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'Science is science,' says frustrated Obama on climate change

The president stated that for the rest of his term he'll aim to shift public opinion, which he hopes will help him shift policy.
President Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at Eisenhower Executive Office Building May 13, 2014 in Washington, DC.

“Science is science.”

That’s how President Barack Obama sums up climate change in an interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, which was printed in the Times on Sunday and will air on Showtime’s Years of Living Dangerously on Monday.

But Congress is Congress, too. So, Friedman asks, do you ever want to just go off on members of Congress who deny that climate change is man-made and destructive?

“Yeah, absolutely,” he said with a laugh. “Look, it’s frustrating when the science is in front of us...We can argue about how. But let’s not argue about what’s going on. The science is compelling... The baseline fact of climate change is not something we can afford to deny. And if you profess leadership in this country at this moment in our history, then you’ve got to recognize this is going to be one of the most significant long-term challenges, if not the most significant long-term challenge, that this country faces and that the planet faces.”

Obama’s remarks come on the heels of his announced plan to curb carbon emissions by nearly a third—a big step that Republicans are already lining up to protest.

“The good news is that the public may get out ahead of some of their politicians,” Obama said, suggesting that as people see the effects of weather disasters like hurricanes and droughts, they might begin to change their minds.

“Those start multiplying, then people start thinking, ‘You know what? We’re going to reward politicians who talk to us honestly and seriously about this problem,’” he said.

The president stated that for the rest of his term he'll aim to shift public opinion, which he hopes will help him shift policy.

“Part of my job over these next two and a half years and beyond is trying to shift public opinion. And the way to shift public opinion is to really focus in on the fact that if we do nothing our kids are going to be worse off,” he said. 

As the president has ramped up his attempts to curb climate change, progressive groups have amped up their attacks on climate change deniers, too.

Americans United for Change released a YouTube ad last week challenging Republicans who say they are "not a scientist" but deny climate change all the same.

“The GOP’s new talking point when challenged on climate change is ‘I’m no scientist,’ and yet they remain 100% certain…that 97% of the scientific community is pulling a fast one on us all for no explicable reason," Jeremy Funk, a spokesman for Americans United for Change, said in a statement.