President Donald Trump once again cast doubt on the scientific consensus behind climate change Wednesday night because forecasters said it could be cold in parts of America this week.
“Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS,” Trump, who is vacationing in 80-degree weather at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida for Thanksgiving, tweeted late Monday. “Whatever happened to Global Warming?”
The comments appear to reference forecasts that parts of the Northeast could see the coldest late November on record. AccuWeather said the Thanksgiving weekend would be below freezing from New York City up to Maine, and meteorologists said millions of Americans could see the coldest holiday weekend in more than a century.
However, Trump’s suggestion that cold weather means the climate isn’t changing is wrong. NASA notes that weather is a short-term event (raininess, cloudiness, humidity, etc.), while climate is a measurement of weather over time.
“In most places, weather can change from minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, day-to-day, and season-to-season. Climate, however, is the average of weather over time and space,” the agency says on a government website. “An easy way to remember the difference is that climate is what you expect, like a very hot summer, and weather is what you get, like a hot day with pop-up thunderstorms.”
The world’s scientists overwhelmingly agree that the climate is changing rapidly, and the planet has already warmed dramatically since pre-industrial times due to human activity. A landmark scientific report released by 13 federal agencies last year reached the same conclusion.
Trump, however, has regularly expressed doubt about climate science and has appointed many like-minded officials to senior government positions, including the leaders of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department.
Climate scientists lambasted the president’s message Wednesday, saying there was “nothing unusual” about it being cold in November.
“This demonstrates once again that Donald Trump is not an individual to be taken seriously on any topic, let alone matters as serious as climate change,” Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, told HuffPost in an email. “He is a clown — a dangerous clown.”
The president’s comments come as California is dealing from the ongoing effects of several massive wildfires, including the devastating Camp fire that left at least 81 people dead. It’s difficult to link any specific natural disaster with climate change, but scientists note that California’s climate has been changing in recent decades, which may contribute to fires happening more frequently and growing far bigger.
“The fact of the matter is if you look at the state of California, climate challenge is happening statewide,” Los Angeles Fire Chief Daryl Osby said earlier this month as the region was dealing with another horrific blaze. “It is going to be here for the foreseeable future.”
Trump toured the ruins of Paradise, a town in Northern California that bore the brunt of the Camp fire. When asked if he believed climate change had contributed to the blaze, the president demurred, saying a “lot of factors” were to blame.
“I have a strong opinion,” he said. “I want great climate.”