EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in an interview with CNBC this morning that he doesn’t believe carbon dioxide is a major contributor to climate change.
“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact,” Pruitt told host Joe Kernen. “So no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”
Pruitt called to “continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis” of the science behind climate change.
While Pruitt has expressed doubt around climate science in the past, this morning’s statements take his stance one step farther to full-on climate denial. It also marks his first comments on the issue as chief of the agency responsible for US policy around carbon emissions.
97 percent of scientists agree that human activity overwhelmingly contributes to the warming we see.
The following are quotes from leading climate scientists in response to Pruitt’s remarks.
Ben Santer, climate researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory:
“Mr. Pruitt has claimed that carbon dioxide caused by human activity is not ‘the primary contributor to the global warming that we see.’ Mr. Pruitt is wrong. The scientific community has studied this issue for decades. The consensus message from many national and international assessments of the science is pretty simple: Natural factors can’t explain the size or patterns of observed warming. A large human influence on global climate is the best explanation for the warming we’ve measured and monitored. The human contribution to recent warming is mainly due to carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning. Human-caused warming dwarfs the warming caused by natural factors. We can’t afford to reject this clear and compelling scientific evidence when we make public policy. Embracing ignorance is not an option.”
Kerry Emanuel, Cecil & Ida Green Professor of Atmospheric Science and Co-Director of the Lorenz Center at MIT:
“According to the most authoritative compilation of scientific research, that undertaken perennially by the IPCC, increasing carbon dioxide has been the dominant source of global warming , followed by methane, halogenated gases, and nitrous oxide, all of whose concentrations have increased primarily from human activity.”
Dr. Kevin Trenberth, Distinguished Senior Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research:
“Pruitt has demonstrated that he is unqualified to run the EPA or any agency. There is no doubt whatsoever that the planet is warming and it is primarily due to increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from burning of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide has increased by over 40% in the atmosphere since pre-industrial times, but over half of that increase has occurred since 1980. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and we can demonstrate clearly that the observed warming of the planet would not have occurred without that change in atmospheric composition. These are scientific facts, not opinion, and it is incumbent on politicians to take account of the scientific evidence.”
Don Wuebbles, Harry E. Preble Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Illinois:
“I suggest he talk with his own scientists and read the National Climate Assessment.”
Noah Diffenbaugh, Professor in the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences and Kimmelman Family Senior Fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment:
“We know that global warming is happening, and that the climate is changing. It’s clear that humans are the primary cause. It’s clear that we are already being impacted by climate change here in the United States. To deny that reality not only is a denial of scientific evidence but it also threatens the safety and security of Americans who face increasing odds of extreme events like the California drought, the flooding from Superstorm Sandy, and the heat wave that decimated crops in the mid-west in 2012.”
John Abraham, Professor, School of Engineering, University of St. Thomas:
“Actually scientists have known since the mid 1800s that carbon dioxide was a major greenhouse gas. This means Mr. Pruitt’s knowledge is close to 200 years out of date.”
Richard Somerville, Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Research Professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego:
“CO2 is the most important control on climate. Our burning of coal, oil and gas is the dominant cause of the 45% increase in CO2 since the industrial revolution. The biggest unknown about future climate is human behavior. Everything depends on what people and their governments do. Scott Pruitt should begin his new job by accepting the fundamental findings of modern climate science.”
The following are quotes from business, military, faith, and conservative leaders and elected officials in response to Pruitt’s remarks.
Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney, USMC (ret), CEO of the American Security Project:
“Countries are going to pay for climate change one way or another. The best way to pay for it is by tackling the root causes of climate change and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. If we do not, the national security impacts around the world will be increasingly costly, and borne by our men and women in the armed forces.”
Andrew Holland, Director of Studies, American Security Project:
“It is astonishing that EPA Director Pruitt said that he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to climate change. However, it does not actually matter what he “believes” – by law (as decided by the Supreme Court), he is required under the Clean Air Act to promulgate policies that reduce carbon pollution. It is important that the EPA continues to regulate carbon pollution in order to reduce the risk of serious national security consequences of climate change.”
Mayor James Brainard of Carmel, Indiana:
“I am not a scientist but I believe we need to pay attention to what people who have dedicated their lives to a field of study have to say. I am disappointed by the risky and extremely liberal approach taken by Administrator Pruitt when he challenges the scientists conclusions that humans contribute to global warming. A true conservative would cautiously take the position carefully researched by the scientific community as correct. A true conservative would hesitate to risk our future on non-scientific opinions.”
Mayor Dawn Zimmer of Hoboken, New Jersey:
“The EPA is supposed to protect Americans from pollution and the impacts of climate change. Hoboken is a coastal community on the front lines of climate change that was devastated by Superstorm Sandy, which left our city underwater for days. EPA Administrator Pruitt’s denial of the basic cause of climate change is dangerous and will put communities across the country at greater risk.”
NASA Chief Major General Charles Frank Bolden, Jr., (USMC-Ret.):
“…2015’s record temperatures are the result of the gradual, yet accelerating, build up of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists have been warning about it for decades and now we are experiencing it.”
