Andrew Wheeler; C: Mediamatters
Andrew Wheeler; C: Mediamatters

Even a week after his visit to the Hurricane ravaged island of Puerto Rico, President Trump is still having to defend his crass comments and insensitive actions when he was there.

Speaking over the weekend, Trump defended his widely criticised action of throwing paper towels into a crowd, which was an image that was beamed around the world:

“They had these beautiful, soft towels. Very good towels,” Trump told the Christian network Trinity Broadcasting. “And I came in and there was a crowd of a lot of people. And they were screaming and they were loving everything. I was having fun, they were having fun,” he added. “They said, ‘Throw ’em to me! Throw ’em to me Mr. President!”

According to news report on NBC News, Trump also took credit for coming up with the term “fake.” “I think one of the greatest of all terms I’ve come up with is ‘fake,’” he said.

One of the greatest fallacies of this Presidency is that despite an unusually active Hurricane season, which scientists believe is being made worse by climate change, Preisent Trump still believes that climate change is fake.

He does not believe the science and facts staring at him in front of his face. Facts are not fake.

Dr. Michael Taylor, a physicist based at the University of the West Indies noted last week in the Guardian about the “unfamiliar” and “unprecedented” weather patterns the region was experiencing: “At no point in the historical records dating back to the late 1800s have two category five storms made landfall in the small Caribbean island chain of the eastern Antilles in a single year.”

He added: “Scientific analysis shows that the climate of the Caribbean region is already changing in ways that seem to signal the emergence of a new climate regime. Irma and Maria fit this pattern all too well.”

“But in the end”, wrote Taylor, “the future viability of the region is premised on collective global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Taylor points out that, due to the urgency of the problem, the Caribbean and other small island and developing states have argued for a limit to global warming of 1.5C, rather than the agreed international target of 2C.

Interestingly a majority of Americans now believe that the severity of recent hurricanes in Florida and Texas, is linked to climate change, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

According to the Post this “marks a significant shift of opinion from a dozen years ago, when a majority of the public dismissed the role of global warming and said such severe weather events just happen from time to time.”

And they reason to be worried: A recent analysis of 167 years of federal storm data by the Associated Press found that no 30-year period in history has seen this many major hurricanes

So how has Trump reacted to visiting Puerto Rica? Instead of showing climate leadership, again he has shown climate failure.

Just two days after his visit he nominated Andrew R. Wheeler, a long-term coal lobbyist, with links to climate deniers, to help lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

Wheeler is a former aide to notorious climate denier Senator James M. Inhofe and has a has a dangerous record on climate and helped kill bipartisan climate legislation during his time working as Inhofe’s aide. He is also Vice-President of the “Washington Coal Club”.

It comes at a time when the EPA is about to repeal one of Obama’s flagship pieces of legislation, the Clean Power Plan. “There is no one more qualified than Andrew to help Scott Pruitt restore E.P.A. to its proper size and scope,” Senator Inhofe said in a statement.

Wheeler’s nomination may not be a formality: According to the New York Times, the Democratic Senator for Rhode Island, Sheldon Whitehouse, said “In Andrew Wheeler, the President has tapped yet another fossil fuel industry lobbyist to help in the capture of the Environmental Protection Agency for big polluters”.

The Sierra Club called his nomination “absolutely horrifying,” adding in a statement: “Andrew Wheeler is a big time lobbyist who has represented Big Coal for almost a decade, including in numerous lawsuits challenging the EPA. He is a friend to polluters, not to American families that rely on clean air and clean water.”

So Trump does not care about the people of Puerto Rico. As scientists from the region call for urgent action on climate change, he nominates a known climate denier and coal lobbyist to rip up key legislation designed to fight pollution. Trump was criticised for throwing paper towels on the island last week. But he is doing something much worse and more profound. By denying climate change, he is also throwing away the island’s future.