EPA’s Scott Pruitt Flubs Answer To Carbon Dioxide Question

During an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt was asked a specific question about carbon dioxide.

“Do you believe that it’s been proven that CO2 is the primary control knob for climate?”

The beginning of Pruitt’s answer was correct: “No, 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.”

Indeed, climate scientists have not been able to say just how much climate change is due to human activity.

Indeed, there is plenty of disagreement among climate scientists as to the causes of climate change.

Then Pruitt ruined his argument by flubbing his conclusion: “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.”

Instead of saying that carbon dioxide isn’t the primary contributor (as he should have), Pruitt said that it isn’t a primary contributor.

The difference between the two articles of speech is significant. By using the wrong article, Pruitt veered away from the actual question asked and gave his critics cause to ridicule him.

The question that Pruitt was asked should be answered by a scientist. In fact, a scientist has answered it.

Ross Pomeroy is Chief Editor of Real Clear Science. While acknowledging that climate change is real, Pomeroy writes, “There probably has never been a situation in the history of our planet where carbon dioxide has been the primary culprit of climate change.”

. . . and speaking of carbon dioxide, on February 23, 2017, MIT climate scientist Richard Lindzen sent to President Trump a petition that was signed by more than 300 scientists. That petition states the following:

“We urge the United States government, and others, to withdraw from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). We support reasonable and cost-effective environmental protection. But carbon dioxide, the target of the UNFCCC is not a pollutant but a major benefit to agriculture and other life on Earth. Observations since the UNFCCC was written 25 years ago show that warming from increased atmospheric CO2 will be benign — much less than initial model predictions.”

If you didn’t hear or read media reports about the petition, then don’t be surprised. The fact that more than 300 scientists would sign such a petition is an inconvenient truth.

In 2006, climate scientist David Deming gave the following warning to the U.S. Senate, and it is applicable today:

“There is an overwhelming bias today in the media regarding the issue of global warming. In the past two years, this bias has bloomed into an irrational hysteria. Every natural disaster that occurs is now linked with global warming, no matter how tenuous or impossible the connection. As a result, the public has become vastly misinformed on this and other environmental issues.

Earth’s climate system is complex and poorly understood. But we do know that throughout human history, warmer temperatures have been associated with more stable climates and increased human health and prosperity. Colder temperatures have been correlated with climatic instability, famine, and increased human mortality.

The amount of climatic warming that has taken place in the past 150 years is poorly constrained, and its cause–human or natural–is unknown. There is no sound scientific basis for predicting future climate change with any degree of certainty. If the climate does warm, it is likely to be beneficial to humanity rather than harmful. In my opinion, it would be foolish to establish national energy policy on the basis of misinformation and irrational hysteria.”

By the way, I am still waiting for climate alarmists to explain the cause(s) of the Medieval Warm Period, because the Medieval Warm Period took place before the start of the Industrial Revolution. Although some climate alarmists have tried to sweep the Medieval Warm Period under the rug, it still took place, and it still was a global phenomenon.

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  • Red Five

    Roberson makes this point, which at first seems to be the central issue of his post:
    “Instead of saying that carbon dioxide isn’t the primary contributor (as he should have), Pruitt said that it isn’t a primary contributor.
    The difference between the two articles of speech is significant.”
    Then he promptly fails to explain exactly how switching from “the” to “a” is a failure on Pruitt’s part, how others would be able to ridicule him based on that statement.

    I would say the opposite, that the switch is actually correct. Pruitt was asked whether he believes that CO2 is “the” primary contributor to global warming. If he had responded that he doesn’t believe it is “the” primary contributor, that would still leave the possibility that it is in the top few causes suspected of leading to global warming. By saying that he doesn’t believe CO2 is “a” primary contributor, he’s saying he thinks it’s not even near the top of the list of causes. Which, according to all the credible research, is correct. Increases in CO2 do not cause global warming, they are a result of warming.

  • yetanotherjohn

    What is the difference (other than grammatical) between the primary contributor and a primary contributor? If we assume that primary contributor is not in reference to donations to candidacies seeking a party’s nomination to seek public office (for which even the most virulent on the left have to the best of my knowledge not accused CO2), what does this mean?

    of chief importance; principal.
    “the government’s primary aim is to see significant reductions in unemployment”
    synonyms: main, chief, key, prime, central, principal, foremost, first, first-line, most important, predominant, paramount; informal number-one
    “our primary role”
    earliest in time or order of development.
    “the primary stage of their political education”
    synonyms: original, earliest, initial, first;

    Is CO2 of chief importance to global warming? If you look at climate change models (when they bother to release their underlying assumptions and not just their conclusions) you find that CO2 doesn’t really cause much global warming in their model, rather CO2 in their models causes more water vapor to be released which in turn predicts the rising temperature. It is the water vapor which is the principal or of chief importance in causing the predicted rising temperature of the models. Of course, you can’t find a model where the predictions match reality (except some with very wide margins where the reality is just barely within their lowest predictions).

    So unless David wants to have his own definition of “primary contributor”, I think Scott is right on. If Scott had changed his answer to “a contributor” David might have a point, but not the change of ‘the’ to ‘a’.

  • Retired military

    Water vapor is a much greater cause of global warming than CO2.

    When the people who run around complaining about global warming stop flying their hairdressers 7000 miles on a private jet to do their hair then I may give it more thought.

  • Jwb10001

    And let’s ponder how that question would have been answered by the EPA director of the previous administration. I would call this progress regardless of the article of speech.

    • yetanotherjohn

      True that

  • Vagabond661

    Does anyone proof David’s stuff before it ends up here?

    • David?

    • yetanotherjohn

      Layers and layers of editors and fact checkers make the same mistakes, but my vote is no.