Published 5:48 PM EDT Oct 17, 2018
When it comes to understanding science, President Donald Trump says he is a natural.
Trump said he has "a natural instinct for science" during an interview with The Associated Press in which he expressed uncertainty about scientists' climate change concerns.
Trump told AP that there are "scientists on both sides of the issue" when asked about researchers' warning that climate change may already be nearing the stage of becoming irreversible.
"No, no. Some say that and some say differently, I mean you have scientists on both sides of it," the president told the wire service during an Oval Office interview that published Wednesday.
"My uncle was a great professor at MIT for many years. Dr. John Trump. And I didn’t talk to him about this particular subject, but I have a natural instinct for science, and I will say that you have scientists on both sides of the picture," the president said.
Trump told AP that climate change is cyclical, reiterating a belief he expressed during an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" that aired Sunday. "I agree the climate changes, but it goes back and forth, back and forth," he said. "So we’ll see."
Fact check: Donald Trump’s ’60 Minutes’ interview included false, misleading claims
In addition to claiming a natural aptitude for science Trump told AP that he is "truly an environmentalist."
"I know some people might not think of me as that, but I’m an environmentalist," he said. "Everything I want and everything I have is clean. Clean is very important – water, air. But I also want jobs for our country."
He explained that a concern for the potential negative economic impact on the U.S. was one of the reasons he eschewed "certain agreements with other countries," in an apparent reference to the Paris Climate Accords.
The president said in the interview that he is not willing to "sacrifice the economic well-being of our country for something that nobody really knows."
Despite Trump's misgivings, there is general agreement within the scientific community on the issue of climate change.
"Trump might as well be saying that there are scientists on 'both sides of the gravity debate,'" Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann told AP in an email. "Dangerous climate change impacts are already apparent. Of course there are uncertainties. There always are. There are uncertainties in the science of gravity (we have never measured a graviton, the fundamental unit of gravity). That doesn’t make it safe to jump off a cliff."
More: Cheers to this: Beer industry brewing ways to offset climate change effect on beer supply
More: Extreme heat, deluges and economic pain: What the UN climate report says for North America