President Donald Trump dismissed U.S. government scientists’ predictions that climate change will impose devastating economic costs.
“I don’t believe it,” Trump told reporters Monday on the White House lawn, when asked about the grim forecast in the government’s National Climate Assessment. “Right now, we’re the cleanest we’ve ever been.”
The analysis, compiled by government scientists and issued Friday, warns that the U.S. could shoulder hundreds of billions of dollars in costs from unchecked climate change, as floodwaters swamp coastal communities and droughts devastate crops. All told, climate change could pare a tenth of U.S. gross domestic product by the end of the century, according to the congressionally mandated assessment.
Trump said he had “seen” the report and “read some of it -- and it’s fine.” He also pointed out that it focused on the climate change consequences that would be borne by the U.S. -- even though it is a global problem.
“If we’re clean, but every other place on earth is dirty, that’s not so good,” Trump said. “So I want clean air, I want clean water -- very important.”
It’s not the first time that Trump has discounted the consequences -- or cause -- of climate change. On Wednesday, Trump questioned the existence of global warming by citing the Arctic blast chilling the Northeast U.S. “Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS — Whatever happened to Global Warming?” he posted on Twitter.
His administration, at the same time, is rolling back an array of government regulations meant to pare carbon dioxide emissions that result from burning fossil fuels and drive climate change.
Environmentalists pounced on Trump’s comments, with Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune accusing the president of disregarding science.
“Trump is ignoring the alarm bells to protect our country from climate change, yet at the same time he is building sea walls in Scotland to protect his golf course from the rising sea,’ Brune said by email. “Trump needs to pull his head out of his sand trap right now because the climate won’t give us a mulligan.”
Government authorities reportedly gave permission for the construction of sea walls around a Trump-branded golf course in Scotland last year. Across the globe, coastal communities could be inundated as a warming planet elevates sea levels. And according to the government’s climate assessment, Americans are already paying for the cost of rising seas. In 2016, the Obama administration gave $48 million to Louisiana to move a village inland.
”Unlike President Trump, we trust the experts at NASA, the Department of Defense, and 10 other federal agencies who reviewed and endorsed this report,” Keith Gaby, a senior communications director with the Environmental Defense Fund, said by email. “Mr. Trump is hiding from the facts, and failing in his responsibility to protect the American people.”
Brenda Ekwurzel, one of the report’s authors, said there’s ample evidence of rising costs from recent western wildfires, droughts and hurricanes.
“It is no surprise that the fourth National Climate Assessment concludes that these climate-related impacts will only get worse and their costs will mount dramatically if carbon emissions continue unabated,” said Ekwurzel, the director of climate science at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Annual losses in some sectors are projected to exceed $100 billion by the end of the century and surpass the gross domestic product of many states.”