Richard Branson: Hurricanes are the ‘start of things to come’

(CNN) — Virgin Group founder Richard Branson rode out Hurricane Irma in his wine cellar on his private island in the British Virgin Islands.

Tuesday, as many of the same islands braced for the impact of Hurricane Maria, he appeared on CNN’s “New Day” with a message: “Climate change is real.”

“Look, you can never be 100% sure about links,” Branson said after anchor John Berman asked if he saw a correlation between the recent hurricanes and climate change. “But scientists have said the storms are going to get more and more and more intense and more and more often. We’ve had four storms within a month, all far greater than that have ever, ever, ever happened in history.”

“Sadly,” he continued, “I think this is the start of things to come.”

Branson noted that recent storms like Irma, which tore through the Caribbean, and Harvey, which ravaged Houston, Texas, have been extremely devastating.

“Look,” the philanthropist said, “Climate change is real. Ninety-nine percent of scientists know it’s real. The whole world knows it’s real except for maybe one person in the White House.”

Anchor Alisyn Camerota pointed out that some in President Donald Trump’s administration, such as Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt, have said it is “insensitive” to discuss climate change during this time.

“The cost of rebuilding just the British Virgin Islands will be three or four billion dollars,” Branson responded. “The cost of rebuilding Houston will be billions of dollars. If all that money could be invested in clean energy, in powering the world by the sun and by the wind, where we won’t have to suffer these awful events in the future, how much better than having to patch up people’s houses after they’ve been destroyed?”

Last week, Trump was pressed on whether Harvey and Irma, which happened back-to-back, had changed his view on climate change. He dismissed the question.