“Hail the Chief” please

Dear President Trump,

It’s so interesting what one finds when one follows a thread. This one started when I was reading about the horrible storms that hit the DC area yesterday, seeing the pictures of cars floating away, roads and parks swamped, and people looking confused and frightened. I decided to check your daily schedule to see whether you were in town for it. The picture of rainwater dumping in through the ceiling of a White House briefing room was the most proximal poke to check on your whereabouts, though not out of concern for you (sadly, you do not engender this sort of response from me), but rather out of curiosity about whether you were seeing this massive impact of climate change up close and more or less personally.

You were indeed in town, and lo and behold, you gave a scheduled speech about the environment (the universe seems to have a sense of irony in having underscored the speech with a colossal weather event). Your schedule page provides links to transcripts of your speeches so I read through about the first 15 minutes of said speech. I tried to fact-check it myself, but this was very frustrating because I kept coming up with outdated sites that didn’t directly address the points you were finessing. After about a half hour of this, I stopped because I just couldn’t stomach the rest.

Before addressing the utter horse-shitty-ness of the content of your speech, I want to make a couple of meta comments about those linked transcripts and the promised “Analysis.” The transcripts are chunked out into 4 to 7 line segments with stills of you at those points and optional audio (which, shocker, I did not avail myself of). Under each segment there are red and green “key words” of super cogent things like “itll kill” and “itll crush” (sic x 2) that one can hover over and learn someone’s take on its relevance to what you are saying right then, which I guess is the Analysis portion of the deal. Well, that and a red thumb’s down that one can click to indicate how bad something is (typically something that was implemented by President Obama) OR a green thumb’s up one can click if one wants to agree that something is a terrific accomplishment of yours. The catch, though, is that only one or the other, a red thumb’s down OR a green thumb’s up, is available to click for each speech chunk – hardly a fair way to gather data (and I didn’t need to put on my scientist hat at all to make that assessment).

So then the content of your environment speech… Like I said, I tried to fact check it myself and I definitely found some graphs of things like CO2 emissions that are not showing the same temporal trends you were touting, but rather a very worrisome increase in the last year. I must admit, though, that I resorted to looking at both the WP and NPR for their takes on your speech and both gave you failing marks. In fact, a former (Republican) Congressman from Florida, Carlos Curbelo, is quoted in the WP as politely having said you were lying – “Regrettably, the president’s rhetoric and the statements he’s made on climate are, at best, disingenuous.” The NPR piece for its part, included the choice bit of color that your entrance was accompanied by “Hail the Chief.” You certainly have some over the top nerve.

It’s too bad you weren’t outside in the storm getting pelted with climate-change-charged rain that was surely mixed with at least a little hail and was definitely accompanied by a whole lot of lightening.

May everyone who has doubts about climate change consider whether they can truly look their children and grandchildren in the eyes and assure them they will be safe from climate change hazards.
May those people be willing to admit it if they realize they don’t want to bet their progeny’s future on such a high stakes gamble.
May we all care about all children’s health 50, 100, 200 years into the future.
May we make peace with the need for radical change, including the need to cut through the distracting, disingenuous rhetoric of our POTUS.

Tracy Simpson

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