When hurricanes Harvey and Irma were each barreling toward the United States, the president couldn’t help but be amazed. “Hurricane looks like largest ever recorded in the Atlantic!” Trump tweeted (correctly) a few days before Irma made landfall in Florida. The week before, he expressed similar wonderment at Harvey, which was the most extreme rainfall event in American history. “HISTORIC rainfall in Houston, and all over Texas. Floods are unprecedented, and more rain coming,” he said in one tweet. “Now experts are calling #Harvey a once in 500 year flood!” he said in another.
But now Trump, when confronted with the fact that climate change likely turned these storms into the record-breaking events they were, has changed his tune. Maybe those storms weren’t so big after all.
This is a near-perfect example of how climate deniers will bury their heads in the sand to keep pretending climate change doesn’t exist. Harvey inundated Houston with more than 50 inches of rain—there has never been a bigger rain event in America. Irma, at its peak, reached sustained winds of 185 miles per hour, making it the strongest storm recorded in the Atlantic Ocean outside of the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Trump knew all these things a week ago—but now, suddenly, he doesn’t.