EPA Chief Denies CO2 as Primary Driver of Climate Change
Scott Pruitt, the new head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), does not think that carbon dioxide is a "primary contributor" to climate change—even though the actual science says it is.
Global annual average temperature measured over land and oceans. Red bars indicate temperatures above and blue bars indicate temperatures below the 1901-2000 average temperature. The black line shows atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration in parts per million.National Climatic Data Center - NOAA
"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," Pruitt said in an interview with CNBC. "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," Pruitt continued.
The former Oklahoma attorney general, who sued the EPA more than one dozen times before being tapped to lead the agency by President Trump, was speaking to CNBC from an oil industry conference in Houston.
EPA boss Pruitt says CO2 isn't primary contributor to global warming https://t.co/s9ShXkYBpZ https://t.co/rkboAnR1xv— Steve Kopack (@Steve Kopack)1489069969.0
Host Joe Kernen asked Pruitt, "Do you believe that it's been proven that CO2 is the primary control knob for climate?"—a fact that has been established by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Two months ago, the agencies said, "The planet's average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere,"
The EPA itself says that greenhouse gas emissions including CO2 "threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations." Even the EPA's kids website says that the rapid burning of fossil fuels has added carbon dioxide to the atmosphere faster than natural processes can remove it.
"That's why the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing, which is causing global climate change," the site states.
"It's Official: 2016 Was the Hottest Year Ever Recorded" via @ClimateNexus/@EcoWatch: https://t.co/meonGdUrDY— Michael E. Mann (@Michael E. Mann)1484780151.0
Environmental groups have criticized Pruitt's latest comment and noted his notorious ties to the fossil fuel industry.
"It's become abundantly clear by now that Scott Pruitt is an anti-fact, anti-science climate change denier," Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter said. "Does he also believe the Earth is flat? Does he also believe the Moon landings were a hoax? More likely, he'll simply say and do anything necessary to promote the corporate interests and enable the profits of the oil and gas industry. Anyone concerned about the future of our planet should be resisting the pro-polluter Trump/Pruitt agenda at every turn."
"The arsonist is now in charge of the fire department, and he seems happy to let the climate crisis burn out of control. As Pruitt testified before Congress, it is the legal duty of the EPA to tackle the carbon pollution that fuels the climate crisis, but now he is spewing corporate polluter talking points rather than fulfilling the EPA's mission of protecting our air, our water, and our communities," Brune said. "Pruitt is endangering our families, and any sensible Senator should demand he is removed from his position immediately for misleading Congress and being unfit and unwilling to do the job he has been entrusted to do."
And, as Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook retorted, "We wanted to check EPA Administrator Pruitt's comments with appropriate scientific experts but all the fifth graders we know are still in school."
Unlike many of the outright climate deniers in his political party including President Trump who believes global warming is a "hoax," Pruitt has admitted that climate change is real and humans contribute to it. However, his official position remains that humanity's impact on our warming planet is "subject to continuing debate."
During his contentious confirmation process, Pruitt said he was "aware of a diverse range of conclusions regarding global temperatures, including that over the past two decades satellite data indicates there has been a leveling off of warming, which some scientists refer to as the 'hiatus.'"
New Bill Would Block EPA From Regulating Greenhouse Gases https://t.co/WtKItMefJQ @BusinessGreen @GreenCollarGuy— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1486423817.0
Pruitt was sworn in as EPA head on Feb. 17. Trump and Pruitt have both expressed plans to overturn Obama-era climate regulations, including the Clean Power Plan which requires states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
As The Hill explained, Pruitt's recent exchange with CNBC is likely political:
"His CNBC comments could hint that Pruitt wants to reconsider the EPA's 2009 'endangerment finding,' in which it concluded that greenhouse gases harm public health and welfare and should be regulated.
"The finding is the backbone of the Obama administration's climate regulations, since it obligates the EPA to regulate emissions if it finds it necessary to do so. When Pruitt was Oklahoma's attorney general, he unsuccessfully sued to have it overturned."
"This is like your doctor telling you that cigarettes don't cause cancer," Jamie Henn of 350.org said. "Pruitt's statement isn't just inaccurate, it's a lie. He knows CO2 is the leading cause of climate change, but is misleading the public in order to protect the fossil fuel industry."
