Before it gets lost in the chaos of Donald Trump mocking a former Miss Universe’s weight and Hillary Clinton‘s gleeful shimmying was a rather important exchange about how seriously the candidates take science.
CLINTON: Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it’s real.
TRUMP: I did not. I did not. I do not say that.
He did say that… as anyone with access to reality found about about three seconds later. That tweet above was posted in 2012. Trump said years later he was “joking,” but it’s a “joke” he’s repeated several times.
If it’s a joke, Trump is an awful comedian.
Also interesting were the words the candidates said immediately after that exchange:
CLINTON: I think science is real.
TRUMP: I do not say that.
Okay, so Trump was still referring to his lie about climate change being a Chinese hoax… but it is perfect, isn’t it? (And, yes, I know, science isn’t some belief — you accept it or you don’t — but I’ll cut her slack there. She’s on the right side of the issue.)
Later in the debate, Trump once again dismissed the entire concept as an existential threat:
TRUMP: The single greatest problem the world has is nuclear armament, nuclear weapons, not global warming, like you think and your — your president thinks.
The dickish “your president” comment aside — as if Obama isn’t Trump’s president, too — this is remarkably short-term thinking. It’s as bad as Gary Johnson saying we shouldn’t tackle climate change because the sun will engulf Earth in several billion years. It ignores a very real and pressing threat.
For what it’s worth, an open letter about the “serious risks of climate change” was posted online last week, signed by 375 members of the National Academy of Sciences (including 30 Nobel laureates).
The Secular Coalition for America’s Executive Director Larry Decker highlighted those remarks in a press release this morning:
“Our next president must be honest about the limits of their own knowledge,” said Larry T. Decker, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America. “When Donald Trump disregards the scientific consensus behind climate change, he presents an approach to policy making that Americans should find deeply troubling. Science empowers us by showing us the world as it is, unfiltered by belief or ideology. We cannot craft policy first and hope that reality will conform later. This approach threatens our ability to address not only climate change but a wide range of issues where the data presented by science may be inconvenient or challenge established beliefs. It is our hope that going forward, Donald Trump will continue to be pressed on the issue of climate change and both candidates will be asked to clarify how science will factor into their decision-making when serving as president of the United States,” Decker said.
Any candidate who doesn’t accept scientific reality shouldn’t be trusted to lead the country. Trump doesn’t accept it. His running mate Mike Pence doesn’t accept it. And a Monmouth University poll from earlier this year found that only 18% of Republicans thought climate change was “a very serious issue.”
Shame on the entire party.