Scott Pruitt, the embattled new head of the EPA, made some eyebrow-raising comments when asked about the effect that humans have on 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, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” Pruitt stated when he appeared on CNBC.
He followed that statement up by saying, “We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”
Now, this is not entirely surprising because Pruitt has personally sued the EPA over a dozen times. So basically we have a climate-change denier as the head of the federal agency that enforces environmental regulations.
This is particularly troubling since there is widespread scientific evidence and a nearly common consensus among scientists that human activity is the primary contributor to the climate shift that the world is experiencing.
According to the 4th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “it is a greater than a 90 percent certainty that emissions of heat-trapping gases from human activities have caused “most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century.”
Despite this, climate change deniers love to say what we are experiencing is a byproduct of the Earth’s natural cycle. This idea could not be further from the truth because the rise in temperatures that the Earth is experiencing cannot be explained through natural cycles. When computer models of temperature changes only take into account natural cycles, such as the sun’s intensity, the models do not come anywhere close to the temperature changes taking place. However, when the models take into account human activity, such as fossil fuel consumption, they accurately represent the temperature changes.
It is noteworthy that carbon dioxide, known as the main driver of climate change, has had its levels change drastically since it first started being recorded in 1958. CO2 levels at that time were in the range of 315 parts per million; today, as of January 2017, CO2 levels have reached 405.92 parts per million.
The enormous increase in CO2 levels can be attributed to humans burning fossil fuels at an alarming rate. We consistently burn fossil fuels when we drive our cars and cut down forests, among other things. There are not any other types of animals polluting the environment like the human species is.
Unfortunately, these CO2 levels cannot be wished away; in fact, the argument can be made that the damage is already done. Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for up to a century, but that is not even the most troubling part. Approximately 20% of the CO2 in today’s atmosphere will stick around for another 800 years. Therefore, our kids and grandkids along with other family members will literally be living in this.
Climate change is ultimately the most important issue of our time and despite the fact we have done some irreversible damage, that does not mean we should give up on environmental policy. What we need to do now is act before it is truly too late. Cutting down on the consumption of coal and oil would be a great start, although there will be great resistance from the people employed in those industries. The bright side is there will be plenty of jobs available if we ever decide to transition to more renewable energy sources.
With that said, it is extremely hard for anyone to argue against climate change being the most pressing issue in the 21st century. Nothing can exist in the world if a stable environment is not intact. Government officials and the mainstream media love to talk about issues like abortion, tax policy, and immigration, but no one can complain about those issues if we do not have an environment. Do not get me wrong, the aforementioned issues are very salient in American society; however, they need to be put into perspective.
Environmental policy must be at the forefront of Donald Trump’s agenda though I fear we are going to go backwards in terms of countering climate change. I mean, he did appoint a climate change denier to lead the EPA.
This is an opinion article. The thoughts expressed in this article are those of the author.
–Contributed by: Bobby Amendola