Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue dismissed the climate crisis as a mere weather problem on Tuesday.
“It rained yesterday, it’s a nice pretty day today,” he said, speaking with CNN.
Asked what he thought caused climate change, Perdue said, “I think it’s weather patterns, frankly.”
Perdue also admitted he wasn’t sure whether President Donald Trump accepted the science on climate change. “He’s a golfer, so sometimes he knows he gets rained out and sometimes it doesn’t, but the long term consequences, I don’t know,” he said.
Trump is known for conflating climate change with weather, typically during winter snowstorms, a claim so misleading his own government’s scientists were forced to debunk it on Twitter.
But denying the long-established science on climate change — and how humans are the main cause — does not negate its effects. And the increasing toll felt by people throughout the country from hurricanes, wildfires, and now flooding across farmland, has brought home what climate change actually looks like.
Last year’s National Climate Assessment, released by the Trump administration, warned that climate change would cause more flooding in certain areas, including the Southeast and Midwest regions of the United States.
Increased rainfall events are already causing increased inland flooding. “Extreme rainfall events have increased in frequency and intensity in the Southeast, and there is high confidence they will continue to increase in the future,” the assessment found.
All of this comes as the Department of Agriculture under Perdue is refusing to publicize dozens of government-funded, peer-reviewed studies on the impact of climate change on agriculture, Politico reported Sunday.
Democratic senators, including 2020 presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), are calling for answers. Klobuchar wrote to Perdue on Monday expressing “deep concern and alarm.”
“When federally-funded scientific research is curtailed or withheld because of its attention to the consequences of climate change, farmers are cut out of participating in climate solutions and, at worst, unable to effectively mitigate and adapt their operations and infrastructure to its effects,” she wrote.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, called the situation “outrageous” and tweeted that the Trump administration “should not be burying vital research that will help us understand and combat the effects of climate change.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) also weighed in, tweeting, “While our farmers fight against climate change, USDA is shamefully fighting against science.”