Trump Says His 'Very High Levels of Intelligence' Means He Can't Believe in Climate Change, Scientists Despair

Scientists have reacted with dismay to President Donald Trump's assertion that he was not among the "believers" in the seriousness of climate change.

His administration released a dense report compiled by 13 federal agencies last week that painted a bleak picture of the severity of the impact of climate change on the lives of Americans, and the U.S. economy.

But Trump dismissed it.

"One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we're not necessarily such believers," Trump told The Washington Post in an interview in the Oval Office.

President Donald Trump after returning to the White House from a trip to Mississippi, November 27. He said that he did not believe in the climate change warnings sounded by a White House report. Alex Wong/Getty Images

"As to whether or not it's man-made and whether or not the effects that you're talking about are there, I don't see it," he said, doubling down on his initial reaction to the National Climate Assessment report on Monday, when he said: "I don't believe it."

He said that American air and water was "right now at a record clean" and criticized the environmental records of China, South America and Russia, where "the air is incredibly dirty, and when you're talking about an atmosphere, oceans are very small.

"And it blows over and it sails over. I mean we take thousands of tons of garbage off our beaches all the time that comes over from Asia. It just flows right down the Pacific. It flows and we say: 'Where does this come from?' And it takes many people, to start off with."

The White House report warned that rising temperatures had already harmed the U.S., and that limiting greenhouse gases would substantially benefit the American economy.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckerbee Sanders described the 1,600 page report as "not data-driven" and that "we'd like to see something that is more data-driven. It's based on modeling, which is extremely hard to do when you're talking about the climate."

But Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University, called the president's comments "idiotic," The Post reported.

And Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, told The Post: "Facts aren't something we need to believe to make them true, we treat them as optional at our peril.

"And if we're the president of the United States, we do so at the peril of not just ourselves but the hundreds of millions of people we're responsible for."