A Brief History of President Trump's Stance on Climate Change: Lies, Misstatements, Misspellings

"In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded," President Trump tweeted on Monday


As a dangerously cold polar vortex descends upon the midwest this week, President Donald Trump used Twitter to claim that the Arctic-like temperatures are proof that global warming doesn’t exist.

“In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!”

Beyond his spelling error (“Waming” instead of “Warming”), the president’s message was erroneous to the extreme. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was quick to refute his logic.

“Winter storms don’t prove that global warming isn’t happening,” a NOAA staffer tweeted on Tuesday with a cartoon explanation.

This isn’t the first time Trump has used cold weather to refute global warming. He first began denouncing the science of climate change on Twitter in 2011.

“It snowed over 4 inches this past weekend in New York City,” Trump wrote on Nov. 1, 2011. “It is still October. So much for Global Warming.”

While Trump has repeated variations of this argument on Twitter over the course of eight years, repetition hasn’t made his logic accurate. Scientists and pundits alike have pushed back against Trump to explain that there’s a difference between climate and weather.

“If you look at the temperature map for the climate as a whole right now, the entire rest of the planet is warmer than the historical average with the exception of the Eastern United States and Canada, and the last three years — 2014, 2015 and 2016 — have been consecutively the warmest years on record,” Adam Sobel, an atmospheric scientist, told CBS News when debunking Trump’s latest global warming tweet.

He continued, “So the notion that ‘there’s cold weather happening somewhere so global warming is not happening’ is well understood by people who take the issue seriously to be false.”

President Trump Meets With Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen And FEMA Administrator Long In The Oval Office
President Donald Trump. Win McNamee/Getty

For decades, scientists and government agencies have warned about the dangers of climate change and how human activity has brought it about. In November 2018, the National Climate Assessment was released with the backing of 12 government agencies to warn about the devastating impact of climate change on the United States, according to Time.

But even a landmark report from his own government didn’t sway Trump, who had already outraged the globe when he pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement in June 2017. (The historic international agreement was created to control emissions that cause climate change.)

Here is a history of President Trump’s other lies and misstatements about the science of climate change:

Climate change is a Chinese “hoax.”

Trump has a history of calling climate change a Chinese “hoax,” which first began in 2012, according to politifact.com. “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” Trump tweeted on Nov. 6, 2012.

Notably, he also had a habit of falsely decrying climate change as a hoax on the campaign trial. “Obama’s talking about all of this with the global warming and … a lot of it’s a hoax,” Trump said in December 2015, at a rally in Hilton Head Island, S.C. “It’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a money-making industry, okay? It’s a hoax, a lot of it.”

But the work of thousands of scientist has proven that his claim is decidedly false. Trump himself backtracked on the claim, admitting “I don’t think it’s a hoax,” during an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes in October 2018.

President Donald Trump. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

Climate change isn’t caused by humans.

In the same 60 Minutes interview, Trump renounced one false claim, only to make other misstatements.

“I think something’s happening. Something’s changing and [the climate will] change back again,” Trump said on the show. “I don’t think [climate change is] a hoax. I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s man-made. I will say this: I don’t want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs.”

Trump said he doesn’t think humans are causing climate change, but the National Climate Assessment states otherwise.

“Many independent lines of evidence demonstrate that the world is warming and that human activity is the primary cause,” the introduction reads. Trump’s idea that climate change can be reversed is also incorrect, per the report.

Fighting climate change will cost “millions and millions of jobs.”

When the president withdrew from the Paris Agreement, he argued that it would cost 2.7 million American jobs by 2025 and an exorbitant amount of money, according to the New York Times. But researchers at Stanford University revealed that, if the goals were met, the agreement would save far more money than it costs, per the outlet.

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Climate change vs. global warming.

In many of his tweets, Trump argued that liberals started using “climate change” instead of “global warming” because the latter phrase was no longer profitable (an argument tied to his claim that climate change is a “hoax”).

“It’s not climate change, its global warming,” he tweeted on Feb. 17, 2014. “Don’t let the dollar sucking wiseguys change names midstream because the first name didn’t work.”

He also thought people started using “climate change” because it was too cold to say “global warming.”

In actuality, both terms are still used and still accurate. They just have different scientific meanings.

“Global warming: the increase in Earth’s average surface temperature due to rising levels of greenhouse gases,” NASA’s website explains. “Climate change: a long-term change in the Earth’s climate, or of a region on Earth.” While global warming is still occurring, the phrase “climate change” is more often used because it encompasses major global changes beyond just increases in temperature (like changes in precipitation and sea levels).

Scientists are motivated by politics.

During the chaotic 60 Minutes interview, Trump said, “Look, scientists also have a political agenda.” But scientists aren’t having it, and spoke out in interviews with the Times.

“At its heart, this is just a wacky conspiracy theory,” climate scientist Andrew Dessler told the outlet. “It’s important to realize that there’s never been a conspiracy by a huge field of science. And this would have to be an extremely massive conspiracy, considering the thousands of scientists working on this. On the other hand, there have been many examples (cigarettes, anyone?) where political advocates have tried to cast doubt on science that is extremely solid. That’s what’s going on here.”

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