President Donald Trump said he had "very high levels of intelligence" and, as such, did not believe in the scientific consensus on climate change in an interview with The Washington Post published on Tuesday.
"One of the problems that many people like me, we have very high levels of intelligence, but we are not necessarily so believers," said Trump, speaking with Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker of the Post. "You look at our air and our water and right now we are in a clean place." … As to whether or not it is made by man and if the effects you are talking about are there, I do not see it, it is not as they are ".
Trump's statements, his most recent in a long history of denial of climate change, go against the vast majority of scientists who say that the planet has heated up rapidly since the Industrial Revolution and will continue to do so unless humanity is able to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Without such action, the planet faces a series of devastating effects, including the massive death of coral reefs; an increase in the severity of natural disasters, such as forest fires; and a global economic blow in the trillions of dollars, according to a recent study of the United Nations.
The White House published its own National Climate Assessment on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The 1,656-page report, compiled by 13 federal agencies and more than 300 researchers, painted the darkest portrait of America's future so far, noting that the country had already heated up 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century and warmed up another 3 degrees by 2100 unless the use of fossil fuels is reduced. Predictions even said that warming could approach 9 degrees or more by the end of the century.
Among the threats to health and the environment, the report also warned that sweeping damage would cut up to 10 percent of the US economy.
Trump and his representatives, however, have moved to downplay those conclusions.
"It's not based on facts." It's not based on data, "White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a news conference on Tuesday." We would like to see something that is more data-driven. It's based on modeling. "
Home Secretary Ryan Zinke also moved to review the findings of the report, saying they were based on "the worst scenarios."
The authors of the report have taken Twitter to defend their predictions.
"I wrote the chapter on climate scenarios myself, so I can confirm that it considers ALL of the scenarios, from those in which we become negative carbon before the end of the century to those where carbon emissions continue to increase", Katharine Hayhoe, co-author of the current evaluation and the director of the Center for Climate Science at Texas Tech University, said in a tweet on Friday.
The president has remained steadfast in his anti-climate rhetoric in recent days, even after the devastating Camp fire in northern California left at least 88 dead. Trump toured the city of Paradise, which was incinerated, and said his opinion on climate change had not changed after the visit.
He moved to blame the forest management policies during the visit, even suggesting that "tracking" would help stop the scourge of forest fires, statements he seemed to repeat in his interview with the Post on Tuesday.
"The fire in California, where it was, if you looked at the floor, the fire floor has trees that fell, they did not manage the forest, nor maintenance of the forest, and you can light it, you can take a match like" This and light a trunk tree when that thing stays there for more than 14 or 15 months, "Trump said. "You go to other places where you have denser trees, it's denser, where the trees are more flammable, they do not have forest fires of this kind, because they keep."