President Donald Trump has fallen victim to one of the most difficult comedy writing conundrums of modern times. Whenever you have a good idea, it seems like The Simpsons has already done it — and done it better. On Thursday evening, President Trump took to Twitter to drop some climate change knowledge and debunk the notion that the Earth is warming. Unfortunately, he got the facts wrong in the same way that Homer Simpson got global warming wrong eight years ago.
“Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming,” tweeted President Trump, referring to the record low temperatures on the East Coast of the United States as 2017 comes to a close. On Thursday, President Trump’s hometown of New York City experienced a low temperature of 11 degrees Fahrenheit, far below the historical average low of 29 degrees for that day.
Similarly, in episode 449 of The Simpsons, “O Brother, Where Bart Thou?” Homer tries to rag on Lisa, the household liberal, by pointing out the falling snow as evidence that climate change must not be real.
“Gee Lisa, looks like tomorrow I’ll be shoveling ten feet of ‘global warming,’” says Homer, clearly quite pleased with himself.
“Global warming can cause weather at both extremes — hot and cold,” Lisa calmly explains.
And science is on her side. Most notably, the climate is not the same thing as the weather. A single day of snow or cold here or there, which we’d refer to as weather, doesn’t say much about overall trends, which is what scientists call climate. Just because we still get snow doesn’t mean that the Earth isn’t warming, on average. This is the same scientific fallacy that President Trump seems to either not understand or not care to accurately convey to his followers.
But cold days are not simply outliers when it comes to climate change. They can actually be direct results of climate change, as odd as that sounds. Global climate change has had wide-reaching effects on air currents, ocean waters, and weather patterns. These effects show themselves not just as hotter days in summer or worsening wildfires, but also as more variability in weather events.
While it is really cold outside in a lot of the East Coast states, that does nothing to disprove “good old Global Warming,” as the president puts it. This phrase, an apparent attempt to belittle the notion of climate change, suggests that Homer J. Simpson and President Donald J. Trump possess similar levels of scientific literacy and intellectual honesty.