"Yeah, absolutely," Obama responded. "Look, it’s frustrating when the science is in front of us. ... We can argue about how. But let’s not argue about what’s going on. The science is compelling. ... The baseline fact of climate change is not something we can afford to deny. And if you profess leadership in this country at this moment in our history, then you’ve got to recognize this is going to be one of the most significant long-term challenges, if not the most significant long-term challenge, that this country faces and that the planet faces."
While the President seemed frustrated with some members of Congress' refusal to support legislation that may help combat climate change, he hopes that as public opinion evolves, lawmakers will be forced to recognize global warming and its impacts.
"The good news is that the public may get out ahead of some of their politicians," he said.
As people start to see more droughts and extreme weather, they will start to reward politicians who work on climate legislation, Obama said.
"The person who I consider to be the greatest president of all time, Abraham Lincoln, was pretty consistent in saying, ‘With public opinion there’s nothing I cannot do, and without public opinion there’s nothing I can get done,’ and so part of my job over these next two and a half years and beyond is trying to shift public opinion. And the way to shift public opinion is to really focus in on the fact that if we do nothing our kids are going to be worse off," the President said.
Friedman published highlights from his interview with Obama on climate change in his Saturday column. The rest of the interview will air on Monday's episode of "Years of Living Dangerously" on Showtime.