President Donald Trump has been a long-time climate change denier, suggesting that the concept was “created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.” But, in an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes last night he backed away slightly from these claims, saying he no longer believes the warming of the planet is a hoax.
“I’m not denying climate change,” Trump told interviewer Lesley Stahl.
At the same time, though, Trump suggested that climate change might not be caused by humans; that he did not want to take any action that would harm the American economy; and that the warming of the planet by industrial emissions would reverse of its own accord.
“I think something’s happening. Something’s changing and it’ll change back again,” said Trump. “I don’t think it’s a hoax. I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s manmade. I will say this: I don’t want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs.”
A recent landmark report on climate change from the United Nations spelled out the dire consequences of the planet’s warming. If emissions continue to rise at their current rate, the planet will warm by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) by 2040, leading to extreme heat waves, reduced rainfall, and frequent coastal flooding. This in turn could lead to waves of climate refugees which might destabilize governments.
The authors of the UN report said immediate action was needed to prevent the current rise, including taxes on carbon emissions and getting rid of coal energy. Trump, meanwhile, has repeatedly said he wants to burn more coal, and promised that he will withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord, the largest international treaty set to reduce emissions.
One expected result of climate change is an increase in the intensity of hurricanes and tornadoes. When asked about the recent damage in Georgia and Florida caused by Hurricane Michael, Trump suggested there were “far worse than what we just had.”
When Stahl cited scientists who report that extreme weather is getting worse, Trump replied: “You’d have to show me the scientists because they have a very big political agenda.”