(Updated to include AP interview, Oct 18, 2018)
Climate change is coming at Trump even as he tries like hell to avoid the subject. Record setting hurricanes, Florence and Michael, have caused devastation across the southeast United States. Meanwhile, the grim UN IPCC “1.5 degree” report pushed climate scientists into the headlines last week while Trump was out and about, apparently unleashed, talking to media.
Leslie Stahl of 60 Minutes, got the first big sit down interview and went at climate change right off the bat. Pivoting off Hurricane Michael and the IPCC report, Stahl pressed Trump to answer straight questions about climate change. This is the most Trump has been forced to say on the subject of global warming since his Rose Garden celebration announcing that the US would exit the Paris climate agreement, where he managed to barely mention climate change.
“Somethings changing and it’ll change back again.”
“And you don’t know whether or not that would have happened with or without man. You don’t know.”
“We have scientists that disagree with that [anthropogenic climate change].”
“But it [climate change] could very well go back.”
“But I don’t know that it’s [climate change] manmade.”
“They say that we had hurricanes that were far worse than what we just had with Michael.”
“You’d have to show me the scientists because they have a very big political agenda, Lesley.”
Trump also deployed a empty economic argument against taking action, one commonly used by deniers:
“I will say this. I don’t wanna give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t wanna lose millions and millions of jobs. I don’t wanna be put at a disadvantage.”
Full 60 Minutes interview transcript.
Deniers Would Rather Trump Said Nothing
Trump said a couple of things the deniers don’t really want him to say, including:
“I don’t think it’s a hoax” and “I’m not denying climate change.”
Joe Bast, former CEO of the Heartland Institute, and his climate denier kin are happiest when the President doesn’t talk about it at all. A year ago, Bast provided his reason for applauding the President’s silence, quoted and memorialized in the video below:
“The President has done a great job by not talking about global warming. The less the President talks about it, the less often it appears in news stories and on TV, the less often its going to be an issue. So, this is how big issues disappear.“
Trump Questioned on Climate by Reporters in Georgia While Touring Hurricane Damage
Predictions for Hurricane Michael went from a predicted Category 1 on Oct 7th to making landfall at just below Cat 5 three days later, surprising meteorologists and foiling predictive computer models.
While touring areas damaged by the massive storm in Georgia on Monday, reporters continued to press Trump on climate change and he continued trying to change the subject and inform us that he has “the cleanest air on the planet.””
AP Interview- Trump’s says he has a “natural instinct for science”
In an Associated Press interview on Tuesday, White House reporters Catherine Lucey, Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire got Trump talking again on climate change. (Nice work reporters!) Using many of the same lines he used in the 60 Minutes interview, as if scripted, Trump repeatedly stated that there are “scientists on both sides” (underlined below) and downplayed the severity of Hurricane Michael. In addition to bragging about being an environmentalist, Trump also talked about his uncle, Dr. John Trump, an MIT Professor and high voltage energy expert, from whom Trump somehow thinks he inherited “a natural instinct for science.”
TRANSCRIPT EXCERPT (bold & underline emphasis added)
AP: In your interview with ’60 Minutes’ over the weekend, you were asked about climate change, and you said you believe it, but that also, it could go back. And one of the things … (crosstalk)
Trump: I said the worst hurricane was 50 years ago, far worse than what this one was. Then, in 1890, they had one that was even worse. This was No. 3 or 4 or 5. We had worse hurricanes in 1890, we had worse, a worse hurricane 50 years ago. We’ve gone through a period, actually, fairly recently, where we have very few. I live in Florida to a large extent and spend a lot of time in Florida, and we had a period of time where we went years without having any major problem. And then you have a problem and it goes in cycles, and I want absolutely crystal clear water and I want the cleanest air on the planet and our air now is cleaner than it’s ever been. Very important to me. But what I’m not willing to do is sacrifice the economic well-being of our country for something that nobody really knows. And you have scientists on both sides of the issue. And I agree the climate changes, but it goes back and forth, back and forth. So we’ll see.
I mean, you know, I am a person that believes very, very strongly in the environment. I am truly an environmentalist. I know some people might not think of me as that, but I’m an environmentalist. Everything I want and everything I have is clean. Clean is very important — water, air. But I also want jobs for our country. And if we would have, as an example, entered certain agreements with other countries, I actually think that we’re doing it so they could have an economic advantage. Because we would have had a tremendous— we would have been at a tremendous economic disadvantage if we entered into certain agreements.
AP: But scientists say this is nearing a point where this can’t be reversed.
Trump: No, no. Some say that and some say differently. I mean, you have scientists on both sides of it. My uncle was a great professor at MIT for many years. Dr. John Trump. And I didn’t talk to him about this particular subject, but I have a natural instinct for science, and I will say that you have scientists on both sides of the picture.
OK, what’s next?”
“OK, what’s next?” may be the best line. Translation: can we talk about something else please…how many times can I say “scientists on both sides” and did I tell you about my uncle?
(Updated to include AP interview, Oct 18, 2018)