WH Spokesman: Climate Change Affects More People Daily Than Terrorism

By Melanie Arter | February 10, 2015 | 6:52 PM EST

White House press secretary Josh Earnest (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(CNSNews.com) – White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Tuesday doubled down on President Barack Obama’s comments that climate change is a greater threat than terrorism.

“The point that the president is making is that there are many more people on an annual basis who have to confront the impact – the direct impact – on their lives of climate change or on the spread of disease than on terrorism,” Earnest said when asked if the president was saying that the threat of climate change is greater than the threat of terrorism.

In an interview with the liberal news website Vox, the president was asked, “Do you think the media sometimes overstates the sort of level of alarm people should have about terrorism and this kind of chaos as opposed to a longer term problem like climate change and epidemic disease?

“Absolutely,” Obama said, “and I don’t blame the media for that. What’s the famous saying about local newscasts, right, if it bleeds, it leads, right? You show crime stories, and you show fires, because that’s what folks watch.

“It’s all about ratings, and the problems of terrorism and dysfunction and chaos along with plane crashes and a few other things, that’s the equivalent when it comes to covering international affairs.

Obama said stories about cutting the infant mortality and slashing extreme poverty don’t generate a lot of interest.

“It’s not a sexy story, and climate change is happening at such a broad scale and such a complex system that it’s a hard story for the media to tell on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

“The point is this: my first job is to protect the American people. It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you’ve got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris,” Obama added, referring to the hostage standoff in January in which four Jewish people died at the hands a gunman whom took part in the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices.

When asked to clarify Earnest’s answer, he repeated that climate change directly impacts the lives of Americans on a daily basis more so than terrorism.

“So the answer’s yes, the president thinks that climate change is a greater threat than terrorism?” a reporter asked Earnest.

“I think that the point that the president is making is that when you’re talking about the direct daily impact of these kinds of challenges on the daily lives of Americans … Americans living in this country, that that direct impact is more, that more people are directly affected by those things than by terrorism,” said Earnest.

“So climate change is more of a clear and present danger to the United States than terrorism?” the reporter asked again.

“I think even the Department of Defense has spoken to the significant threat that climate change poses to our national security interests, principally because of the impact that it can have on countries with less well developed infrastructure than we have,” Earnest said.

“I’m not asking if it’s a significant threat. I’m asking if it’s a greater threat,” the reporter said.

“Again, I wouldn’t have a whole lot more to say about what the president has said in that interview,” Earnest responded.

As CNSNews.com previously reported, National Security Adviser Susan Rice in a speech at the Brookings Institution last week, said part of the president’s national security strategy is fighting “the very real threat of climate change” as well as promoting gay rights.

“American leadership is addressing the very real threat of climate change,” Rice said. “The science is clear.

“The impacts of climate change will only worsen over time,” she said. “Even longer droughts; more severe storms; more forced migration.”

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