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Trump’s Long History of Scientifical Facts
A short guide to the president’s many misunderstandings of the planet we live on (and Mars)
President Donald Trump, a self-professed “stable genius,” has on several occasions suggested the use of nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from making landfall in the United States, Axios reported on Sunday.
One such instance was recorded in a National Security Council memorandum. A summary of the president’s remarks is, well, disconcerting. “Why don’t we nuke them?” Trump asked, according to Axios. “They start forming off the coast of Africa, as they’re moving across the Atlantic, we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it.” (Trump has denied making this suggestion, calling the Axios report “FAKE NEWS.”)
Trump’s actually not the first guy to suggest nuking hurricanes. The idea was studied in the mid-20th century, but the proposal was shelved due to concerns about the potential for nuclear fallout and the huge cost of running tests. Indeed, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explained in its “Tropical Cyclone Myths Page” fact sheet, there is no chance nuclear bombs would actually stop the storm — a hurricane is simply stronger than a nuke. Plus, trade winds would likely spread radioactive fallout to land. “Needless to say,” NOAA concluded, “this is not a good idea.”
Of course, this is hardly the first time the president has displayed his scientific ignorance. Below, a short list outlining Trump’s shaky grasp of the observable universe.
In June, Trump claimed that “the United States right now has among the cleanest climates there are, based on all statistics, and it’s even getting better.” This is not true. According to the 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI), the United States “places 27th in the 2018 EPI. This ranking puts the United States near the back of the industrialized nations.”
On wind turbines and solar power
Trump really hates wind turbines, which he pejoratively calls “windmills.” He has in the past claimed that turbine noise causes cancer (there’s no scientific evidence for this claim) and that, because turbines generate electricity when the wind is blowing, the power goes out once the wind dies (also not true).
In a tweet bashing NASA for its plan to return humans to the moon by 2024, the president said:
Mars is not “a part” of the moon. (It does have its own moons, though.)
On environmental disasters
Before he suggested nuking hurricanes, Trump had plenty of opinions about natural disasters — particularly in California. In 2016, he denied that the state was experiencing a drought, claiming there was “plenty of water” that was just being mismanaged in order to protect “a certain kind of three-inch fish.” The consensus was that his claim was wrong.
Trump has also pinned recent wildfires on California’s forest management practices. However, experts say a combination of factors — including weather conditions made worse by climate change — contributes to the blazes.
And, of course, on climate change
Trump called global warming a “hoax” for years, blaming China for the concept and woefully misunderstanding that extreme weather — including frigid temperatures — is linked to climate change. Though he’s since scaled back his most conspiratorial skepticism, he still questions humanity’s role in global warming. “I think something’s happening,” he told 60 Minutes last October. “Something’s changing, and it’ll change back again. I don’t think it’s a hoax. I think there’s probably a difference, but I don’t know that it’s man-made.”
About 97% of scientists agree that human activity is the leading driver behind global warming. The U.S. government’s National Climate Assessment also stated in 2018 that “the evidence [for global temperature increases] consistently points to human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse or heat-trapping gases, as the dominant cause.”