During a wide-ranging interview with British TV host Piers Morgan, President Donald Trump touched on climate change, transgender people in the military, and much more. In his interview, Trump referenced the lengthy discussion he had with Prince Charles about climate change.
Despite saying it was a “great conversation” and that he was “moved” by Prince Charles’ passion for battling climate change to protect future generations, Trump once again fell back into confusing the science of climate change and resorted to made-up tropes about it.
Here’s a breakdown of what he said and how it lines up with the facts.
A change in the weather
“I believe that there is a change in weather and I think it changes both ways,” Trump told Morgan.
Facts First: This is a classic example of someone confusing weather and climate, which both change naturally, but on far different time scales and for different reasons.
Weather refers to conditions that occur locally and over short periods of time – from hours to days – such as rain, snow, heat waves and cold snaps.
Climate, however, is the long-term average over a broader region, including global averages of variables such as temperature and rainfall, over years or decades.
While weather changes from day to day and season to season, changes in climate are extremely slow, taking centuries or even thousands of years for even small changes to take place. Of course, small changes can have big effects.
While climate changes naturally – and indeed, changes in global temperature go both ways naturally – what we have seen over the course of the last century has only been one way: up.
The speed at which the global average temperature rise has changed is how scientists know that what’s happening is man-made.
No, the term global warming was not changed to climate change
Trump went on to give Morgan a frequently used line to discredit the science of climate change; “It used to be called global warming, that wasn’t working, then it was called climate change and now actually it is called extreme weather.”
Facts First: The terms “global warming” and “climate change” are often used interchangeably but they have different meanings. There has been no change in the usage of the terms over the years, with both terms occurring in in the scientific literature for decades.
“Global warming refers to the long term warming of the planet since the early 20th century,” according to NASA, as a result of the increase in fossil fuel emissions accumulating in the atmosphere and enhancing the greenhouse effect.
Climate change, when used in reference to the recent warming trend, refers to the “broad range of global phenomena” that result from the warming, including sea level rise, polar ice loss, shifts in rainfall patterns and extreme weather events, among many others.
The planet is still warming – and it is getting worse
The planet is still warming – and it is getting worse. Why would the name need to be changed in the first place? Trump says “it wasn’t working,” most likely trying to imply that the planet wasn’t warming so the term had to evolve – but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Facts First: The planet has continued to warm, and the rate of that warming has been increasing.
The past five years have all been the warmest on record for the planet, dating back to 1880, and 18 of the hottest 19 years have occurred since 2001.
As for extreme weather, that is again, a different term altogether that refers to weather conditions that are far beyond the normal ranges, from stronger hurricanes to longer droughts.
The terms are not being changed – they are all used and they are all valid. In fact, they can all be used in a sentence to sum this all up.
Global warming, caused by the ever-increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (for which the United States has contributed the highest amount of), is causing climate change in a number of ways, including increasing the frequency and severity of many types of extreme weather around the world.