Leave it to Donald Trump to stumble onto a talking point that can still surprise us. Trump has told two newspapers in the last week that nuclear weapons are the only type of climate change that concerns him.
“I think our biggest form of climate change we should worry about is nuclear weapons,” he told The Washington Post Editorial Board when asked about his concern for human-made warming. Trump then told The New York Times in an interview about his foreign policy, completely unprompted, “When people talk global warming, I say the global warming that we have to be careful of is the nuclear global warming.”
Trump’s nuclear-as-climate-change concern hasn’t yet reached the same level of infamy of lines like, “I’m not a scientist,” but he’s been tweeting on it since at least 2014:
The global warming we should be worried about is the global warming caused by NUCLEAR WEAPONS in the hands of crazy or incompetent leaders!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2014
The only global warming that people should be concerned with is the global warming caused by nuclear weapons because of our weak U.S. leader— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2014
Record setting cold and snow, ice caps massive! The only global warming we should fear is that caused by nuclear weapons - incompetent pols.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2015
Apparently, it’s a reference to the Cold War-era debate over the threat of a nuclear winter if the United States and Soviet Union were to go to war, but now he means it in the context of North Korea and Iran. Conservatives might not normally compare nuclear weapons directly to climate change, though they do like to complain that President Obama overstates the risks of climate change compared to terrorism and foreign threats (see Mike Huckabee’s favorite quip, “I assure you that a beheading is much worse than a sunburn”).
In the same Post interview, Trump insisted he isn’t a “big believer in man-made climate change.” But he hasn’t mentioned his other two favorite theories in a while about how climate change is a hoax: Cold weather in New York debunks global warming, and the whole thing is a con “created by and for the Chinese.”
Where the hell is global warming when you need it?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2015
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
Trump could be following national Republican trends where politicians change the subject instead of jumping into science denial. Maybe that counts as something like progress? Or Trump is just giving us another flavor of climate denial.