When heavy snowfall, along with freezing winds, hit the eastern United States at the end of last year and into the first days of January, President Donald Trump mocked those who maintain that global warming is a reality that affects the planet. In one of his tweets at that time, he wrote that “In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!” Jon Foley, the executive director of the California Academy of Sciences, responded with irony to Trump’s words: “Believe it or not, global climate change is very real even if it’s cold outside Trump Tower right now. Just like there is still hunger in the world, even if you just had a Big Mac.”
The U.S. president contends that the idea of global warming was created by and for China, with the aim of making U.S. industry less competitive. He has always opposed the idea that humans are responsible for the phenomenon and doesn’t think that the international community should work to reduce pollution. Of the world’s countries, the United States is the second largest source of pollution (China is the first) and its emissions have a huge impact on the planet.
Last May, Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and has been signed by the leaders of 195 nations. At the same time, he signed executive orders favoring companies involved in mining, oil and gas extraction, and leaving extensive areas of national parks without the protections that they formerly had. To this was added permission for exploration and hydrocarbon extraction in the Pacific Maritime Region.
And while Trump denies global warming, scientists report that data from various sources indicate that Earth's surface temperatures were the second highest since 1880: 1.1 degrees Celsius higher than temperatures in the pre-industrial era, and this despite the fact that it was not an El Niño year. The hottest year was 2016, at 1.2 degrees higher.
For the World Meteorological Organization, the upward trend in global warming is worrisome. “Seventeen of the 18 warmest years on record have all been during this century, and the degree of warming during the past three years has been exceptional,” its director, Petteri Taalas, said. And he added, “Arctic warmth has been especially pronounced and this will have profound and long-lasting repercussions on sea levels, and on weather patterns in other parts of the world.”
Since Trump became president a year ago, scientific research, and those who carry it out, is going through its worst time in recent memory. And it is not just that Trump has gone against the position on the origins and effects of climate change held by the most recognized specialists in the country, but also that he has been trying to cut funding for research. In his proposals for public spending for this year, he sought to cut funding for research in science and technology by billions of dollars. For example, for the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, two major research centers, he proposed cutting $18 billion for medical and infrastructure research. Notably, cuts were proposed for studies of infectious diseases, the effects of climate change on health, and how to improve the efficiency of renewable energy. Congress did not approve these cuts, although that doesn’t mean Trump now believes that scientific research is a priority for the country. His priority, in contrast, is sending astronauts to the moon, something that China, Russia, India and Japan are already planning. This runs counter to the challenge President Obama set for NASA, which was to work to send humans to Mars in the next 20 years. Trump will not be one of those travelers.