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How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?

Photo Source Duncan Hull 🐝 | CC BY 2.0

Remember when our science-challenged president declared that global climate change was a “Chinese hoax”? That his assertion ran against the judgment of 97 percent of the scientific community apparently had no effect upon his foolish and incorrect statement. But now, with killer hurricanes rolling into the East Coast while “super typhoons” clobber the Philippines and western wildfires persist into fall, millions are suffering or worse as a direct result of Trump’s climate change delusions.

It’s almost unbelievable that anyone, let alone the president of the United States, can simply shrug off the undeniable evidence that global warming is indeed creating the monster storms scientists predicted would occur with hotter temperatures and rising sea levels.

But instead of taking the predictions and their underlying studies seriously, the Trump administration has done exactly the opposite of what any leader truly concerned with the safety and welfare of their nation would have done.

Blathering about how the “war on coal” is over, Trump and his sidekick Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are doing everything they can to increase burning coal and other fossil fuels. Last week they even announced a rollback to the regulations intended to limit the release of methane by the oil and gas industry. For those who may not know, methane is a global warming gas that’s estimated to be 86 times more damaging to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Yet, it’s flared off regularly from oil and gas wells straight into the atmosphere 24 hours a day in oil fields all over the planet.

Taking the first steps to curtail methane was a good move by the Obama administration, but therein lays the rub for Trump, who abhors everything done by his predecessor in the Oval Office. So, to save the already bloated petroleum industry a little money, Trump will be off-loading billions in additional damages from super storms, hurricanes and wildfires on taxpayers.

But that’s not the least of it. When Hurricane Florence finally subsides, it’s predicted it will have washed millions of tons of pollutants into rivers, streams and ultimately the ocean. What kind of pollutants? Well, the massive ponds holding manure from concentrated hog feeding operations will likely be washed out. And then there are all the chemical plants, municipal and industrial sewage treatment lagoons, and if we’re really unlucky, maybe a nuke plant or two might create a Fukushima-like nightmare that continues to leak radioactive water into Japan’s coastal waters seven years after its 2011 meltdown.

Incredibly, Trump continues to see these disasters through a political lens. When a study showed 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria, Trump tweeted: “This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico.” The study was done by George Washington University, not Democrats. But despite the in-your-face evidence of climate change’s worsening impacts and mounting human, environmental and economic costs, truth means little in Trump’s make believe world.

You can’t lie your way out of a hurricane or wildfire, nor will Trump’s 5,000 lies since he took office stop the polar ice caps from melting, the sea levels from rising, and the planet from overheating. Until and unless Congress radically reverses Trump’s pro-pollution, pro-fossil fuels policies we, as well as generations to come, can expect to suffer far into the foreseeable future. Given Trump’s delusions that climate change is a “Chinese hoax,” it seems clear our only hope is to instill responsible and realistic congressional majorities come November.

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George Ochenski is a columnist for the Missoulian, where this essay originally appeared.

February 19, 2019
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