By saying ‘science doesn’t know (on climate change)’, Trump adds to his expanding volume of signs of ineptitude
Science may not have all the answers, but what it does know is built on epistemological rigour. Try telling Donald Trump that. Questioned by California officials on the climate-change links of the record-breaking wildfires in western US, the president of the US denied climate science, saying “Science doesn’t know”.
‘Science’ doesn’t know, but Trump does—that is the sense he wanted to give to a country that is seeing smoke reach as far east as Michigan (some 3,600 km away from Oregon) and as far south as Hawaii (some 4,200 km away). Four West Coast cities are among the top 10 for worst air quality worldwide; 10 people from Oregon have died in the fire and hundreds of thousands have been rendered homeless. Trump’s flippant dismissal could have been laughed off as a joke or forgiven as ignorance, but it is tragic and dangerous given he leads the nation that is the worst historical polluter and among the worst present polluters (absolute and per capita).
Reams of published research have spoken about how climate change exacerbates wildfire threats. Even the US environmental regulator, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), acknowledges the threat—though the fact that the Trump administration wanted the EPA tamed speaks volumes of what the president thinks of it.
Between 2006 and 2015, the US saw 7 million acres of forests burn down every year, and spent $1.5 billion each year on wildfire suppression. Given how the wildfire-climate change link is a vicious cycle—wildfires add to greenhouse gas emissions—you would have thought Trump wouldn’t be the climate-denier he is. But, it turns out the problem is worse; Trump’s denial of climate science may just be the surface, he may have scant respect for science in general—his refusal to see masks as important in the Covid-19 fight is a minor sample of this.