A warning about the upcoming American election, denial of scientific fact can’t continue – we must get the word out


Before I get into this article I want to make a few points clear. Firstly I recognise I’m not an American, that is why I’m writing an article about this rather than voting. Secondly the concept that non Americans don’t have a right to have a view is insane, not least because even if the UK will not be one of the hardest hit by climate change, I do not want the UK to become a chain of islands, something that is not inconceivable if run away climate change does occur (as this is likely to lead to significant sea level rises). Indeed, to the contrary a majority of Americans do believe in science and indeed in global warming – Trump is in the minority and Americans must recognise the severity of this issue and vote him out on the basis of his denial or scientific facts on this. Having said that, on with the article.

This article is not, I repeat not, about bashing Donald Trump. I do not think he should be president, but I do not live in America and if Americans want to choose someone who appears from the outside to be the most unsuitable man in history for the job so be it.

Note: this article is far longer than normal. I have worked through a number of issues facing the USA and world at the moment. I also wish to make clear, I am happy for this article to be reposted elsewhere or linked if people would like. I know this blog has a few American readers. If you repost, please repost in full, credit me and include a link back to this blog.

As such I will not be talking about his domestic policy, his horrific handling of race relations, giving huge tax cuts to the rich, taking credit for any market growth under his predecessor or his abject failure (which appears to be getting even worse) in handling the coronavirus. I will not be talking about his desperate attempt to to make it harder to vote, his constant lies about winning the last popular vote or his absurd claims about mail – in voting (and the the non-existent difference between mail-in and absentee voting – these two words are interchangeable Trump’s view can be referred to to as mail in all absentee voting) though this is another area where it seems bizarre that any American would support Trump’s attack on democracy that is meant to be so important to the American way of life. 

Climate change and science denial

Republicans have not historically been a party of scientific denial, or even of climate change denial. Indeed President Nixon was the person who signed the EPA into existence. Now granted Trump has carefully removed many of the things that once made the EPA able to fight global warming, but still it should be recognised.

Trump doesn’t appear to believe in any scientific understanding of any sort. The problem is in an age where the world is going to be fighting to try to limit temperatures to a sensible level, this fight is entirely reliant on data. 


Not the subject of this article, but a clear demonstration, the Trump scientific denial would appear to be one of the main reasons that America has done so poorly with Covid-19.   It is terrifying what is currently coming out of the White House, about going for herd immunity. The generally recognised herd immunity level is when 70% of your country has had the illness. Roughly speaking in the USA, 70% is 230 million. Now we know that the USA is in the grip of a Covid surge, and that deaths lag behind infection numbers, however, taking numbers as they are, roughly 2.7 percent die from Covid. If I’m generous and suggest that shielding and sheltering it works, we could say a death rate of just 1.5%. that gives us a minimum of 3.45 million deaths (directly as well as many more indirect ones). If shielding fails, and we’re looking at their current percentage, America would suffer 6.21 million deaths. Just as a point, if we suggest that the death rate is actually around 5% (early on the numbers were close to this) you’re talking well over 10 million people dead. In his interview that took place instead of the second debate he stated that masks increase your risk of Covid, if enough people in the population believe this lie then the current Covid-19 spike will get dramatically worse. He also claimed that America had a lower morbidity rate than many other countries around the world. It is possible that he found some statistic that could point to this, however the simple fact is America has lost more people than any other country in the world. This president of yours is suggesting a policy that could lead to several millions dead: why would you give him another 4 years? Think about what could happen during that time.

Scientific literacy matters when running a country the size of America, and I’m sure the majority of Americans recognise this in some parts of their brain. It is the same scientific illiteracy that is leading Trump to deny the basic scientific facts behind the knowledge that human behaviour is warming the planet.

Global warming

Thinking of global warming, about a month ago, trump went to visit the horrific forest fires in California, and this conversation took place in the middle of it.

