He tweeted in 2012 that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” He later said this was a joke, but during the campaign he has again said he does not believe in climate change and claimed that action to limit carbon emissions “is done for the benefit of China.”
The Paris pact represents the first time the world’s two biggest emitters, China and the United States, have formally agreed to hold down the amount of heat-trapping carbon they spew into the atmosphere. Trump would renounce the agreement — and also scrap Obama administration rules limiting emissions from coal-fired power plants. He has promised greater fossil-fuel production and scoffed at alternative energy sources such as wind power.
Clinton recognizes the potential economic benefits of developing the technology to lead the world toward a clean-energy economy. Trump would rather let China, Germany and other nations compete for that prize.
The differences could not be more stark. And the evidence for climate change has never been clearer.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 15 of the warmest 16 years on record have come since the turn of the century. By examining air bubbles preserved for centuries in polar ice, scientists know the concentration of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by 40 percent since the Industrial Revolution, when large-scale burning of fossil fuels began.
Global warming is affecting weather patterns worldwide. Deniers point out that it is not possible to conclusively blame any given storm or localized heat wave on climate change — and that, yes, it still gets cold in the winter. But the phenomenon is clearly visible in melting glaciers and ice caps, the opening of ice-free sea lanes through the Arctic and, most urgently, sea-level rise.
The oceans are rising because warmer water occupies a greater volume than cooler water and because so much land ice is melting. According to NOAA, average sea level is rising by about 1.2 inches per decade. That may not sound like much, but it has already been enough to at least triple the amount of “nuisance” flooding that coastal cities have to cope with when onshore winds coincide with high tide.