Give Donald Trump credit for consistency. The Republican presidential front-runner repeatedly has said he isn’t “a believer” that humans have played a significant role in the Earth’s changing climate. He said as much in an interview with talk show host Hugh Hewitt last year. He told “Fox & Friends” earlier this year that climate change “is just a very, very expensive form of tax. A lot of people are making a lot of money.”
In his own tweets, Trump has called the concept of global warming everything from a “hoax” to “bulls—” to a scheme “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” (He later said he was joking about the China tweet).
Trump’s stance on climate change, of course, puts him at odds with the vast majority of the world’s scientists, who agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are likely a result of human activity and are playing out in the form of rising seas, growing carbon dioxide emissions and melting glaciers.
In a wide-ranging meeting Monday with The Washington Post editorial board, Trump again dismissed man-made climate change. Instead, he said the type of climate change we should worry most about is nuclear weapons — an apparent reference to Cold War-era fears over a “nuclear winter.” The idea was that a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union could have devastating consequences for the environment. Scientists say the potential threat still exists, particularly with more countries now possessing nuclear weapons, though it remains a less immediate threat than the constant pollution humans send into the environment.
Below is a transcript of the climate change exchange, which came toward the end of Trump’s visit Monday to The Post:
FRED HIATT, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Last one: You think climate change is a real thing? Is there human-caused climate change?
DONALD TRUMP: I think there’s a change in weather. I am not a great believer in man-made climate change. I’m not a great believer. There is certainly a change in weather that goes – if you look, they had global cooling in the 1920s and now they have global warming, although now they don’t know if they have global warming. They call it all sorts of different things; now they’re using “extreme weather” I guess more than any other phrase. I am not – I know it hurts me with this room, and I know it’s probably a killer with this room – but I am not a believer. Perhaps there’s a minor effect, but I’m not a big believer in man-made climate change.
STEPHEN STROMBERG, EDITORIAL WRITER: Don’t good businessmen hedge against risks, not ignore them?
TRUMP: Well, I just think we have much bigger risks. I mean I think we have militarily tremendous risks. I think we’re in tremendous peril. I think our biggest form of climate change we should worry about is nuclear weapons. The biggest risk to the world, to me – I know President Obama thought it was climate change – to me the biggest risk is nuclear weapons. That’s – that is climate change. That is a disaster, and we don’t even know where the nuclear weapons are right now. We don’t know who has them. We don’t know who’s trying to get them. The biggest risk for this world and this country is nuclear weapons, the power of nuclear weapons.
FREDERICK RYAN JR., WASHINGTON POST PUBLISHER: Thank you for joining us.
You can listen to audio of Trump’s full meeting with The Post below. The exchange about climate change begins at 1:02:15: