White House: Climate Change Threatens More Americans Than Terrorism

The administration is doubling down on decisions to prioritize climate action.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Tuesday that President Obama believes that climate change affects far more Americans than terrorism does.

"There are many more people on an annual basis who have to confront ... the direct impact on their lives of climate change or on the spread of a disease than on terrorism," Earnest told reporters.

"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, particularly Americans living in this country "¦ more people are directly affected by those things than by terrorism."

Earnest's remarks came in response to a question from reporters about Obama's comments on climate change made in a Vox interview released on Monday.

When asked by Vox if the media overstates the dangers of terrorism while downplaying the risks of climate change, Obama replied: "Absolutely."

The administration also highlighted climate change as a security threat at the end of last week with the release of its latest national security strategy, a foreign policy blueprint that put climate change on par with such risks as weapons of mass destruction, the outbreak and spread of infectious disease and terrorist attack.

But Republicans have grown increasingly critical of Obama's action to address climate change.

"Mr. President, I believe that most of us would think that a beheading is a far greater threat to an American than a sunburn," Mike Huckabee said at the Iowa Freedom Summit in January.