President Donald Trump is in the position to do a lot of good or a lot of bad to our planet, and what kind of role he'll play in climate change stems entirely from what he believes.
On Tuesday, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough challenged the president's climate change skepticism in an interview with the Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt on "Morning Joe."
The other hosts initially posed the question of Trump and climate change to Pruitt and asked whether or not it had come up in their conversations about exiting the Paris climate agreement. When Pruitt began reciting the White House's media script on this subject, Scarborough interrupted the interview to ask him point-blank what the president believed when it came to global warming.
"Mr. Pruitt, it's a simple question," he said. "Have you ever talked to the president about whether he believes climate change is real? Does he still believe that it was a hoax launched in China? Wouldn't you like to know?"
Pruitt shrugged off the question as unimportant and insisted that when the president makes international environmental decisions he will "put America's interests first." He tried to continue the interview, but Scarborough was far from ready to let the head of the EPA off the hook.
“Right, I understand that, and I agree with that...,” Scarborough interjected. “We should always put America first. I disagree with getting out of Paris because it’s voluntary. The goals set were voluntary. But I just want — again — it's important for Americans to know whether their president believes that global warming was hatched as a conspiracy theory in China. Doesn’t that matter to you?””
Pruitt answered that the Paris climate accord would force the EPA to impose restrictions on energy production that would negatively impact American industry, an economic argument that the Trump administration has leaned on heavily and remains dangerously shortsighted in this age of global warming.
Those who don't see climate change as the urgent threat it is have entertained this argument for far too long, and Scarborough's exasperation with Pruitt was evident.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry — I’ve got to stop,” Scarborough interrupted. “I want to stop it. This interview has to stop in its tracks until I just get a yes-no answer from you on whether you believe it’s important that Americans find out whether their president believes that climate change is a conspiracy theory based out of China.”
"I mean, the president has indicated, Joe, that the climate is changing,” Pruitt finally said. “... there’s a human contribution to it. Measuring that with precision is very difficult.”
Pruitt's response was twofold. While he said that he and Trump recognize the Earth is warming and that there is a human impact, he leaves it open-ended as to how serious they take this temperature rise and impact to be. He then goes on to discuss a stagnant, wishy-washy solution generally favored by those in the GOP who refuse to say outright they don't believe in climate change.
His remark stresses industry and innovation in the vaguest terms and does little to detail how these things will actually combat global warming. It's a lot of talk without really saying anything at all, and sometimes, that says everything.