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Trump/climate

Donald Trump keeps telling us he has made the U.S. military the strongest it has been in history and as a result he's made America safer today than it's ever been.

He likes to accuse former President Barack Obama of devastating the country's armed services even though defense spending increased significantly during Obama's eight years. Trump contends that he has turned that around just as he's turned around the economy which, ironically, was just as strong under Obama as it is under Trump.

But making outlandish claims is something that Trump does, even though the facts may be those "alternative" ones that Kellyanne Conway invents.

Let's be honest, though: The United States is far from safe, and that has little to do with the military and everything to do with Donald Trump.

It was spelled out on Black Friday last week, the day the Trump administration released that devastating scientific report on the environment and what it means for the long-term economic health — and safety — of the American people.

The report, written by scientists in Trump's own administration, forecasts rising seas that could drive millions of Americans inland, decreases in ocean oxygen levels that will kill coral reefs and deplete fishing, warming temperatures that will expand the territory of harmful bugs, and continuing increases in severe weather that will causes bridges, roads and rails to crumble and forests to burn.

There will be shortages of water, particularly in the American West, while the Midwest will experience heavier rains that will harm crops and return the quality of corn and soybeans to the level known in the 1980s.

It's no wonder the White House issued the report the Friday after Thanksgiving while most people were out shopping or bidding farewell to relatives and friends who had visited for the holiday.

You might have thought, though, that the report from some of the country's top climate scientists might have convinced Trump to temper his views about global warming and the danger it poses, especially since the report also predicted that the dangers could easily cause a 10 percent drop in the nation's gross domestic product, a percentage even greater than what the Great Depression of the 1930s did to the economy.

But no, Trump still isn't budging, and he announced to the world that he doesn't believe the report — especially the part about the 10 percent drop in the GDP. Think of the devastation to today's economy if we imposed environmental regulations that would hurt business interests and result in people losing jobs, he implied.

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Despite the alarm bells the report set off, it's clear that Trump is OK with dropping out of the Paris climate treaty, rolling back Environmental Protection Agency regulations to reduce man-made pollution and ending restrictions on greenhouse gases from fossil fuel power plants, just for starters.

A letter writer to The New York Times calculated that over 3,000 Americans have been lost to violent hurricanes and wildfires in recent years, which will increase if we don't tackle the problem. Just think what water shortages alone will do.

America safer under Trump? Hardly. The dangers the country faces aren't primarily military ones, but are brought on by a man who has his head buried in the sand. His legacy will challenge that of Rome's Nero.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com608-252-6410 and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.  

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Dave is editor emeritus of The Capital Times.