View of the area around Ny-lesund, located on Svalbard, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean north of mainland Europe. This area is threatened by climate change.

View of the area around Ny-lesund, located on Svalbard, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean north of mainland Europe. This area is threatened by climate change.

CBS journalist Lesley Stahl interviewed President Trump this weekend. She asked him about climate change. Here’s what happened next.(We know this excerpt is long. Hang in there.)

Lesley Stahl: Do you still think that climate change is a hoax?

President Donald Trump: I think something’s happening. Something’s changing and it’ll change back again. I don’t think it’s a hoax, I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s manmade. I will say this. I don’t wanna give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t wanna lose millions and millions of jobs. I don’t wanna be put at a disadvantage.

Lesley Stahl: I wish you could go to Greenland, watch these huge chunks of ice just falling into the ocean, raising the sea levels.

President Donald Trump: And you don’t know whether or not that would have happened with or without man. You don’t know.

Lesley Stahl: Well, your scientists, your scientists–

President Donald Trump: No, we have–

Lesley Stahl: At NOAA and NASA–

President Donald Trump: We have scientists that disagree with that.

Lesley Stahl: You know, I– I was thinking what if he said, “No, I’ve seen the hurricane situations, I’ve changed my mind. There really is climate change.” And I thought, “Wow, what an impact.”

President Donald Trump: Well– I’m not denying.

Lesley Stahl: What an impact that would make.

President Donald Trump: I’m not denying climate change. But it could very well go back. You know, we’re talkin’ about over a millions–

Lesley Stahl: But that’s denying it.

President Donald Trump: –of years. They say that we had hurricanes that were far worse than what we just had with Michael.

Lesley Stahl: Who says that? “They say”?

President Donald Trump: People say. People say that in the–

Lesley Stahl: Yeah, but what about the scientists who say it’s worse than ever?

President Donald Trump: You’d have to show me the scientists because they have a very big political agenda, Lesley.

A new United Nations report says that we have a short window to address the long-term effects of climate change and that immediate action is required by governments and corporations around the globe.

But it seems people still can’t get together on whether climate change is happening or not. What could convince those who don’t believe that climate change is real? What are the most compelling pieces of evidence to support this scientific conclusion? And how can people on different sides of the debate talk to each other without shutting down?


  • Paul Bledsoe Former climate adviser in the Clinton White House; professorial lecturer, American University's Center for Environmental Policy; strategic advisor, Progressive Policy Institute; @paulbledsoe
  • Sarah Myhre PhD, University of California-Davis; research associate, University of Washington; founder of the ROWAN institute; @SarahEMyhre

How To Talk About Climate Change With Skeptics

  1. Talk about the impacts of climate change — on the environment, economy, public safety — rather than the science behind it. It’s a more concrete approach that points to what we can see around us.
  2. Highlight that we have the technology to address this problem, from renewables to carbon capture to electric vehicles. This makes a wide-scale problem feel more manageable.
  3. Consult history, because this wasn’t always a partisan issue. Republicans such as Ronald Reagan took very responsible positions on environmental problems.
  4. Listen. A conversation is a two-way street.
  5. Don’t just preach; take personal action. Your words will have a greater impact.
  6. Think critically, together, about how scientific information is brokered to the public.

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