The media and the internet are freaking out about new EPA administrator Scott Pruitt's remarks about climate change during a CNBC interview earlier today. As they used to say, let's go to the tape (or at least The Washington Post's report of the incident):
"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, the newly installed EPA administrator, said on the CNBC program "Squawk Box."
"But we don't know that yet," he continued. "We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis."
I just want to remind folks that this basically is what Pruitt said during his Senate confirmation hearing:
For the most part, Pruitt reiterated each time he was questioned that "science tells us that the climate is changing and that human activity in some manner impacts that change." He added, "The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact and what to do about it are subject to continuing debate and dialogue, and well it should be." Asked if he agreed President-elect Donald Trump's 2014 tweet that climate change is "a hoax," Pruitt replied, "I do not believe that climate change is a hoax."
Now that he's in office, Pruitt is evidently letting his climate change skepticism freak flag flap a bit more in the breeze. Pruitt is overplaying his hand, but as I reported during the confirmation hearings:
Pruitt is right that there is some debate among researchers with regard to the degree and impact that man-made climate change is having now and in the future. Just last year, one group of researchers reported that the global warming hiatus is real while another one found earlier this month that the hiatus never happened. Sounds suspiciously like a debate, doesn't it?
Still, it is the case that most climate scientists do likely think that carbon dioxide is the primary cause for rising average temperatures since the 1950s.