It’s something of an annual tradition for the president. On Sunday morning, as the eastern half of the country endured driving snow and frigid winter winds, Donald Trump asked on Twitter how climate change could be real if it was so cold outside.
“Be careful and try staying in your house,” he said. “Large parts of the Country are suffering from tremendous amounts of snow and near record setting cold. Amazing how big this system is. Wouldn’t be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!”
Trump has raised similar concerns about that “good old fashioned Global Warming” nearly every year since 2012. If it snows near Manhattan, the president says he isn’t sure about climate change.
Unfortunately, even as New York has occasionally been blasted with frozen precipitation, the world has kept warming. The past four years have been the four warmest years on record—a fact that NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were due to announce this past week, were the government not shut down. Earlier this winter, Washington, D.C., experienced a shocking 22 days of above-average temperatures, and the Northeast as a whole saw a balmy January. President Trump did not seize that opportunity to affirm that global warming was real.
The simple, tedious fact is that two things can be true at the same time: The world’s average temperature can be clearly and dangerously increasing, and it can still snow sometimes in the northeastern United States. Climate emerges from averages, and the averages are unambiguous. Snowpack and ice cover are decreasing, especially in the Mountain West. The Great Lakes’ winter-ice cover has declined by 71 percent over the past 40 years. The average time between the last frost of spring and the first frost of fall has increased in every region of the country since the early-20th century.
None of these facts is likely to convince Trump, for Trump seems to have decided that he does not want to be convinced. As I wrote last year, he has expressed no interest or curiosity in updating his beliefs to reflect new facts. Instead, he has fought to keep those facts from the public: In November, every U.S. scientific agency affirmed the fact of human-driven climate change. The White House responded by trying to bury the report by releasing it on Black Friday.
“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 The Washington Post while rejecting his own government’s dire climate conclusions last year. Believers is an unfortunate choice of word because facts, alas, keep being true whether you believe in them or not. It is dangerously icy in the Northeast, and by all means local residents should stay inside. But a brief cold spell does not undo decades of scientific fact.