

The Trump EPA, meanwhile, today credited the president’s deregulatory agenda for declining greenhouse gas emissions. U.S. emissions fell by 2.7 percent from 2016 to 2017, including a 4.5 percent decrease from large power plants, according to the agency.

“These achievements flow largely from technological breakthroughs in the private sector, not the heavy hand of government,” acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.

“The Trump Administration has proven that federal regulations are not necessary to drive CO2 reductions.”