Trump traveled to Northern California to be briefed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state and federal officials. At one point, state Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot urged the president to “recognize the changing climate and what it means to our forests.”

“If we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and think it’s all about vegetation management, we’re not going to succeed together protecting Californians,” Crowfoot added.Trump responded, “It will start getting cooler, just you watch.”

Crowfoot politely pushed back that he wished the science agreed with the president. Trump countered, “I don’t think science knows, actually.”

This comes back to Trump’s obsession with raking which he got while visiting Finland last year. Precisely what he thought was happening in the world’s forests price of the introduction of humans I don’t know. It is also funny to think that the majority of the forest cover in California is federal forests – so if indeed Trump wishes to try his raking idea, (while on a visit to Finland he somehow got it into his head that they avoided fires by raking up all leaves and branches that fell from the trees) a waste of a substantial amount of money but there we are, he could indeed do so – he could manage the federal forest and see whether he gets less fires than the Californian managed forest. I do not know what Donald Trump thinks happened before the advent of the rake.

Carbon emissions

The USA has 4% of the world’s population but emits 25% of the world’s greenhouse gases. The rest of the world has managed to cut their emissions over the last 4 years, during a time that Trump was desperately trying to bring back what he calls “clean coal” in the USA (I can’t imagine anyone reading this article needs to be reminded that clean coal does not exist, coal is made of carbon, burning it releases that carbon as carbon dioxide). There are people who still deny the link between carbon dioxide emissions and increasing temperatures, however among scientists in the right field recognition of this fact is basically universal – to continue  to rely on the one scientist who disagrees with the consensus does not mean you are looking at the data fairly, you are merely picking the answer that you wanted in the first place. The science of climate change has been settled for decades (continuing to deny the science of global warming is akin to continuing to refute the globe being round – there are still people who believe it but the science is incontrovertible that the earth is round).

Effect on America

As things stand the US is destined to be one of the three hardest hit countries in the world when it comes to climate change (the top three countries in terms of price they will pay for global warming are USA Brazil and India – this is a total cost not proportion of GDP, obviously there are several small island Nations that are likely to be completely wiped out). As such, this is not a problem that is going to occur on the other side of the world, America sticking its head in the sand will not stop the impacts of global warming. While you would hope for some feeling of ‘we’re all in it together’ spirit, it is in America’s best interests to finally come off the table and start fighting global warming hard. Indeed if America did that fully now they are likely to be able to lead the world in many of these new technologies. For me and many of the readers of this site, I live in the UK, an island which although not one of these three worst hit countries would become an archipelago if the sea level rise that is predicted occurs. The debate has been had, for 50 years or more, where scientists have been raising global warming with increasing urgency. America must kick out its climate change denial politicians – seeing the world as it is, surely must be a prerequisite for helping to lead one of the countries in it. 

Trump isn’t a climate change denialist, however his actions have the same effect

While Donald Trump has quoted almost every different point of view on climate change and global warming, he certainly hasn’t joined the fight against it (not least having called America out of the Paris climate accord you could argue he has been fighting hard for global warming). At this point if you do not believe that global warming is happening you should not be given a position of responsibility, get out of the way and let someone else do the job. As he clearly has no intention of getting out the way America must get rid of him by voting him out in November. Those with any scientific understanding in America must explain this to people around them, and those living abroad must write to friends within the States saying the same thing. Some people might suggest that who a country votes for is purely and matter to the people within its borders, however I disagree, foolish action on global warming will not only damage the USA but will damage almost every other nation on Earth as well – this makes it our responsibility. The world does not stand a hope of combating climate change effectively if America does not pull its weight. Apart from anything how do we tell developing Nations such  Brazil, India and Nigeria to cut their emissions, when they’re per head emissions are already so far below the West – as an example, carbon emissions in the USA run as about 14.6 tons per person per year, India has emissions of 1.8 tonnes per person per year.

