Trump unmoved by Prince Charles's appeal on climate change

During his three-day state visit to the United Kingdom, President Trump had scheduled a 15-minute meeting about climate change with Prince Charles, a noted environmentalist.

The meeting went on for 90 minutes. And Trump, a noted climate change skeptic who once called global warming a “Chinese hoax,” was apparently unmoved.

“I believe there is a change in weather, and I think it changes both ways,” Trump told Piers Morgan in an interview that aired on “Good Morning Britain” Wednesday. “Don’t forget, it used to be called global warming; that wasn’t working, then it’s called climate change, and now it’s called extreme weather.”

Trump cited the recent spate of deadly tornadoes in the United States. The president argued that the country has seen extreme weather before.

“Forty years ago, we had the worst tornado binge we’ve ever had,” Trump said. “In the 1890s, we had our worst hurricanes.”

The effect of climate change on extreme weather events is still being debated by climate scientists. But there is virtually unanimous consensus about the fact of rising global temperatures, the melting of glaciers and sea ice, and the rise in ocean levels, all of which are projected to have serious and potentially catastrophic effects in future decades.

The president said that during the meeting, Charles “did most of the talking.”

“He is really into climate change, and I think that’s great,” Trump said. “He wants to make sure future generations have climate that is good climate as opposed to a disaster. And I agree.”

President Trump walks with Britain's Prince Charles in London on Monday. (Photo: Toby Melville/AFP/Getty Images)
President Trump walks with Britain's Prince Charles in London on Monday. (Photo: Toby Melville/AFP/Getty Images)

According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, 2018 ranked as fourth-warmest year since records began in 1880.

But the Trump administration does not treat climate change as the economic, environmental and national security threat that both scientists and the U.S. intelligence community have concluded it is. In his first year in office, Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord.

He did not mention climate change or global warming in either of his State of the Union addresses or in his first address to a joint session of Congress in 2017.

And earlier this year, the White House formed a panel of select federal scientists to reassess the U.S. government’s analysis of climate science and counter the National Climate Assessment, which in November concluded that climate change will cost the U.S. economy “hundreds of billions of dollars” because of the increasing severity of natural disasters, such as hurricanes and wildfires.

“I don’t believe it,” Trump said in response to its release, adding that if “every other place on earth is dirty, that’s not so good.” He told Morgan that the United States is doing its part to make air and water “crystal clean” but that China, Russia and India are not.

“If you go to certain cities, you can’t even breathe,” Trump said.

The air and water pollution Trump was decrying are separate phenomena from greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere, which is the cause of climate change.

The Trump administration has also taken several significant steps to reduce the scope and enforcement of water and air pollution regulations.

Speaking to reporters before a bilateral meeting with the Irish prime minister on Wednesday afternoon, Trump defended his comments on climate change.

“We have the cleanest air in the world in the United States and it’s gotten better since I became president,” Trump said, continuing to conflate the kind of pollution that makes air dirty and unhealthful with greenhouse-gas emissions, which contribute to climate change.

“We’re setting records environmentally,” he added.

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