China’s controlling the environment, everybody

September 5, 2019 — by Rohan Kumar

Trump’s vilification of the media gives his conspiracy theories more traction, exemplified by his declaration that global warming is a hoax by the Chinese.

In 2017, the U.S. was responsible for 6.5 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, approximately 15 percent of the global total. But according to President Trump, we have no role in climate change. Obviously.

On Nov. 6, 2012, Trump tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” 

Looking at the comments, it’s clear that there are a lot of people who find the statement outrageous. Take, for example, the comment by Keelingover, “@realDonaldTrump…YOU WHAT??? Are you mad..oh yes, yes you are.”

However, some  actually believe Trump’s outlandish theory, including influential lawmakers.

Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who ironically chaired the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said in 2003, “Wake up, America. With all the hysteria, all the fear, all the phony science, could it be that manmade global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people? I believe it is.”

When Trump hints that global warming is bogus, it hits home with his core base of followers, many of whom believe his every word, especially his constant attacks against the media.

According to The New Yorker, Trump has tweeted about the fake news 150 times since 2017. In fact, he attacked the media over Twitter eight times on a single day in response to the media’s portrayal of his reaction to Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico. Although not directly related to climate change, it’s ultimately this repeated of questioning the media and scientific truths that gives Trump’s crazy conspiracy theories traction.

In fact, Trump’s rhetoric supports questioning commonly held and scientifically proven beliefs to the point where a TIME magazine article titled “Why So Many People Believe in Conspiracy Theories,” although not explicitly naming Trump, has a video about Trump embedded in the middle.

From a practical viewpoint, it seems unlikely that an educated person could believe such a conspiracy. But based on  episodes of “Trump supporters say the darndest things” on YouTube, many people genuinely believe that the media and science are fake, and that the Chinese actually generated the climate change that threatens to destroy the global economy.

Ultimately, it is social media that facilitates Trump’s conspiracy theories. Fake research and biased media provide these theories with even more legitimacy. Twitter allows him to quickly reach millions of people, and the theories only spread from there despite their obvious falseness. Trump’s rhetoric serves as a good reminder that as consumers of media, we should all be careful with what we believe and take what we see online with a grain of salt.