Accuracy in Media

A new Washington Post report said that it is not possible to have any degree of intelligence and question the findings of a government report on climate change that was released last week.

In what was described as a freewheeling 20-minute interview, reporters from the Post asked Trump why he disagrees with the climate change report released Friday, which “found that climate change poses a severe threat to the health of Americans, as well as to the country’s infrastructure, economy and natural resources.”

“One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers,” Trump told Josh Dawsey, Philip Rucker, Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney. “As to whether or not it’s man-made and whether or not the effects that you’re talking about are there, I don’t see it.”

Perhaps, the Post speculated, this was because “Trump did not address the fundamental cause of climate change. The president riffed on pollution in other parts of the world. He talked about trash in the oceans. He opined on forest management practices. But he said little about what scientists say is actually driving the warming of the planet – emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.”

The reporters then seemed to miss a key theme from Trump. It quoted the president saying, “You look at our air and our water, and it’s right now at a record clean. But when you look at China and you look at parts of Asia and when you look at South American, and when you look at many other places in the world, including Russia, including many other places, the air is incredibly dirty, and when you’re talking about an atmosphere, oceans are very small.”

This is not denying that man has a role in keeping the earth clean. This is acknowledging that the U.S. has achieved more than what would have been required of it in emissions reduction under the Paris climate accords, but virtually no other country in the world has.

The Post took on Trump for making a point many before have made – that many of the same people now preaching doom from global warming have been wrong before.

“In his comments, Trump also seemed to invoke a theme that is common in the world of climate-change skepticism – the idea that not so long ago, scientists feared global cooling, rather than the warming that is underway today,” the Post wrote. 

“’If you go back and look at articles, they talk about global freezing. They talk about at some point, the planet is going to freeze to death, then it’s going to die of exhaustion,’” the Post quoted Trump as saying.

This may refer to an oft-cited Newsweek article titled, “The Cooling World,” or a 1974 Time magazine story titled, “Another Ice Age?” the Post wrote, failing to note this was a common theme accepted by climate scientists across the board for decades.

Besides, unlike Trump, who is referred to by one professor quoted in the story as “idiotic” and is lectured by another that “Facts aren’t something we need to believe to make them true – we treat them as optional at our peril. And if we’re the president of the United States, we do so at the peril of not just ourselves but the hundreds of millions of people we’re responsible for,” scientists are just smarter these days.

“Researchers who have reviewed this period have found that while such ideas were indeed afoot at the time, there was ‘no scientific consensus in the 1970s’ about a global cooling trend or risk, as there is today about human-caused climate change. In other words, scientists’ understanding of where the planet is headed, and the consequences, is far more developed now than it was in the 1970s.”

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