Pruitt's comments come at the heals of Mustafa Ali, the EPA's head of the environmental justice program, stepping down from his position after 24 years at the agency, InsideClimate News reported.
Along with his resignation, Ali wrote a letter to Pruitt urging him not to kill the agency's programs that might face the chopping block due to the Trump administration's proposal to slash the EPA's $8 billion budget by $2 billion and cut its 15,000 employees by 20 percent.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The Washington Redskins will retire their controversial name and logo, the National Football League (NFL) team announced Monday.
By Alyssa Murdoch, Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and Sapna Sharma
Summer has finally arrived in the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, liberating hundreds of thousands of northern stream fish from their wintering habitats.
A Good News Story?<p>On the surface, the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/fwb.13569" target="_blank">results from our study</a> appear to provide a "good news" story. Warming temperatures were linked to higher numbers of fish, more species overall and, therefore, potentially more fishing opportunities for northerners.</p><p>Initially, we were surprised to learn that warming was increasing the distribution of cold-adapted fish. We reasoned that modest amounts of warming could lead to benefits such as increased food and winter habitat availability without reaching stressful levels for many species.</p>
Photo of Arctic grayling (left) and Dolly Varden trout (right). Alyssa Murdoch / Lilian Tran / Nunavik Research Centre and Tracey Loewen / Fisheries and Oceans Canada<p>Yet, not all fish species fared equally well. Ecologically unique northern species — those that have evolved in colder, more nutrient-poor environments, such as Arctic grayling and Dolly Varden trout — were showing declines with warming.</p>
Fish Strandings and Buried Eggs<p>Recent news headlines run the gamut for Pacific salmon — from their increased escapades <a href="https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/more-pacific-salmon-showing-up-in-western-arctic-waters/" target="_blank">into the Arctic</a> to <a href="https://www.juneauempire.com/news/warm-waters-across-alaska-cause-salmon-die-offs/" target="_blank">massive pre-spawning die-offs</a> in central Alaska. Similarly, results from our study revealed different outcomes for fish depending on local climatic conditions, including Pacific salmon.</p><p>We found that warmer spring and fall temperatures may be helping juvenile salmon by providing a longer and more plentiful growing season, and by supporting early egg development in northern regions that were previously too cold for survival.</p><p>In contrast, salmon declined in regions that were experiencing wetter fall conditions, pointing to an increased risk of flooding and sedimentation that could bury or dislodge incubating eggs.</p>
Headwaters of the Wind River within the largely intact Peel River watershed in northern Canada. Don Reid / Wildlife Conservation Society Canada / Author provided<p>Interestingly, we found that certain climatic combinations, such as warmer summer water temperatures with decreased summer rainfall, were important in determining where Pacific salmon could survive. Summer warming in drier watersheds led to declines, suggesting that lowered streamflows may have increased the risk of fish becoming stranded in subpar habitats that were too warm and crowded.</p>
The Fate of Northern Fisheries<p>The promise of a warmer and more accessible Arctic has attracted mounting interest in new economic opportunities, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2019.103637" target="_blank">including fisheries</a>. As warming rates at higher latitudes are already <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank">two to three times global levels</a>, it seems probable that northern biodiversity will experience dramatic shifts in the coming decades.</p><p>Despite the many unknowns surrounding the future of Pacific salmon, many fisheries are currently <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/03632415.2017.1374251" target="_blank">thriving following warmer and more productive northern oceans</a>, and some <a href="https://doi.org/10.14430/arctic68876" target="_blank">Arctic Indigenous communities are developing new salmon fisheries</a>.</p><p>As warming continues, the commercial salmon fishing industry is poised to expand northwards, but its success will largely depend on extenuating factors such as <a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060023067" target="_blank">changes to marine habitat and food sources</a> and <a href="https://www.yukon-news.com/news/promising-chinook-salmon-run-failed-to-materialize-in-the-yukon-river-panel-hears/" target="_blank">how many fish are caught during the freshwater stages of their journey</a>.</p><p>Even with the potential for increased northern biodiversity, it is important to recognize that some northern communities may be unable to adapt or may <a href="https://thenarwhal.ca/searching-for-the-yukon-rivers-missing-chinook/" target="_blank">lose individual species that are associated with important cultural values</a>.</p>
- New England Fishing Communities Being Destroyed by 'Climate ... ›
- Shrimp Fishing Banned in Gulf of Maine Due to Ocean Warming ... ›
- Atlantic Salmon Is All But Extinct as a Genetically Eroded Version of ... ›
A heat wave that set in over the South and Southwest left much of the U.S. blanketed in record-breaking triple digit temperatures over the weekend. The widespread and intense heat wave will last for weeks, making the magnitude and duration of its heat impressive, according to The Washington Post.
