President Donald Trump loves to accuse his detractors of producing “fake news” as a way to deflect from his own distortions and misrepresentations.
But in an interview screened in the UK in recent hours, Trump’s tired attack on climate science — itself a demonstrable twisting of the truth — was the epitome of the actual fakery pushed by climate science denial groups and conservative media outlets.
And Trump’s continued disregard for the authoritative positions of climate scientists and scientific institutions and academies across the globe echoed the platforms of groups supported by one of his key financial backers — the Mercer family.
Trump was interviewed by “good friend” and former British tabloid newspaper editor and talkshow host Piers Morgan for ITV.
Headlines soon appeared stating Trump had made a dramatic reversal in his position on the United Nations Paris climate agreement.
“Would I go back in? Yeah, I’d go back in,” said Trump, after repeating claims that the pact was a “horrible deal” for the U.S.
Morgan appeared to think this was news, tweeting an “exclusive “ that in the interview, Trump “reveals possible U-turn on Paris Accord climate change agreement.”
According to the Daily Express and that newspaper’s errant shift key, this was a “HUGE U-TURN” for Trump.
But this is no exclusive, and no U-turn.
Repeating Climate Myths
Trump’s position, as “revealed” to Morgan, is the same position the president outlined when announcing his withdrawal from the Paris agreement in June 2017.
Here’s what Trump said then:
“Therefore, in order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord — (applause) — thank you, thank you — but begin negotiations to reenter either the Paris Accord or a really entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers. So we’re getting out. But we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair.”
Trump also repeated a tired myth that the term “climate change” was now being used because the world was not warming (which it clearly is).
“There is a cooling, and there’s a heating. I mean, look, it used to not be climate change, it used to be global warming. That wasn’t working too well because it was getting too cold all over the place,” said Trump.
As Skeptical Science points out, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was set up in 1988. The ongoing academic journal “Climatic Change” has been publishing since 1977.
In fact, one major promoter of the use of the term “climate change” ahead of the term “global warming” was Frank Luntz — the influential George W. Bush pollster.
In a 2001 report to Republican candidates, Luntz advised the phrase “global warming” should be replaced with the “less frightening” term “climate change.”
In what was the most egregious misstatement of the Piers Morgan interview, Trump claimed the polar ice caps were now “at a record level.”
In fact, latest data from Trump’s own government shows that levels of sea ice in the Arctic are around record low levels since satellite observations started in 1979.
Levels of sea ice in Antarctica are also at below-average levels. Climate scientists have been expressing serious concerns for the state of the melting ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica, which could push sea levels up by several meters.
Mercers Expand Climate Denial Funding
Trump’s climate science denial perfectly mirrors the myths perpetrated by the groups funded by one of the president’s key benefactors — the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer.
Latest tax filings by the Mercer Family Foundation show that in 2016, the Mercers extended their support for climate science denial groups.
As well as continuing to support the notorious Heartland Institute, the Mercer family is now also backing the CO2 Coalition and the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change.
The CO2 Coalition wants the public to think that adding extra CO2 to the atmosphere will only be good for the planet.
DeSmog has reported that the coalition has been funding research to undermine concerns about rising sea levels on Pacific islands.
The CO2 Coalition includes Kathleen Hartnett White as a member. White is Trump’s nominee to chair the influential cross-departmental White House Council on Environmental Quality.
In recent days, the Mercer family’s support of the iconic American Museum of Natural History has also been called into question.
As DeSmog reported in May 2017, the Mercer family has also been supporting the New York City museum and has given Rebekah Mercer a seat on the board of trustees.
The museum has accepted some $3.8 million in funding from the Mercers since 2013.
As the New York Times reported last week, several of the museum’s staff, including curators, have joined calls for Mercer to be removed from the board, on account of her support for climate science denial groups.
Main image: A screenshot from Donald Trump's ITV interview with Piers Morgan.