It's no secret that Donald Trump has a somewhat chilly (see what we did there?) relationship with climate science. Republican lawmakers have never been the most scientifically-minded folk, but since the US public, in their infinite wisdom, voted the guy who claimed global warming was a Chinese hoax into the White House, politics has descended even further into the abyss of pseudoscientific nonsense.
This year is no exception. Way back in January, the big man himself rambled in an interview that "there is cooling and there is heating". February saw the head of the EPA – that's the Environmental Protection Agency, just to drive home how depressing this is – denying the severity of human-made climate change on live radio while Trump slashed budgets for climate science, environmental science, and the EPA, among others.
July brought us bizarre claims of "nuclear warming" – worse than climate change by a factor of 5 million, apparently. By October, the White House was predicting climate change so catastrophic that we may as well not bother fighting it, and Trump had rediscovered his idea that global warming is a conspiracy (it's not). And just last month, a government assessment outlining the myriad ways climate change is already affecting lives across the US was clumsily buried on Black Friday only for Trump to dismiss the whole report with a casual "no, I don't believe it." After all, he explained, our air and water is "at a record clean" right now, so how can the climate be changing? As for all those forest fires – they're just caused by not enough raking.
You might think it would be hard to beat this 11-month run of dangerous flimflam. But in what looks like it might become a holiday tradition for the Trump administration, they've rounded off the year with a piece of nonsense so bonkers it's difficult to know where to begin.
Enter one Steve Milloy. A self-described libertarian, Milloy has financial links to both Big Tobacco and Big Oil, and as a massive coincidence, he also has a long history of public denial of both climate change and the link between smoking and cancer. More importantly, he was a member of Donald Trump's presidential transition team, responsible for identifying the new administration's staff and briefing them on new policy priorities. And this weekend, he graced us with a piece of reasoning so bizarre that it really has to be seen to be believed.
Yes, that's right folks. Climate change isn't a problem because Venus... exists? I guess?
It's unclear exactly what Steve's point was. Nobody claims the Earth itself is in danger of disappearing – just that it will become inhospitable to life as we know it. And as many people pointed out, if you want to claim humans have nothing to fear from climate change, the toxic, scorching atmosphere of Venus is not exactly a good defense.
Thanks to climate change, we're currently in the middle of a mammoth heatwave – the last four years each broke temperature records, and evidence suggests the next four will do the same. That's nothing compared to Venus... but sure, the planet itself is still there, Steve.
Milloy's take, as hot as Venus itself, left people flabberghasted.
If you thought all this would discourage Milloy, well, sorry. Presumably upset by so many people pointing out the flaws in his reasoning, he doubled down the next day in a series of tweets complaining of getting ratioed by "climate bedwetters", so touché Steve, we guess you won that round.
So there it is. The climate change denial take of the year. Happy holidays, everyone. Can't wait to see what 2019 will bring.