Donald Trump seems to change his mind about the weather every time he changes his socks.
In 2009 he signed a letter with other business leaders demanding “meaningful and effective measures” to tackle climate change. In 2011 he tweeted: “It snowed over 4 inches this past weekend in New York City. It is still October. So much for Global Warming.”
Twitter is his favourite place to discuss the weather. In fact, he has tweeted more than 115 times about how the weather isn’t changing at all, while mentioning freak floods, freak snowfalls, freak hurricanes and how it’s all China’s fault.
In 2013 he wrote: “Ice storm rolls from Texas to Tennessee – I’m in Los Angeles and it’s freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!” Now he says it’s not a hoax, but it’ll change back again without us doing anything.
This is because Trump, and many other idiots, believe a planet warming up means the weather gets sunnier. In fact, a global temperature rise mean the weather gets more extreme. Just like all the meteorological events Trump tweeted about, which are proof of the thing he says doesn’t exist.
The clues are all there, Donny. Let’s take this slowly.
1. There is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than ever before
This is a graph published by NASA. It shows increases and decreases in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere over the past 400,000 years.
The historic figures were worked out testing the amount of CO2 trapped in air pockets in the ice of Greenland and Antarctica. They drill deep into the ice, take it to a laboratory, and capture the air to analyse it. Isn’t that clever?
The more recent figures were measured using satellites, planes and other air samples, which are assessed in laboratories.
The figures started climbing in the Industrial Revolution when humans burned lots of extra fossil fuels, and rose even faster after 1950 after more of us started using refrigerators, cars, TVs, and aeroplanes.
2. Carbon dioxide traps the most heat
There are lots of things that have changed in recent human history which might have an impact on weather, including aerosol gases, land use change, and intensive farming.
There are also many gases that can trap heat, including methane from all the beef that 7 billion people want to eat.
But the biggest “radiative force” comes from CO2, simply because there is more of it than anything else. Methane in the atmosphere lasts about a decade, and nitrous oxide takes a century to disperse. But CO2 can last in the atmosphere for up to 10,000 YEARS.
The Earth needs some of this to keep it warm, just like a blanket. But if the blanket is too thick we will get hot – and sweaty. We have made laws setting limits for CO2 emissions, which businesses and humans mostly ignore.
3. Global temperature has risen
According to NASA, the planet’s average surface temperature has risen by 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit or 0.9 degrees Celsius in the past century.
Most of the rise happened since 1985. The five hottest years of all time have all been since 2010. The warmest of all time was 2016.
That year included severe drought in California, an April hailstorm in Texas, the first-ever tornadoes in Virginia in February, and Hurricane Matthew which was the first category-5 storm in 9 years. It caused $2bn of damage in Haiti, killed 546 people, and also devastated parts of the southern US.
A few months later, the governor of North Carolina asked for almost $1billion of aid.
Trump gave him $6m.
4. The weather has changed
Hotter temperatures do not mean you can abandon the tanning lamps. It means there is less ice at the poles, more water in the sea, and more evaporation into the air.
This makes more clouds, more warm air, more and bigger hurricanes, and much heavier rainfall.
It also means that, when heavy rainclouds hit a cold front, you get really heavy snow and hailstorms just like those Trump tweeted about.
In some places, the extra evaporation and winds means that moisture is taken away from the land and causes drought. When rain does come, the soil is too depleted to hold on to it so there are floods and mudslides.
5. Bad weather does bad things
In 2012, 81% of the USA was in drought conditions which caused an estimated $30bn of damage.
In 2016 a NASA study found that a drought which has plagued Syria, the Lebanon, Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Palestine and Turkey since 1998 is the worst in 900 years.
Since 1998, the region has seen several civil wars, Shia insurgency, the Arab Spring, and the rise of ISIS. The world spent a lot of money on all that. Elsewhere, floods and sea level rises taken lives, cost jobs, worsened poverty, and done lots to increase religious fundamentalism which always comes with a side-helping of terror.
In California, farmers have lost up to $2bn and 17,000 jobs a year. NASA says there is an 80% change of a “megadrought” covering the entire southern USA before the end of the century.
As a species, we are watching all the stupidest things we have ever done play out on the evening news.
And yet, we keep drinking the stupid stuff. We get in the car to go down the road. We demand plastic be made from irreplaceable oil reserves. We cut down trees. We want meat every day, and strawberries out of season, and heaven forfend if there’s a world shortage of almonds.
Did you know that the almond farms of California require more water to exist than all the humans in California? Perhaps we should go easy on the almonds.
If this is all the Chinese’s fault then we need to start worshipping them, because it is plainly a country run by gods capable of controlling the oceans and skies. They can hack our brains to tempt us with another burger and a decadent slice of marzipan-wrapped Battenberg.
Or, you know, we could look at the ice, the sky, the car, the Beast from the East which happened in spring, the drought which lasted most of the summer, the floods which seem to happen every winter, or out of the back window where farmers can now grow Mediterranean varieties of grapes where once they could only grow apples.
And we could ask ourselves why – worldwide – we vote for leaders who deregulate business, complain about wind farms, de-incentivise domestic solar panels, subsidise the burning of biomass, and in the case of the Tango’ed Twat in the White House cut climate change initiatives by 70% and emit nothing but gas.
If Trump was a decent businessman, he’d see the cost of doing nothing about climate change is far greater, financially, socially, and politically, than the cost of trying to do something.
Trouble is, there’s no win for him. He’ll be dead before it matters to him, and his family is rich enough to insulate itself.
He’s right about one thing, though. The weather will change back again. The absence of his hot air will, we must hope, be the beginning of the end of planet-killing stupidity.