'I don't think it's a hoax': Trump backs off climate change claim

U.S. President Donald Trump is backing off his claim that climate change is a hoax but says he doesn't know if humans are causing global warming, and he suggests that the climate will "change back again."

But U.S. president says he doesn't know if humans are causing global warming

In an interview with CBS's 60 Minutes that aired Sunday night, U.S. President Donald Trump said he doesn't want to put the United States at a disadvantage in responding to climate change. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

U.S. President Donald Trump is backing off his claim that climate change is a hoax but says he doesn't know if humans are causing global warming, and he suggests that the climate will "change back again."

In an interview with CBS's 60 Minutes that aired Sunday night, Trump said he doesn't want to put the United States at a disadvantage in responding to climate change.

"I think something's happening. Something's changing and it'll change back again," he said. "I don't think it's a hoax. I think there's probably a difference. But I don't know that it's man-made. I will say this: I don't want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don't want to lose millions and millions of jobs."

I'm not denying climate change. But it could very well go back. You know, we're talking about over a … millions of years.— U.S. President Donald Trump

Trump called climate change a hoax in November 2012 when he sent a tweet stating, "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive." He later said he was joking about the Chinese connection, but he has continued to call global warming a hoax.

"I'm not denying climate change," he said in the interview. "But it could very well go back. You know, we're talking about over a … millions of years."

Doubts about hurricanes

As far as the climate "changing back," temperature records kept by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) show that the world hasn't had a cooler-than-average year since 1976 or a cooler-than-normal month since the end of 1985.

Trump, who is scheduled Monday to visit areas of Georgia and Florida damaged by Hurricane Michael, also expressed doubt over scientists' findings linking the changing climate to more powerful hurricanes.

"They say that we had hurricanes that were far worse than what we just had with Michael," said Trump, who identified "they" as "people" after being pressed by 60 Minutes correspondent Leslie Stahl. She asked, "What about the scientists who say it's worse than ever?" the president replied, "You'd have to show me the scientists because they have a very big political agenda."

From left: Lee Cathey, 37, Al Cathey, 71, and Charles Smith, 56, survey damage in the coastal township of Mexico Beach, Fla., population 1200, which lay devastated on Thursday, Oct 11, 2018, after Hurricane Michael made landfall on Wednesday in the Florida Panhandle. Brock said he stayed in the city to ride out the storm. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

Trump's comments came just days after a Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that global warming would increase climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security and economic growth. The report detailed how Earth's weather, health and ecosystems would be in better shape if the world's leaders could somehow limit future human-caused warming.

Citing concerns about the pact's economic impact, Trump said in 2017 that the U.S. will leave the Paris climate accord. The agreement set voluntary greenhouse gas emission targets in an effort to lessen the impact of fossil fuels.

Washington is a 'vicious world'

On a different topic, Trump told 60 Minutes that he's been surprised by Washington being a tough, deceptive and divisive place, though some accuse the real estate mogul elected president of those same tactics.

"So I always used to say the toughest people are Manhattan real estate guys and blah, blah," he said. "Now I say they're babies."

He said the political people in Washington have changed his thinking.

"This is the most deceptive, vicious world. It is vicious, it's full of lies, deceit and deception," he said. "You make a deal with somebody and it's like making a deal with — that table."