In a delicious turn of events at this week's presidential debate, Donald Trump received his comeuppance over a four-year-old tweet in which he denounced climate change.
On stage, his opponent, Hillary Clinton, referenced the tweet from 2012, and remarked that "Donald Trump thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese." His reply? An easily fact-checked lie. "I did not. I do not say that," he scrambled to say, like a child who's been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
Naturally, Trump's campaign tried to refute the evidence plainly laid out by years of irascible tweets. Yesterday, Kellyanne Conway, who heads up Trump's campaign, told CNN that he doesn't believe climate change is a fictitious concept, but rather denies the scientific proof that it's a man-made phenomenon.
"He believes that global warming in naturally occurring," she added.
Meanwhile, Trump's running mate, Indiana governor Mike Pence, attempted to swat away his partner's remarks as a series of off-color jokes.
They were "humorous," Pence said on CNN. "What Donald Trump said was a hoax is that bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., can control the climate of the earth and the reality is that this climate change agenda that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton want to continue to expand is killing jobs in this country."
It seems Trump's legacy as a climate change truther has pushed his campaign into an uncomfortable corner. According to a national survey conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication this year, 56 percent of Trump supporters believe that global warming is happening.
And while it's essential to note that 55 percent of his constituents think climate change is a naturally occurring event, as opposed to anthropogenic, their position is still a far cry from Trump's assertion that global warming is a covert ploy to spend American tax dollars, to which he contributes as little as humanly possible.
After the debate, Pence appeared to concede to the facts, admitting "there's no question that the activities that take place in this country and in countries around the world have some impact on the environment and some impact on climate."
But Pence's sudden affinity for science and reason starkly contradict his previous statements about climate change. On the issue, the governor has endorsed every climate scapegoat in the book, as evidenced by an alarmist post he wrote in 2001, aptly titled "Global Warming Disaster."
In it, he predictably concludes that climate change is nothing more than a "liberal environmentalist agenda," created by Al Gore to kill American jobs. He's also gone on record to offer his own scientific expertise, saying "We haven't seen a lot of warming lately. I remember back in the '70s we were talking about the coming ice age."
Unfortunately, climate change may not be a key voting issue for many Americans. A separate report from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found that in this year's election, climate is a top-tier factor for just 19 percent of registered voters. For those still deciding which candidate to support, global warming and the environment appear toward the middle and lower end of voting priorities.
For months now, election followers have been waiting for climate change to come to the fore, but its urgency has been relatively ignored on the debate stage. "We feel it's unconscionable that the overwhelming coverage has focused on the size of Trump's hands or how he belittles his opponents, as opposed to how our civilization will be powered and climate change averted," said Sierra Club executive director, Michael Brune.
At the same time, Trump has declared his allegiance to fossil fuel corporations, propped his economic reform plan on the back of a dying coal industry, lined his advisory committee with climate deniers, and promised to dispose of landmark environmental policies.
Still, if there's one good thing that Trump has done this election, it's been failing to delete all of his tweets.
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