You can argue that we can’t give our opinion on on how America treats its poor or how they look after people who lost their job, or perhaps on how they treat people who are ill (as foreigners), however on a matter like climate change which is going to impact the entire world-as well as likely making lives regions of the planet impossible to live in, either by sea level rises or or temperatures getting too hot for humans to survive, this is not merely an issue for the USA. Their behaviour impacts the world. 

Should China and India and other countries reduce their carbon emissions? Sure but even these developing countries are taking climate change more seriously than America.

Perhaps, in reaction to this, and other anti-science things that Trump has done, this incredibly well respected American science journal ‘Scientific American’ has for the first time in its 175 years endorsed someone running for president in vice president Joe Biden. I think that this is an indication of how worried Americans are at the attack on science and knowledge that has been waged by Trump and the Republicans. I suspect that in the future they will go back to not endorsing anyone. This is an endorsement of politics that pays attention to the facts, against the party who is lead by a man conservatively known to have lied more than 20,000 times since taking office and and has done his best to discredit the idea of fact at all – I don’t believe this is a permanent choice of Democrats over Republicans.

I fear that this is the last chance for America to pull its weight and do something good for the rest of the world. Will we survive another four years of Trump? I suspect so, though I also suspect we will be on a far harder planet for our children’s lives than we got from our parents. Many other developed countries are not pulling their weight and this must change, but only America is determinedly fighting against all that we have tried to do over the last few decades (much to the frustration of many of its own citizens). Currently America is the only country who refuses to admit the danger of global warming, and given the incredible amount of science that comes out of the USA I believe this should be something that the American population is embarrassed by. America is degenerate in the fight on climate change. You can correct this by leaving Trumpism behind.

Just as a note, the Guardian wrote an article two years ago titled “Trump administration refuses to consider that 97% of climate scientists could be right”. Unfortunately despite climate predictions being proved true or the situation being worse, Trump’s view hasn’t changed – Americans, you can’t wait for Donald Trump to see sense. You must act, and put someone in charge who will lead America into fighting to save the world with all other countries, rather than being the country ignoring facts. Currently Harrison Ford is making an effort to raise the profile of this issue, but it should never be out of mind – sure currently Covid is a bigger risk, however climate change has the capability of wiping out humanity – Covid won’t be able to do that. It is no longer an intelligent position to simply deny climate change, while you may be able to find an academic who will support your position when 99% of the scientists believe climate change is happening and you side with the one who disagrees that is not intelligent, it is stupid.

Of less obvious threat, although still a significant danger for the world, is the Trump administration’s dismissal of ecosystem collapse. America continues to have an outsized effect on the world’s wilderness, both through completely and regulated hunting and through financial incentives for the wrong behaviours. Covid-19 emerged because wilderness was invaded and these illnesses came out on the bodies of animals killed to be eaten but not fit for human consumption. It is conservatively thought that there is likely to be at least one law to similar viruses and bacteria that emerge each year, unfortunately the upper estimate runs into the hundreds. It is therefore good for America’s own finances to invest in forest protections around the world and help regrow them in many places. Trump’s disdain for wild wilderness and his support of big game hunting does not have any sensible reasons behind it. Under Obama the US government has started the process of ending the habit of rich Americans going to use other countries as their playground, hunting animals that are needed for balance in their own country. In this area we almost so must return to a more sensible time.

Worldwide organisations and deals Trump has withdrawn from and those that the USA will withdraw from if reelected

Donald Trump is very determined to go it alone, (except when he is determined for other people to do things for the USA such as paying for the Border wall). 

Many of these organisations are extremely important. Furthermore many of them are essential for some of the fights that Donald Trump is determined to abandon.

