Tuesday on CNN’s “New Day,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was asked to respond to President Donald Trump’s dismissal of climate change as a reason for Hurricane Michael, which left a path of destruction in the Florida Panhandle last week.
Rubio noted the tendency to assign blame in politics immediately and told co-host Alisyn Camerota that “no one” could blame climate change for Hurricane Michael.
Partial transcript as follows:
CAMEROTA: Senator, I want to talk to you about Hurricane Michael. Obviously, your state, Florida, has been so affected and it’s been so adversely affected by climate change. The sea level is rising. Hurricanes seem to be increasing or intensifying. And I just want to play for you what President Trump said when he was questioned this weekend by Lesley Stahl about his thoughts now on climate change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I’m not denying climate change, but it could very well go back. You know, we’re talking about over millions of years.
LESLEY STAHL, “60 MINUTES”: Well, that’s denying it.
TRUMP: They say that we had hurricanes that were far worse than what we just had with Michael.
STAHL: Who says that, “They say”? You mean the people on the phone?
TRUMP: Well, people say — people say that in the —
STAHL: Yes, but what about the scientists who say it’s worse than ever?
TRUMP: You’d have to show me the scientists because they have a very big political agenda, Lesley.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Senator, are you satisfied with that answer? Would you like him to take a different stance?
RUBIO: Well, here’s what I will tell you. First of all, we have this tendency in American politics as soon as something terrible happens, to figure out, who can we blame and what’s at fault so we can create the political angle to it. No one can tell you, I don’t care who they are, that this particular hurricane happened because of any changes in the climate.
Number two, as far as climate change is concerned, that is a measurable. You can measure what temperatures are. You can measure the sea level rise. It is rising. And we know that these are some of the hottest months we’ve had in recorded history and the like. But as a policymaker, which is what the president does, as well as being an executive and what we do, the question is, what can we do about it? I know we can adapt to it. There are things we need to do for adaptation. I know we need to mitigate against it. The building codes, the higher sea walls and the like.
And there there’s this talk about, how can we change our energy policy to reverse some of this? And that’s where I think we get ourselves into a problem because none of these measures — all of these measures that are being talked about have significant economic impact and it’s not clear they have any sort of immediate or short-term impact, particularly because other countries on that may not necessarily follow suit.
This is a nuanced and complicated issue. And to just talk — and to just act like if we had banned all oil and gas and just gone to solar and wind in this country that the hurricane wouldn’t have happened, I do think — I’m not saying that’s what you’re saying, but I do think that argument is a misleading one. Hurricanes are a fact of life. Andrew happened in ’92, devastated south Florida. We’ve had hurricanes that have hit the state repeatedly forever. We know — you go back to the Native Americans that were in Florida during that time and hurricanes hitting them was a big part of their lure because they happened.
But that said, yes, the sea level is higher and getting higher, temperatures are warmer. And, as a policymaker, we’ve got to adapt to that. We’ve got to mitigate against that. And we’ve got to have a serious conversation about whether what percentage of that is due to human activity and what laws or policies can we change that do not destroy our economy but address those factors. It’s a complicated issue. It’s not a sound bite.
CAMEROTA: For sure. For sure. And, I mean, you say that the conversation always turns to assigning blame. And I hear you. Obviously, that’s where we are in our political culture. But, you know, people also are trying to fix it. They’re trying to come up with a solution. And so I’m just wondering if you think that the president’s stance where he says vague things like, well, they say that hurricanes — worse hurricanes have happened. If you think that that goes in any way towards fixing this problem?
RUBIO: No — yes, I do. I think, ultimately, for someone who says that he doesn’t — I think part of that is he basically had said he didn’t think it was a hoax, you would see where someone would be helpful in doing some of the adaptation that we need to do. We need — one of the reasons why we want to start — look, here’s the bottom line. If insurance companies believe that the climate is changing and as a result, it’s going to create more and stronger hurricanes down the road, then we all have to believe it because we’re going to have higher premiums and we have to adjust to that. That’s why we have to improve building codes and do all sorts of work in infrastructure to adapt to that new reality. We’re going to have to do it from a an economic perspective. And I don’t think anything the president says runs counter to that.
The broader question of what we can do, what percentage of that change is cyclical and what percentage of that change is manmade, that’s a complicated question. Even scientists still grapple with that. They can say it was the leading cause. They can’t tell you if it’s 50 percent of it or 80 percent of it.
RUBIO: But the most important part of it is, what laws can we change right now that would have an immediate impact in the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years, because America’s not a planet. That’s a complicated question. And some people act like, oh, we know the answer to it. If you just do these things, this will all stop. No, it won’t. No, it won’t. And it will have an economic cost. There’s a difficult balancing act there, but adaptation and mitigation I absolutely think what the president said would be supportive of that.
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