Letter: Trump’s “alternative” climate science

Don’t like what the scientists are saying? Find different scientists.

That’s the thinking of President Donald J. Trump on global warming and its result, climate change.

He announced it last week by calling for the appointment of “scientists” – hand-picked by Trump, of course – to a new climate change panel that will attempt to “counter climate change consensus” reached in a report by real scientists in his own administration.

No shock, given his strategy for nearly everything: give it a negative label, call it “fake,” shout “alternative facts” and create different rules.

This is dangerous thinking in all cases, but particularly in this one, as it will harm the United States and nations around the world in devastating ways.

Trump doesn’t care.

He denied the conclusions of scientists from around the world in October 2018 when the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change released its “Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5 ºC.”

He did the same a month later, when the U.S. Global Change Research Program released the “Fourth National Climate Assessment.” It was developed by scientists from 13 federal agencies and supplemented with contributions from U.S. corporations, independent research entities and universities.

It says global warming will cost Americans billions without immediate, substantive action to reduce carbon emissions. It also contains dire warnings, region by region, for people who will need to change how and where they live and conduct business.

Asked about it, Trump said infamously, “I don’t believe it.”

Doesn’t believe our own scientists, eh? Wow. He knows better, huh? Wow again.

And in Trump’s world, if he doesn’t believe it, then it simply is not. (“Hoax! Fake News! Lock them up! Lock them up! Lock them up!”)

Thankfully, more logical, reasonable minds are engaged.

Reputable scientists, national security experts and former U.S. military leaders are pressuring Trump to back off. Fifty-eight of them signed a letter to that effect on March 5.

“Imposing a political test on reports issued by the science agencies, and forcing a blind spot onto the national security assessments that depend on them, will erode our national security,” the experts said. “Let’s drop the politics, and allow our national security and science agencies to do their jobs."

These are serious people who are only interested in the most accurate, science-based and up-to-date data. They understand climate change presents challenges that cannot be overlooked or brushed under a political rug. And they comprehend something Trump and his corporate string pullers either don’t get or don’t care about – Lives are at stake.

To be clear, one can and should question science. Scientists do it all the time. It’s called the scientific method. It’s proven. It’s reliable. It works.

So, yeah, refuting the report’s conclusions in any credible way would be kind of tough.

Rather than working to discredit the report, we should be using it to act now and plan for the future. All of us should, but in particular the president and members of Congress.

It’s what real leaders do.

This column was submitted for consideration in The Forum's search for "the next great columnist."