Trump administration doubles down on climate skepticism

Trump administration doubles down on climate skepticism
© Stefani Reynolds

The Trump administration is doubling down on its questioning of whether climate change is man-made and its belief that scientists who think otherwise may have a political agenda.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate GOP budget ignores Trump, cuts defense Trump says he'll nominate Stephen Moore to Fed White House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated MORE in an interview with "60 Minutes" that aired late Sunday said he believes “something” is happening with global warming, but added that he thinks it’s likely the trend will revert or “go back.”

“I think something's happening. Something's changing and it'll change back again. I don't think it's a hoax, I think there's probably a difference. But I don't know that it's man-made,” Trump said.

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Trump also said he didn’t believe that Hurricane Michael — which hit Florida's Gulf Coast as a Category 4 last week — was linked to climate change, despite scientists connecting warming waters to stronger storms.

“I’m not denying climate change. But it could very well go back. You know, we're talking about over a millions of years. They say that we had hurricanes that were far worse than what we just had with Michael,” Trump said.

Trump has gone back and forth over the course of his public career on the issue of climate change. But since running for president in 2016, he has stuck to the position that it's not clear humans are responsible for rising global temperatures.

Asked why he didn’t believe the opinions of scientists, many of whom work for the federal government at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA, the president said on "60 Minutes" that he was skeptical of scientific findings.

“You'd have to show me the scientists because they have a very big political agenda,” Trump said.

Speaking on a series of shows earlier Sunday, White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow echoed similar sentiments that the cause of climate change is not known.

I’m not denying any climate change issues,” Kudlow told ABC's "This Week." “I’m just saying do we know precisely, and I mean worth modeling, how much of it is man-made, how much of it is solar, how much of it is oceanic, how much of it is rainforest and other issues. I think we’re still exploring all of that."

Last week, the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a dire report that found the world needs to decrease carbon emissions by 45 percent by the year 2030 to avoid catastrophic consequences.

Without dramatic emissions cuts, the world faces significant sea-level rise, water shortages, coral reef die-offs and loss of habitat range for species by 2030, the report forecast.

Scientists are nearly unanimous in their belief that humans largely contribute to greenhouse gas emissions — the main source of climate change

Kudlow, however, said he disagreed with the report's warnings and didn’t feel it was necessary to enact swift action.

“I don’t think we should panic," the White House economic adviser said. "I don’t think there’s an imminent disaster coming, but I think we should look at this in a level-headed and analytic way."

Kudlow also called the IPCC report "too difficult."

"Personally, I think the U.N. study ... is ... way, way too difficult. I won’t say it’s a scare tactic, but I think they overestimate."

Responding to the IPCC report, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week issued a statement that said the findings were only the “responsibility of its authors.”

“In accordance with IPCC procedures, the report and its contents remain the responsibility of its authors. Governments do not formally endorse specific findings presented by the authors,” an EPA spokesperson said.

The report was commissioned at the behest of the countries involved in the Paris climate agreement. Trump announced last year that he would be pulling the U.S. out of the landmark agreement.