Trump Just Met With Al Gore to Discuss Climate Change

Image: Andrew Harnik/AP
Image: Andrew Harnik/AP

Trump may never remove that dumb tweet about climate change being a Chinese hoax, but there are signs that our prez-elect is warming up to the notion that maybe—just maybe!—global warming isn’t a liberal conspiracy. The latest signal came on Monday, when Trump met with former presidential candidate and noted climate activist Al Gore to discuss our ever-warming planet. 

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The exact nature of the two men’s conversation, which took place after Gore met with Ivanka Trump (also on climate issues), has not been disclosed. But Gore, who has been urging world leaders to take man-made global warming seriously for more than a decade, called the meeting “extremely interesting,” and “very productive,” according to CNN. “It was a sincere search for areas of common ground,” Gore added.

It’s the latest indication that Trump may be softening his stance on global warming. In his first presidential debate against Hillary Clinton, Trump denied ever denying climate change. “I think it’s real,” he asserted during the debate. In a meeting with editors of the New York Times several weeks back, Trump elaborated on his newfound capacity for evidence-based reasoning, saying that he thinks “there is some connectivity” between humans and climate change.

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Before we get too excited, however, it’s worth remembering that this is the same Trump who hired vocal climate denier Myron Ebell to head up the EPA’s transition team. Ebell, in addition to running a group “focused on dispelling the myths of global warming” has been known to refer to folks like Gore as “forces of darkness” who “want to turn off the lights all over the world.”

Trump has also promised to back the US out of the Paris climate accord, which seeks to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius by weaning every nation off fossil fuels this century. Other members of his transition team want to scrap NASA’s Earth science division, which plays an indispensable role in monitoring our changing climate.

It is encouraging to hear that Trump’s views on climate change are not set in stone. But when the stakes are literally the future habitability of our planet, it’s also hard not to be extremely concerned.

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“My hopeful side tells me that he does listen,” former NASA glaciologist Robert Bindschadler told me in a recent phone conversation. “But my concerned side is: who’s he going to listen to?”

[CNN]

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Maddie Stone is a freelancer based in Philadelphia.

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DISCUSSION

In a meeting with editors of the New York Times several weeks back, Trump elaborated on his newfound capacity for evidence-based reasoning, saying that he thinks “there is some connectivity” between humans and climate change.

Trump’s comment about connectivity was immediately followed by a comment which undid any positive spin anyone might want to make about that comment.

JAMES BENNET, editorial page editor: When you say an open mind, you mean you’re just not sure whether human activity causes climate change? Do you think human activity is or isn’t connected?

TRUMP: I think right now … well, I think there is some connectivity. There is some, something. It depends on how much. It also depends on how much it’s going to cost our companies. You have to understand, our companies are noncompetitive right now.

Smoking tobacco is connected to lung cancer. That connection does not depend on how much that truth costs tobacco companies.