As the United States emerges from the second warmest February on record, a laughable “winter” where the city of Chicago saw no snow for the first time in 146 years, Trump’s head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking time out of the days that he spends in bed with fossil fuel lobbyists to make some truly terrifying remarks.
Scott Pruitt, the former attorney general of Oklahoma who was suing the agency he now leads just a month ago, spoke out on Thursday to deny that carbon pollution is the cause of man-made global warming and the climate change:
“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.”
Mr. Pruitt is not a scientist and is not qualified to make these statements. In reality, while scientists may not agree on the precise impact of man-made carbon emissions, there is a virtually unanimous consensus that human activities are a massively important cause of global climate change.
In 2009 the EPA concluded that environmental warming caused by human activities “threaten[s] the public health and welfare of current and future generations.”
Climate change is not just a subject of academic interest. Sussing out exactly how much of a contribution human activities make to warming is an important question, but we cannot wait to answer it before we start doing something.
Public health and welfare are currently under threat. We currently know that human activities that release carbon into the atmosphere are a major cause of the climate change that is poised to ruin agricultural yields, submerge large chunks of land beneath the ocean, displace millions affected by an uptick in natural disasters, and allow tropical diseases to spread north.
Pruitt needs to stop pandering to the fossil fuel industry by focusing climate change debate on academic questions that are nonessential to forming an action plan. We know that climate change is in large part manmade, and we know that we must slow its impacts.
Now is the time to act.
With writing contributions from Marisa Manfredo
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.