Trump Lied to Prince Charles's Face—and to the World | Opinion

To say that Donald Trump's jaw-dropping display of environmental ignorance while in the United Kingdom is an embarrassment to all Americans would be an understatement. But the worst part of his ramblings about how we have "among the cleanest climates there are based on all statistics" isn't that it sounds like the ramblings of a Fox News addict. It's that his administration is doing everything it can to work towards the opposite: dirty water, dirty air, and, well, a very dirty climate.

Despite the US being responsible for the greatest buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of any nation on the planet, Trump engages in his all-too-familiar and predictable m.o. of projection and deflection, pointing the finger at other countries ("they don't do [sic] the responsibility".) While Trump insists it is other countries who have "not very good air, not very good water, and the sense of pollution," his administration is giving his billionaire buddies and fossil fuel companies carte blanche to pollute.

Reuters reported that in one month in 2018, a coal company owned by Trump's pal Bob Murray released over 200 times the allowable limit of aluminum into the rivers surrounding his coal mine. So much for Trump's support for "crystal clean clear" water.

And throughout his administration, Trump's political appointees (many of whom have come so recently from the swamp they're still draped in algae and muck) are trying their hardest to expand malicious Trumpian environmental policies across the federal government.

For example, Trump's EPA—a cesspool of Koch Brothers affiliates and fossil fuel lobbyists—is trying to put together a team of climate change deniers to challenge the scientific consensus on climate change, led by a man (Will Happer) who has agreed to take money from purported fossil fuel interests to say outlandish things like "The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler." (as a Jew, I find it beyond offensive that Happer attempts to co-opt the tragedy of the Holocaust in a feeble attempt to score political points.)

Meanwhile, Trump's government is actively undercutting science. For example, as reported in the New York Times recently, the United States Geological Survey will no longer model the impacts of climate change beyond the year 2040. What's more, the Administration is proposing that the U.S. National Climate Assessment ignore the impacts of climate change under "worst-case emissions scenarios."

The "worst-case emissions scenario" under attack by the Administration is one in which "emissions continue to rise as a result of fossil fuel use"—in other words, the very future this Administration is creating through its campaign to roll back years of progress in controlling carbon pollution. And reality, this is simply a "business-as-usual" scenario, forecasting the results of a passive policy of climate inaction. It isn't even close to a true worst-case scenario. Consider, for example, this admittedly over-the-top recent Australian analysis envisioning the end of human civilization by mid-century.

While the Administration is pushing to kill any examination of the business-as-usual emissions pathway, it's also pushing to limit how far down the path we look. The inane USGS decision to limit the scope of climate impact studies to 2040 deliberately blinds us to the fate our children and grandchildren will face.

When Trump talked about his lengthy meeting on climate change with Prince Charles, he said that the Prince of Wales "wants to make sure future generations have climate that is good climate, as opposed to a disaster, and I agree."

But in practice, Trump doesn't agree at all. Because that's not the future Trump's administration is working towards. And they know it, which is why they're trying to hide it from the public.

For as little as he may actually understand about climate change, Trump recognizes at a gut level that the public increasingly gets the fact that climate change is real and a threat. The American people do indeed want "one of the cleanest climates". So Trump pays lip service to "good climate" while doing everything possible to allow industry to profit at our collective expense in the form of "not very good air, not very good water, and the sense of pollution."

While I'm still struggling to grok Trump's "sense of pollution", I am pretty sure that his agenda is full of it. Because unlike the rivers his coal friends pollute, it is crystal clear that when it comes to having a "good climate," the administration refuses to "do the responsibility" Trump demands of others.

Michael E. Mann is Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Pennsylvania State University. His most recent book, with Tom Toles, is The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy (Columbia University Press, 2016).

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.​​​​​

Correction: This article was corrected to accurately reflect the name of the U.S. Geological Survey.