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'I Don’t Believe It’: Trump Rejects U.S. Government Climate Report

Climate
Donald Trump returns to the White House from Mississippi early Tuesday morning. Alex Wong / Getty Images

President Donald Trump has dismissed a report released by his own government Friday that warned climate change could kill thousands of Americans each year and slash the GDP by more than 10 percent by 2100.

"I don't believe it," Trump replied when asked by reporters outside the White House Monday about the "devastating" economic impacts predicted by the report.


Trump: 'I don't believe' gov't climate report youtu.be

The report, Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, is the work of 13 federal agencies and 300 leading scientists. It states unequivocally that climate change is happening, is human-caused and will get worse if we don't take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"Climate-related risks will continue to grow without additional action," the report authors wrote. "Decisions made today determine risk exposure for current and future generations and will either broaden or limit options to reduce the negative consequences of climate change."

But Trump did not appear to take it as motivation for new policy in his statement to reporters. He instead focused on what he thought other countries should do.

"You're going to have to have China, and Japan, and all of Asia and all of these other countries ... You know, it addresses our country," he said. "Right now we're at the cleanest we've ever been, and it's very important to me. But if we're clean, but every other place on earth is dirty, that's not so good. So I want clean air, I want clean water, very important."

In his remarks, Trump seemed to confuse climate warming greenhouse gas emissions with air and water pollution, but the two are related, in that climate change is already making America's air worse.

Air quality in San Francisco, Los Angeles and other California cities hovered between "unhealthy" and "very unhealthy" for more than a week this month because of smoke from deadly wildfires that California Governor Jerry Brown linked to climate change. The report predicts that air quality will only get worse if we fail to cut back on fossil fuels and the area burned by fires each year increases.

The report found that clean water is also at risk from global warming, The Daily Beast reported. Coastal flooding from sea level rise, strange pollination patterns and the displacement of communities will all increase water pollution.

Trump's remarks are in keeping with earlier statements. A month ago, he dismissed the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that urged unprecedented action for keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by casting doubt on the motivations of the scientists involved. "Who drew it?" he asked.

In a segment Monday, Anderson Cooper pointed to a pattern for discussing climate change that Trump has followed since 2014: "Namely, deny it exists, and just talk vaguely about clean air and water."

Anderson Cooper to Trump: Weather and climate are different youtu.be

Trump's aggressive climate denialism makes it hard for other Republicans to address the issue, USA Today reported. Few Republican lawmakers acknowledged Friday's report, and those that did either dismissed it or called only for vague solutions like "innovation" that would not disrupt the economy.

"All the proposals I've seen so far that would address any of these issues would devastate the U.S. economy and have little or no benefit that is demonstrable from our standpoint," Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee told NBC's "Meet The Press," as USA Today reported.

Bob Inglis, a former South Carolina Republican Congressmen whose nonprofit republicEn tries to shift the conservative stance on climate action, said Trump's stance put a damper on the party's action now, but could actually help it shift once a new president is elected.

"In a strange sort of way he may help us, because when he leaves office he's going to take climate disputation with him ... It's going to be so closely identified with him," Inglis told WNYC radio Monday, as USA Today reported. Once White House leadership changes, that might "let the adults in the room and the Americans who believe in solutions get with it."

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That's the conclusion of a new study from think tank Autonomy, which found that Germany, the UK and Sweden all needed to drastically reduce their workweeks to fight climate change.

"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."

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The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.

The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.

"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."

Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.

"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."

Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.

"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."

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