The truly jaw dropping moment of the week just has to be the sight of the new head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, explaining the following on CNBC, after being asked directly …
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, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see, But we don’t know that yet … We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.
Everything about this is factually wrong
Back in the 1850s … yes, it really was that long ago … professor John Tyndall demonstrated that CO2 is a grreehouse gas.
The secret sauce to finding out all about this requires no membership of any secret society, nor any initiation ceremony. Instead just google “Greenhouse effect“. What you generally find describes not only the process, but also the history of our understanding of it and the role it plays in the observed climate change …
Strengthening of the greenhouse effect through human activities is known as the enhanced (or anthropogenic) greenhouse effect. This increase in radiative forcing from human activity is attributable mainly to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. According to the latest Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. Their effects, together with those of other anthropogenic drivers, have been detected throughout the climate system and are extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century”.
CO2 is produced by fossil fuel burning and other activities such as cement production and tropical deforestation. Measurements of CO2 from the Mauna Loa observatory show that concentrations have increased from about 313 parts per million (ppm) in 1960 to about 389 ppm in 2010. It reached the 400 ppm milestone on May 9, 2013. The current observed amount of CO2 exceeds the geological record maxima (~300 ppm) from ice core data. The effect of combustion-produced carbon dioxide on the global climate, a special case of the greenhouse effect first described in 1896 by Svante Arrhenius, has also been called the Callendar effect.
You have to wonder if Mr Pruitt knows how to google?
Does he not even have a friend who could possibly assist?
If he did in fact google the topic then he would discover the precise details that explains it all, step by step, on the website of the agency that he is now the head of.
Is anybody taking any bets on when that will be purged?
I’d suggest very soon, because already the word “Science” has been obliterated from the EPA mission statement …
Until the end of January, the website described that work as “science-based”, meaning that it would make recommendations based on peer-reviewed, solid scientific work into what counts as safe levels of pollutant in water meant for drinking, swimming or fishing. But now that reference has been removed, and it has been replaced by a message saying only that clean water will be recommended where it can conform to “economically and technologically achievable standards”.
His claim that “we don’t know” might indeed suggest that he simply lacks a grasp of some very basic science, and so presenting the missing information would be an easy fix.
That however is not what is going on here.
Follow The Money
Take a look at who is bankrolling him and suddenly things become a lot clearer …
Pruitt’s close ties with the fossil fuel industry have long been the focus of criticism from environmental advocates.
He has received more than $300,000 from oil and gas companies during his campaigns over the years. He also led the Republican Attorneys General Association, which received substantial sums of money from Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, Murray Energy and other firms. In 2014, the New York Times reported that a letter ostensibly written by Pruitt alleging the EPA had overestimated air pollution from natural gas drilling was actually written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma’s largest oil and gas companies.
When challenged about the above, his standard rebuttal is …
“That’s actually called representative government in my view of the world,”
In other words, he is confirming that he does not represent the interests of the people, but rather the interests of the oil and gas industry.
Pruitt Lied under oath to get the job
The evidence is clear and a matter of public record …
Pruitt told Senators that EPA’s conclusion that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare “needs to be enforced and respected” and that “there is nothing that I know that would cause a review at this point” of this scientific conclusion.
Pruitt also assured Senators that “science must serve as ‘the backbone’ of EPA actions.” Yet just weeks later, he’s expressing views on carbon pollution and climate change that directly contradict those of scientists at NASA, the National Academy of Science and every major American scientific organization — all of which base their findings on decades of intensive, peer-review research and data.
…This week, at the request of companies that want looser pollution rules, Pruitt withdrew an EPA request for information about methane pollution from oil and gas drilling operations. This after claiming at his confirmation hearing that he was “concerned” about the impact of methane pollution. How genuine can that concern be if he doesn’t even want companies to collect the information?
…In his hearings, Pruitt repeatedly claimed to favor greater authority for states. But he is reportedly considering whether to revoke California’s right to have stronger clean air standards for cars. Mr. Pruitt apparently believes in states’ rights when it suits his industry allies. He seems to think states have the right to choose more pollution, but not less.
There are specific very descriptive words that we expect public officials to at least aspire to. This includes both “honesty” and also “integrity”. What we find incarnated within Mr Pruitt is the complete opposite, and so the most descriptive words in his case are “dishonest” and also “corrupt”.
The EPA has made America a far clean and healthier place since it began its work in the 1970s. The Clean Air Act alone saves 220,000 American lives a year and prevents 2.4 million asthma attacks. The agency’s work on clean water and toxics and other pollution issues save many more. A politician saying whatever gets him the next job is disturbing enough. But when our kids’ health is at stake, it’s unconscionable.
This however is not simply a criticism of the appointment of one very corrupt individual who lied his way into a position of power that now enables him to promote the interests of oil and gas to the detriment of public health. It is also a criticism of the Republicans that ignored the clear evidence that he was like this and confirmed his appointment anyway.
The truly tragic outcome here is that his appointment will in the gutting of the EPA will have an associated body count.