DAVOS: President Donald Trump tore into environmental “prophets of doom” at the Davos forum on Tuesday, rejecting fiery warnings from teenage campaigner Greta Thunberg, and lauding the “unprecedented” US economy just hours ahead of his impeachment trial back home.
Thunberg was in the audience in the Swiss Alps to hear the typically bullish speech by Trump, delivered shortly before the US Senate was to open the crucial next stage in his trial for abuse of power and obstruction.
The 50th meeting of the World Economic Forum aimed for a strong focus on climate change but Trump made clear he had no time for Thunberg’s warning that “our house is still on fire”. “We must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse,” said Trump, complaining that “they want to see us do badly”.
He claimed that “alarmists” had been wrong over the decades when predicting population crisis, mass starvation or the end of oil.
Trump branded those warning of out-of-control global warming and other environmental disasters “the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers”.
The scathing assessment came just after Switzerland’s president, Simonetta Sommaruga, made an emotional appeal for saving the health of an ailing planet on the same stage.
By contrast, Trump did not even mention global warming, a phenomenon that nearly all climate scientists say is dangerously accelerating, with possibly devastating results for humanity.
Trump was just as unapologetic over his impeachment, which is now kicking into high gear.
He said in Davos he was working for American investment, meeting “the most important people in the world and we’re bringing back tremendous business”.
“The other’s just a hoax,” he said of the “disgraceful” impeachment trial.
Robin Niblett, director of the Chatham House think tank, called Trump’s performance “an almost plain vanilla presidential campaign speech, laying out an unassailable set of statistics that tell the Democrats ‘good luck taking me on this, because you won’t stand a chance.”
Earlier, Thunberg underlined the message that has inspired millions around the world, saying “basically nothing has been done” to fight climate change.
“It will require much more than this. This is just the very beginning,” the 17-year-old said.
Speaking calmly and with a wry smile, Thunberg acknowledged that her campaign, which began with school strikes, had attracted huge attention without yet achieving concrete change.
“There is a difference between being heard to actually leading to something,” she said.
Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2020