When “Axios on HBO” interviewed Trump last week, one goal was to get him to reckon with his own government’s scientific findings, which unequivocally state that global warming is nearly entirely caused by humans.
We thought it might be harder to dismiss the science if we showed him his own administration's most comprehensive report.
Why it matters: We were wrong. Trump disputed that report, said he hadn’t seen it and indicated that the climate goes up and down.
These comments, the first on this report, are among the most extreme he’s made dismissing a scientific issue nearly all other world leaders take seriously.
The intrigue: Trump was shown a copy of the National Climate Assessment, a federally mandated report the Trump administration released without fanfare, or interference, last November. He dismissed it and said he didn't read it.
“Is there climate change? Yeah. Will it go back like this, I mean will it change back? Probably,” Trump said, making a wave motion with his hand.
Reality check: The report is the most comprehensive and up-to-date assessment published by the entire federal government, from NASA to the EPA. It concludes that "there is no convincing alternative explanation" for the global warming observed, other than human causes.
- It also concludes that only steep reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can alter the upward trajectory of air and ocean temperatures and their related impacts.
- The president has not repeated his often-cited 2012 Twitter comment that he thinks climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese, but he is still far outside the mainstream of scientists and other world leaders.
Click here to read more reality checks of what Trump said in the interview.
What's next: Trump is unlikely to change his tune on climate change while in the White House, but not all Republicans share his position. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Republican incumbent in Florida, readily acknowledges climate change and has even introduced carbon tax legislation.
- He's considered an early indicator of how the GOP is evolving, but he may not be in Congress much longer. He's locked in a tight re-election race, and odds are, he'll lose.