Following Donald Trump’s appearance on 60 Minutes, some people came away with the idea that Trump was “softening” on climate change. That is, the barrier of nonsense that Trump had wrapped around the subject might have been slightly dented by the major hurricanes that keep battering the United States. But in his extended interview with the Associated Press, Trump made it clear that not only will he never admit that he was wrong about the “Chinese hoax” he has absolutely no respect for scientists, science, or those pesky facts.
AP: But scientists say this is nearing a point where this can’t be reversed.
Trump: No, no. Some say that and some say differently. I mean, you have scientists on both sides of it. My uncle was a great professor at MIT for many years. Dr. John Trump. 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.
“A natural instinct” is exactly what science is not. A scientific theory has to be tested. It has to be discarded when it does not fit the facts. Science is not an instinct, a hunch, a feeling, or a guess. It may start with any of those things, but science has to be tested, and failing ideas have to be tossed away, no matter how “right” they may feel.
Trump also makes it clear that while he claims to be interested in the environment, he has a higher calling.
Trump: What I’m not willing to do is sacrifice the economic well-being of our country for something that nobody really knows. And you have scientists on both sides of the issue. And I agree the climate changes, but it goes back and forth, back and forth. So we’ll see.
Unfortunately, we will.
In the same interview, Trump objects to the idea that Hurricane Michael, or Hurricane Maria, or Hurricane Harvey, or Hurricane Irma, or Hurricane Florence is any indication of a growing threat by claiming that “the worst hurricane was 50 years ago, far worse than what this one was. Then, in 1890, they had one that was even worse.” The 1890 storm that Trump is referring to is presumably the storm that actually struck Galveston, Texas, in 1900. While that storm produced a record number of fatalities, it was likely a Category 4 storm and carried a pressure rating of around 936 millibars, which would not even put it in the top twenty of intense storms striking the United States. In just the last two years, Michael, Maria, and Irma were all more intense storms. It was building standards and the lack of effective warning that made that storm so deadly as it carried a high surge into low-lying areas unprotected at that time by sea walls or barrier islands.
Trump also claims that “We’ve gone through a period, actually, fairly recently, where we have very few.” By which Trump presumably means that nothing has yet hit Mar-a-Lago.
What Trump paints as “a period where we had relatively few” was actually a period in which the number of intense storms was far higher than it had been in most past decades. The 2000s actually had a far greater number of highly intense storms than any previous decade, and while the 2010s may be lagging behind … they’re not over yet. Just the first eight years of this decade has generated a number of intense storms equal to any other decade other than the 2000s.
Trump’s history of storms is no more accurate than his “instinct for science” and both of them are likely to be directly responsible for far more deaths than the worst hurricane. Typhoon Donald is blowing away more than buildings and even more than lives—it’s blowing away the future.