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Asked about climate crisis, Trump questions scientists' 'agenda'

The White House says it wants to look at the climate crisis "in a level headed and analytic way." If only Donald Trump agreed.
President Donald Trump speaks about the US role in the Paris climate change accord in the Rose Garden, Thursday, June 1, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo...

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to advise world leaders on addressing the climate crisis, released a rather terrifying report two weeks ago. As the New York Times  explained, the landmark report "paints a far more dire picture of the immediate consequences of climate change than previously thought and says that avoiding the damage requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has 'no documented historic precedent.'"

As we discussed last week, the document was written and edited by dozens of scientists from dozens of countries, who collectively analyzed more than 6,000 scientific studies.

Asked yesterday about the findings, Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, "Personally I think the U.N. study is -- is over -- way, way too difficult. I won't say it's a scare tactic, but I think they overestimate." Kudlow has no scientific background. He's not in a credible position to question the scholars' work.

Kudlow added, however, "I think we should look at this in a level headed and analytic way."

At face value, that may seem heartening -- I like looking at issues in a level headed and analytic way, too -- but there are a couple of areas of concern. For one thing, the scientists who worked with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change did their work in the way Kudlow recommended.

For another, Kudlow's boss doesn't seem at all interested in examining the climate crisis in a level headed and analytic way. Consider this exchange between Donald Trump and CBS News' Lesley Stahl and Donald Trump on "60 Minutes" last night.

STAHL: Do you still think that climate change is a hoax?TRUMP: I think something's happening. Something's changing and it'll change back again. I don't think it's a hoax, I think there's probably a difference. But I don't know that it's man-made. I will say this. I don't wanna give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don't wanna lose millions and millions of jobs. I don't wanna be put at a disadvantage. [...]TRUMP: You'd have to show me the scientists because they have a very big political agenda, Lesley.STAHL: I can't bring them in.TRUMP: Look, scientists also have a political agenda.

It'd be less frustrating if the threat weren't so severe.

I'd love to hear the president elaborate on what he thinks the scientists' "agenda" is all about. If there's some kind of conspiracy involving climate researchers, what exactly does he think is happening? Dozens of leading scientists from dozens of countries are doing ... what? To what end?

As for Trump's concerns about the economic impact of addressing the crisis, it's worth keeping in mind that the president isn't just wrong about the facts, he's also failing to acknowledge the simple fact that food shortages, intensifying disasters, and the threat of international instability won't exactly be great for domestic job creation.