Scientists Take Issue with EPA Chief on Climate Change
LANSING, Mich. – The scientific community is reeling from recent comments made by Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, who said in an interview that carbon dioxide isn't a primary contributor to global warming.
Speaking on CNBC's show "Squawk Box," Pruitt said there's a lot of disagreement about the how much human activity is contributing to climate change, and that debate should continue.
But Noah Diffenbaugh, a professor at Stanford University's Woods Institute for the Environment, says climate change and humans' contributions to it are well known.
"To deny that scientific reality is not only a denial of evidence, but it also threatens the security and safety of Americans, because we are experiencing increasing occurrence of extreme events," he states.
Diffenbaugh points to extreme weather events such as Hurricane Sandy and the California drought as examples of the increasingly severe and dangerous effects of climate change.
Most of Michigan experienced the warmest February on record this year, and last week's massive windstorm that knocked out power to nearly 1 million people is being called one of the most significant weather events in state history.
A 2013 report by some 2,000 international scientists found it "extremely likely" that human emissions of carbon dioxide were responsible for more than half the global warming from 1951 to 2010.
Diffenbaugh calls that realization a critical first step.
"We're living in a different climate than we used to, and we have a lot of opportunities to protect ourselves and make ourselves more resilient,” he stresses. “And that begins with an acknowledgement that climate's changing."
In 2009, the EPA issued an "endangerment finding," legally obligating the agency to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act.
This week, however, President Donald Trump is expected to issue an executive order directing Pruitt to begin the process of rolling back regulations that control emissions from power plants.