EPA chief’s questions about climate science draw new scrutiny

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt is getting bolder in questioning climate change.

In several recent public comments, Pruitt has sowed doubt about whether global warming is harmful to humans, and whether anyone could truly know what the Earth’s “ideal” temperature would be in 2100.

“Is it an existential threat? Is it something that is unsustainable? Or what kind of effect or harm is this going to have,” Pruitt said in an interview with Las Vegas television station KSNV.

“We know that humans have most flourished during times of, what? Warming trends. So I think there’s assumptions made that because the climate is warming, that that necessarily is a bad thing.”

frequently questioned if scientists know the ideal surface temperature of the earth. In making the case that governments should reduce the greenhouse gases believed to lead to global warming, scientists have discussed what the average global temperature at ground level could be in 2100.

“There are things we know and things we don’t know. I think it’s pretty arrogant for people in 2018 to say ‘you know, we know what the ideal surface temperature should be in the year 2100,’ ” he said on the New York Times podcast “The Daily” earlier in February.

Pruitt’s statements have alarmed many in the scientific community, who see a thinly-disguised denial of the science behind climate change.

“This is a standard trope of climate change denialism and it is ill-premised,” said Michael Mann, a Penn State University atmospheric science professor.

“The ideal temperature for us is of course the temperature that our entire civilization and infrastructure was built around and tailored to — i.e. the temperature range that prevailed since the dawn of civilization until we began burning fossil fuels and warming the planet at an unprecedented rate,” added Mann who is known for taking on climate skeptics.

Mann and others believe the statements are an effort by Pruitt to sow doubt about climate change policy as the EPA embarks on an historic effort to roll back Obama-era regulations intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We’ve seen a shift in what Administrator Pruitt is focusing on. At the beginning of his tenure, the focus was a bit more on ‘can we precisely measure the impact of humans on climate change?’” said Rachel Licker, senior climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, a group that has opposed many of Pruitt’s policies.

“There’s been a bit of shift now into a space of whether or not climate change will harm humans and what is the ideal temperature that we should be striving for by the end of the century and even suggesting that climate change could be beneficial.”

(Excerpted from The Hill 2/10/18