Welcome to the Madhouse: Scientist says Trump could destroy the world
FEBRUARY 10, 20176:01PM
US may pull out of Paris climate agreement
A WORLD-leading scientist has warned Donald Trump may signal the end of the world — and Australia could be first to face the catastrophic consequences.
Michael Mann claims Mr Trump’s relationship to “post-truth” politics and “alternative facts” is much more than just embarrassing for the US and has the potential to destroy civilisation.
Sitting in an office at the University of Sydney Business School ahead of his sold-out talk this week, the Penn State professor says one only has to look at the city’s record January temperatures for proof of how dangerous the President’s attitude is.
“He’s building a wall between himself and the evidence of climate change,” Professor Mann told news.com.au. “He waffles, it’s hard to pin down, he says one thing to one audience then another thing to another audience.
That’s all folks: Could the President’s policies destroy us? Picture: Jim Watson/AFPSource:AFP
Professor Michael Mann is in Sydney this week, warning that Australia may be first in the firing line if disaster strikes. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied
“Some of his quotes firmly deny basic evidence, then there’s a ‘kinder, gentler’ form of denial — ‘there’s some warming, human activity has some role’ — that is still in denial of science. The science is far stronger than that.”
Mr Trump has sent mixed signals over what he may do about the issue, if anything. He called global warming a “hoax” and pledged to reverse Mr Obama’s efforts to curb coal-fired power plant emissions, but also recently met climate activists Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio. His daughter and close adviser, Ivanka Trump, has also shown interest in the cause.
Professor Mann says Mr Trump panders to his right-wing supporters and the Republican party’s conservative base, which is regularly lobbied by certain fossil fuel companies. But the 70-year-old’s engagement with the “fake debate” of whether climate change is real is delaying other important questions about nuclear fuel, pricing carbon and renewable energy opportunities, he warned.
Professor Mann is the creator of the famous ‘hockey stick graph’, illustrating the spike in global temperature. Picture: Klaus Bittermann/Wikipedia CommonsSource:Supplied
The North and South Pacific have both seen one of their strongest cyclones in the past year and a half, with Vanuatu still recovering from Tropical Cyclone Pam. Australia’s ‘Angry Summer’ of 2013, which saw 123 weather records broken over a 90-day period, is yet another example of the impending risk for Prof Mann.
“The Antarctic ice sheet is close to home,” he said. “If we lose the West Antarctic ice sheet, and we are very close to the threshold, we set in motion the destruction of the ice shelf. The ice shelf is ready to collapse. Then we’re talking a 10- to 12-foot [3- to 4-metre] sea level rise, we don’t know how quick.
“We’re talking massive loss of coastal civilisation. That could be catastrophic for Australia and New Zealand.
“That’s a tipping point we’re very close to, if we haven’t already crossed it. Every bit of carbon makes a difference. What is it that will put us over the edge?”
The world-leading scientist has written a book on the threat of the current political climate. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied
Mr Trump has made it clear he believes in “America First” but the professor of atmospheric science says the nationalism seen in global politics right now is dangerous.
“Trump is maybe signifying a larger nationalist, nativist political wave, like we see with Brexit, that poses a particular kind of threat to activities that require global co-operation,” he said.
“Trump is a threat to a larger global movement. The next election will be a critical decision — do we want global co-operation or a divided world?”
While the President has said he may pull out of the Paris accord on climate change, Prof Mann does believe the world is moving in the right direction and that the billionaire businessman may represent the “last hurrah” for climate change denial. But according to the scientist, that could be enough to push us over the point of no return into global disaster.
“The tide of history can’t be turned,” he said. “Ultimately, fossil fuels will be priced out because of economies of scale. But we’re delaying it a bit — at what cost?
“Even a temporary setback of four years could be enough to make it impossible to meet critical targets.”