Dr. Georges Benjamin, MD, Executive Director, American Public Health Association:
“Pruitt is just wrong. Carbon dioxide emissions pose an enormous risk to human health. Carbon pollution is the leading contributor to greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Climate change is causing more heatwaves and drought, more intense extreme weather events, expanded range of disease-carrying ticks and mosquitoes and a host of other threats to health. In addition, carbon emissions contribute to increased smog which triggers asthma attacks and aggravates existing lung disease. The science is clear. We need immediate action to reduce carbon emissions to protect public health.”
Aron Cramer, President and CEO, Business for Social Responsibility:
“EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s statement today questioning climate science is deeply troubling. Businesses in the United States and elsewhere are keenly aware that human activity is remaking the climate in ways that create disruption and business risk. In addition to the obvious and substantial human and environmental damage that will result, his approach will undermine the conditions that businesspeople need to innovate, create jobs, and compete in the global marketplace.”
Pastor Leo Woodbury, Kingdom Living Temple, Peoples Climate March Steering Committee Member:
“People can choose to believe anything including that the earth is flat, however for the people who suffer the impact of carbon emissions, weather-related disasters and illness, climate change is real.
Aura Vasquez, Director of Climate Justice, Center for Popular Democracy:
“It’s an atrocity to hear EPA Chief Scott Pruitt say that CO2 is not the primary driver of global warming. Disregarding the science is going to impact millions of people that are affected and struggling with the impacts of climate change, especially those in the most vulnerable communities. There is a real issue with the current administration – they don’t respect the sizable amount of research on climate change attribution and that’s an insult to the personal experience of millions of Americans already feeling the effects of greenhouse gas pollution. More than ever, we need to take to the streets on April 29th for the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. to show that human-caused climate change is real and poses a serious threat to our health, our families and our planet.”
Leah Seligmann, director of The B Team’s Net Zero by 2050 Initiative:
“The statements by EPA administrator Scott Pruitt questioning whether CO2 is a pollutant are deeply troubling, and contrary to globally accepted, empirical, scientific evidence. Furthermore, the business case for transitioning to clean, renewable energy is clear and compelling. Enlightened companies are already moving from an economy powered principally by CO2-spewing fossil fuels to one driven by clean energy. We encourage the US administration to stay the course with policies which promote and accelerate this transition.”
Nigel Topping, CEO, We Mean Business:
“This morning Scott Pruitt, the new EPA Administrator spoke to CNBC and claimed that Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is not “a primary contributor to global warming”. With this statement the Administrator finds himself at odds with science. The scientific community is clear. Global warming is real, accelerating and caused by human activity with CO2 responsible for between 75% and 80% of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. This finding is backed by 97% of climate scientists and is the consistent result of peer reviewed scientific investigations going back three decades. The Administrator is also at odds with political leaders around the world. 196 countries have signed the Paris Agreement on climate change, including the world’s largest producers of fossil fuels, because they understand that CO2 is the primary cause of global warming and needs to be reduced. And the administrator is at odds with the business community, who are making record commitments to reduce their CO2 emissions. More than five hundred companies have made commitments to address CO2 emissions through the We Mean Business platform because they see reducing CO2 through clean energy as the new market opportunity of the 21st century. We urge Administrator Pruitt to recognize the scientific, political, and business consensus, and lead the EPA in its vital mission to safeguard people, planet and prosperity.”
Rear Admiral David W. Titley, United States Navy (Ret.):
“Within the science community, the link between CO2 and climate change is as well known as the consequences of stepping out of an airplane and the effect of gravity. In both cases, if you ignore the science, someone is going to get hurt.”
Patrick Carolan, Executive Director of the Franciscan Action Network:
“Scott Pruitt’s denial that CO2 is a contributor of climate change confirms his disbelief of a century of fact based science, which even Pope Francis supports. There should be no discussion; protecting the climate is a matter of faith and morality. We should be protecting God’s creation, not destroying it. Denying climate science goes against the teachings of Jesus and St. Francis of Assisi.”
Nathaniel Smith, Founder and Chief Equity Officer, Partnership for Southern Equity:
“It’s disturbing to hear the person appointed as our chief environmental steward has chosen to turn away from years of scientific evidence. In vulnerable communities where the byproducts of climate change are felt the hardest the “inconvenient truth” has become a truth measured by life or death.”
Rev. Mitch Hescox, President/CEO, Evangelical Environmental Network:
“The science of climate change is well understood not only by every major scientific body in the world but also by the over whelming members of the Christian community. The Catholic Church, the National Association of Evangelicals, the World Evangelical Alliance and The Orthodox Communion all understand the carbon caused reality of climate change and most importantly its threats to God ‘s children around the world.”
David Crane, B-Team leader and former head of NRG:
“It is unfortunate that we have people in positions of authority making statements about global warming that are contrary to established science,” said David Crane, B Team leader and co-chair of its Net Zero by 2050 Initiative. “As the climate changes before our eyes, with the pace of change accelerating and irreversible damage occurring to our polar ice caps and other essential ecosystems, to suggest otherwise is not only an insult to the intelligence of the American people but a danger to the well-being of future Americans.”