WHO: World Health Organisation – this has been an organisation that Trump has blamed continually including specifically complaining about the WHO organisation support for China’s early efforts fighting Covid 19 (extraordinary in its hypocrisy as Trump was singing its praise in at the same time. Of course there are problems with the WHO as with any organisations, but most of the problems Trump is pointing at are absurd and or imaginary. Of course to do this during a worldwide epidemic is a bigger insanity. There is a cooling off period baked into the WHO document, and this period ends after the election, so by voting Trump out the USA will not leave. It would be reasonable to vote out Donald Trump for this reason alone.

Paris Climate Accord: This is another insanity. It is reasonable to suggest that the main reason that Donald Trump wanted to pull out was because Barack Obama was the person who signed the USA in. The Paris climate accord is not perfect, far from it. However, it is the single biggest step the world made to fight climate change through reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He suggested that the deal was unfair, because the USA had to cut its emissions by more than others. However, given the USA set its own targets and there is no punishment for not meeting them, it makes no sense. Donald Trump claims that global warming is a hoax: for Americans this is a big problem. The evidence is incontrovertible, and unfortunately the USA will be among the three hardest hit by global warming in terms of the cost of dealing with the effects, as such the USA will pay heavily for Global warming. Essentially you have a choice, pay tens or hundreds of billions over the next decade (and make money from the carbon free market that we have to create) or pay tens of trillions to deal with the effects.

TPP: Transpacific Partnership. This deal that did include the USA essentially set up a market for trade that included 40% of the world population, including Japan, Canada and Australia. It is unclear exactly what he feels is a bad deal, as it is balanced. Suffice to say, as with other market moves by Trump, this America first move will hit America and Americans hard.

UNESCO: USA has decided to withdraw because of the organisation’s supposed bias against Israel. As an educational scientific and cultural organisation, it is important for many things. One of the things it does is keep track of how endangered species are doing in the fight against extinction. Of course the fight against biodiversity loss is something that Trump has made clear he is not interested in fighting.

Global compact for Migration: This is an organisation which overseas safe, orderly and regular migration around the world. Given Trump’s hate of migration into the USA, this seems to fight against his own goals.

Iran Nuclear Deal: another deal that Trump appears to have only abandoned because Obama signed it. Foolishly, it is clear that it was working well, and that by abandoning it the world risks a nuclear Iran.

UNHRC: The United Nations Human Rights Council. This again was over supposed anti Israeli bias, due to a series of decisions that were complaining about the behaviour of Israel against the Palestinians.

UNRWA: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency is another organisation that Trump is pulling out of due to supposed anti Israel bias – due to it working with Palestinian refugees.


You may not particularly like the alternative in Joe Biden and the Democrats; that should not matter. I would say it is the equivalent of being on a sinking ship and refusing to get into the lifeboat you are being offered because it doesn’t look safe. Under sensible leadership, the USA could lead the fight against climate change: there is much money to be made from the move to electric cars, solar panels, efficient grids and all the other things that will be needed. This move will happen whether America likes it or not, and if America refuses to take sensible leadership they will cede leadership of the world, and likely the fortune that will follow. It should also be recognised that ceding leadership on fighting global warming will likely lead to ceding leadership in many other areas. The market for greening the world will run into the trillions, even Donald Trump as a businessman should recognise that America wants a portion of that. It is not America first to fight against the efforts to combat global warming: as I wrote above America has been calculated to be one of the three countries that will be hit hardest by global warming so it is in your own interests to have someone running your country who will fight for the right side in this global battle.

More importantly if you have children or grandchildren or any relatives that are from younger generations, you should recognize that any delay in dealing with the mess we’ve created is likely to cost those generations many multiples more to fix. What legacy do you leave the future people of the planet, will the world still be able to support 7 billion people, or will the land masses have contracted because of melting sea levels to such an extent that the simply isn’t space. There is no excuse, no reason to delay and after almost four years under Trump’s Republican party you cannot feign ignorance, they will damage the future viability of life on earth more than is necessary to survive. Any vote should be made such that if you are asked to explain why, by your descendants that you can do so with a clear conscience.

Tim Welby, Blog author, 19th October 2020

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