EPA chief Pruitt reveals Trump climate policy is built on a lie

Pruitt says humans 'most flourished’ during warming trends. Science says otherwise.

EPA chief Scott Pruitt and President Donald Trump announcing the U.S. plan to withdraw from Paris Climate Accord. June 1, 2017. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
EPA chief Scott Pruitt and President Donald Trump announcing the U.S. plan to withdraw from Paris Climate Accord. June 1, 2017. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has been working overtime to promote fossil fuels and rollback U.S. climate action; policies that climate scientists and over 190 nations say will lead to catastrophic levels of warming.

On Tuesday, Pruitt, who has long denied basic climate science, explained part of his underlying motivation for the Trump administration’s dangerous policies: the idea that more global warming could be a good thing that helps the world “flourish.”

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Pruitt told KSNV television in Nevada, “I think there’s assumptions made that because the climate is warming, that that necessarily is a bad thing.” He falsely asserted, “We know that humans have most flourished during times of, what, warming trends?”

In fact, the scientific literature could not be clearer that humans have flourished when the climate is stable.

TEMPERATURE CHANGE OVER PAST 11,000 YEARS (IN BLUE) PLUS PROJECTED WARMING OVER THE NEXT CENTURY ON HUMANITY’S CURRENT EMISSIONS PATH.
TEMPERATURE CHANGE OVER PAST 11,000 YEARS (IN BLUE) PLUS PROJECTED WARMING OVER THE NEXT CENTURY ON HUMANITY’S CURRENT EMISSIONS PATH.

Indeed, stable temperatures enabled the development of modern civilization, global agriculture, and a world that could sustain a vast population.

The policies of climate science deniers like Pruitt and Trump would serve only to speed up the destruction of a livable climate, a key reason scientists have been increasingly outspoken against them.

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“As the evidence becomes ever more compelling that climate change is real and human caused, the forces of denial turn to other specious argument, like ‘it will be good for us’,” climatologist Michael Mann told ThinkProgress. “And that keeps their funders like the Koch brothers, very happy.”

This isn’t the first time Pruitt has used a specious talking point this year. In January, he told Reuters, “The debate is how do we know what the ideal surface temperature is in 2100?” Even though scientists debunked him at the time, Pruitt actually got snarky Tuesday saying, “Do we really know what the ideal surface temperature is in the year 2100–in the year 2018? It’s fairly arrogant for us to think that we know exactly what it should be in 2100.”

In fact, as climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe explained last month, “There is no one perfect temperature for the earth, but there is for us humans, and that’s the temperature we’ve had over the last few thousands of years when we built our civilization, agriculture, economy, and infrastructure.”

She noted: “Two-thirds of the world’s largest cities are located within a meter of sea level. What happens when sea level rises a meter or more, as it’s likely to this century? We can’t pick up Shanghai or London or New York and move them. Most of our arable land is already carefully allocated and farmed. ”

Hayhoe put together an explainer video for PBS on the very talking point Pruitt is now pushing:

Bottom line: It’s not arrogant for us to listen to the overwhelming consensus of climate scientists, and join with the rest of the world in the fight to avoid catastrophic temperature changes. What’s arrogant is ignoring science while  jeopardizing the health and well-being of Americans and billions of people around the globe.