- Hot Weather and COVID-19: Added Threats of Reopening States in ... ›
- 50 Million Americans Are Currently Living Under Some Type of Heat ... ›
- Second Major Heat Wave This Summer Smashes Records Across ... ›
By Joni Sweet
If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Interviews With Contact Tracers<p>Contact tracing is a public health strategy that involves identifying everyone who may have been in contact with a person who has the coronavirus. Contact tracers collect information and provide guidance to help contain the transmission of disease.</p><p>It's been used during outbreaks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Ebola, measles, and now the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.</p><p>It starts when the local department of health gets a report of a confirmed case of the coronavirus in its community and gives that person a call. The contact tracer usually provides information on how to isolate and when to get treatment, then tries to figure out who else the person may have exposed.</p><p>"We ask who they've been in contact with in the 48 hours prior to symptom onset, or 2 days before the date of their positive test if they don't have symptoms," said <a href="https://case.edu/medicine/healthintegration/people/heidi-gullett" target="_blank">Dr. Heidi Gullett</a>, associate director of the Center for Community Health Integration at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and medical director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health in Ohio.</p>
“You’ve Been Exposed”<p>After the case interview, contact tracers will get to work calling the folks who may have been exposed to the coronavirus by the person who tested positive.</p><p>"We give them recommendations about quarantining or isolating, getting tested, and what to do if they become sick. If they're not already sick, we still want them to self-quarantine so that they don't spread the disease to anyone else if they were to become sick," said Labus.</p><p>Generally, the contact tracer won't ask for additional contacts unless they happen to call someone who is sick or has a confirmed case of the virus. They will help ensure the contact has the resources they need to isolate themselves, if necessary. The contact tracer may continue to stay in touch with that person over the next 14 days.</p><p>"We follow the percentage of people that were contacts, then converted into being actual cases of the virus. It's an important marker to help us understand what kind of transmission happens in our community and how to control the virus," said Gullett.</p>
Why You Should Participate (and What Happens If You Don’t)<p>A <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30457-6/fulltext" target="_blank">Lancet study</a> from June 16, which looked at data from more than 40,000 people, found that COVID-19 transmission could be reduced by 64 percent through isolating those who have the coronavirus, quarantining their household, and contacting the people they may have exposed.</p><p>The combination strategy was significantly more effective than mass random testing or just isolating the sick person and members of their household.</p><p>However, contact tracing is only as effective as people's willingness to participate, and a small number of people who've contracted the coronavirus or were potentially exposed are reluctant to talk.</p><p>"Contact tracers have all been hung up on, cussed at, yelled at," said Gullet.</p><p>The hesitation to talk to contact tracers often stems from concerns over privacy — a serious issue in healthcare.</p>
- Anti-Racism Protests Are Not Driving Coronavirus Spikes, Data ... ›
- Cell Phone Tracking Analysis Shows Where Florida Springbreakers ... ›
NASA scientists say that warmer than average surface sea temperatures in the North Atlantic raise the concern for a more active hurricane season, as well as for wildfires in the Amazon thousands of miles away, according to Newsweek.
By Andrea Germanos
Oxfam International warned Thursday that up to 12,000 people could die each day by the end of the year as a result of hunger linked to the coronavirus pandemic—a daily death toll surpassing the daily mortality rate from Covid-19 itself.
- These 6 Men Have as Much Wealth as Half the World's Population ... ›
- Climate Change Forces 20 Million People to Flee Each Year, Oxfam ... ›
By Jun N. Aguirre
An oil spill on July 3 threatens a mangrove forest on the Philippine island of Guimaras, an area only just recovering from the country's largest spill in 2006.
- 15,000 Gallon Oil Spill Threatens River and Drinking Water in Native ... ›
- Mysterious Oil Spill on Massachusetts' Charles River Spurs Major ... ›
- Disastrous Russian Oil Spill Reaches Pristine Arctic Lake - EcoWatch ›