Trump hasn’t been too shy about his opinions on climate change. The commander and chief tweeted back in 2012 that global warming was a hoax “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” In 2014, the twitter President tweeted “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop…” and just last December he suggested that “nobody really knows” if climate change is real or not.
But maybe that was all talk, and after taking the oath of office Trump would begin to seek common sense?
After being President for only a few days, Trump has proven that his actions are just as scary as his words. He chose a climate skeptic to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), purged the White House website of any mention of climate change, threatened the EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture with gag orders, and signed executive orders expediting the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.
All of these actions appear to be in line with Trump’s alternative fact that climate change isn’t happening. His claims come as nearly every year in the 21st century has been hotter than the last and as 2016 was confirmed as the hottest year ever recorded.
So, how likely is it that Trump is right on climate change? That “nobody really knows” why the planet has been experiencing so much warming over the past century?
Luckily, we have science to help us answer this question.
Last year, researchers at the Climate Impact Research institute published a study examining the probability of the earth experiencing so many record temperature years in a row simply by chance, and not due to the burning of billions of tons of carbon each year. The short answer: BIGLY unlikely.
By combining observational data and computer simulations of the climate system, the international team of scientists found that if manmade greenhouse-gas emissions were removed from the equation, the probability of having the recent recording breaking global temperatures are between one in 770 and one in 10,000. And the probability of the record high temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere also being a coincidence are between one in 5,000 and one in 170,000.
This means that you’re about as likely to be struck by lightning in your lifetime (the odds are about 1 in 13,000), as it is that global warming isn’t happening because of human emissions.
The lead-author of the report Michael Mann, professor of meteorology at Penn State, explained that "given the recent press interest, it just seemed like it was important to do this right, and address, in a defensible way, the interesting and worthwhile question of how unlikely it is that the recent run of record temperatures might have arisen by chance alone."
And this was before it was clear that 2016 would be the new hottest year on record.
So, the next time Trump or one of his appointed climate change deniers argues that it’s unclear what’s driving global warming, tell them to go flip a coin, and come back once they’ve gotten it to land on heads 15 times in a row (the odds of achieving that are one in 32,768).