There are many things where there are two (or more!) sides to the story. Nazis is not one of them. Neither is climate change.
And yet, here we are. On Thursday, noted Donald Trump butt muncher Piers Morgan interviewed, well, Donald Trump. To Morgan’s credit, he asked Trump once again about his climate change views. We weren’t treated to an answer that invoked raking the forest floor or cold weather or ice caps being at a “record level” (?). No, instead, Trump invoked a “both sides” argument reminiscent of the one he used to equivocate Nazis and not Nazis after a 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where more than a dozen people were injured and one woman died. According to the Washington Post, here’s what he told Morgan, which reads like Trump’s brain trying to reboot in real time:
“I believe that there’s a change in weather, and I think it changes both ways. Don’t forget it used to be called global warming. That wasn’t working. Then it was called climate change. Now it’s actually called extreme weather, because with extreme weather, you can’t miss.
“Forty years ago, we had the worst tornado binge we’ve ever had. In the 1890s, we had our worst hurricanes.”
Trump gave the answer after a 90-minute sit-down with Prince Charles, an outspoken climate advocate who talked with the president about the issue. Clearly, his words didn’t leave a mark on Trump’s very good brain.
Because look, everything in that statement is stupid, a lie, or flat out wrong.
The George W. Bush administration pushed the phrase “climate change” because it sounded less threatening than “global warming” and they wanted to stall climate action (it worked!). Climate change has since become mainstream, losing steam as anti-climate doublespeak. And Frank Luntz, the conservative pollster who popularised the term, has distanced himself from the Bush administration’s climate change denialism, though the legacy lives on with today’s Republican party.
You may recall that 2017 was the costliest hurricane season in U.S. history, causing untold suffering in large part thanks to the Trump administration’s gross mismanagement and climate change supercharging hurricanes. And while there was an extreme tornado season roughly 40 years ago, the worst tornado year in U.S. history is 2012, according to data kept by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which Donald Trump could easily query since he’s ultimately responsible for the agency. But then the whole point of this aimless hodgepodge of lies isn’t the search for a deeper truth but just sowing doubt.
Which brings us to the “both ways” thing, the worst lie of all. There is one direction climate change will go if it remains unchecked: the bad direction. Without drastic, immediate action, it simply becomes questions of how catastrophic the mass die-off of species will be and how many hundreds of millions of people will face poverty due to crop failures, loss of livelihoods, and instability that come with a hotter planet.
That Trump has invoked it for both giving Nazis and carbon emissions a pass is obviously sickening. But remember, he also has a climate denying national security advisor who has compared the “demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler,” so this is just par for the course in the hellscape we live in.
Climate change is the most pressing issue humanity has ever faced. Rising carbon dioxide emissions are ensuring that humans will reshape the climate for eons to come as the atmosphere, ice, and oceans slowly adjust to the new equilibrium humans have created. This is an existential crisis, but rather than acknowledging the preponderance of evidence, Trump has burrowed deeper and deeper into climate denial, spouting aimless lies to justify inaction. And of course, his administration has done everything it can to speed the crisis along, easing restrictions on oil and gas drilling, revoking rules that govern carbon and methane emissions, and casting doubt on science its own scientists are doing at every turn.
The only “both sides” of climate change right now is political: those who choose to act and those who delay. And history will remember the latter as being on the wrong side.