President Donald Trump said Thursday that Hurricanes Irma and Harvey were not bigger than past storms and refused to answer questions about climate change.
Trump frequently touted the strength and intensity of both storms before they made landfall earlier this month, but appeared to downplay their size Thursday, telling reporters on Air Force One that “we’ve had bigger.”
He was returning from a meeting with Mexican President Peña Nieto. Both world leaders commiserated about their countries’ recent natural disaster and expressed their mutual condolences. Mexico suffered a magnitude 8.2 earthquake Sept. 8 that destroyed buildings and killed more than 90 people.
Trump declined to answer when reporters asked him if Irma and Harvey have shifted his position on climate change. He called man-made global warming a “bullshit” hoax cooked by the Chinese to hurt American businesses. He has since shifted his position, according to U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.
“President Trump believes the climate is changing. And he believes pollutants are part of that equation,” Haley told CNN in an interview earlier this year. She was responding to questions from reporters about Trump’s decision in June to leave the Paris climate agreement.
Warmer water and air temperatures, as well as extremely low air pressure systems, can produce the energy needed for any storm to become a massive hurricane in the Atlantic. Without that dynamic, hurricanes would be nothing more than large storms.
Scientists have urged caution about drawing any kind of conclusions from the processes at work.
Many of them are asking media talking heads and journalists to avoid making any direct links between global warming and the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, along with other natural disasters. They argue that the data is not clear on the issue.
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