(THE NATION) – Facts really are, as the popular expression has it, “a thing.” Try telling a former resident of Paradise, California, that truth is just a matter of opinion when it comes, for example, to climate change. Paradise, you probably remember, was the town in Butte County that was incinerated last November by the deadliest wildfire in California history. Or rather the deadliest so far, since there can be no doubt – if you don’t happen to be the president or his climate-change-denying Republican colleagues and cabinet members or part of the 20 percent of Americans who still refuse to believe the obvious – that worse is to come. After all, as the Associated Press reported recently, 15 of California’s 20 “most destructive” wildfires have burned in the last two decades.
For President Trump, whether or not the global climate is changing is not a question to be answered by examining evidence. “People like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers,” he told the Washington Post that very November, adding, “As to whether or not it’s man-made and whether or not the effects that you’re talking about are there, I don’t see it.”