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New head of EPA says climate change not caused primarily by carbon dioxide

The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt made some remarks on Thursday about carbon dioxide’s role in climate change.

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Asked in an interview by CNBC’s Joe Kernen, “Do you believe that it’s been proven that CO2 is the primary control knob for climate? Do you believe that?”

Pruitt answered him by saying, “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, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”

While this is not surprising considering Pruitt’s history, it is a bit jarring to hear the head of the EPA state this.

Especially when the EPA’s website states directly the opposite:

Since the Industrial Revolution began around 1750, human activities have contributed substantially to climate change by adding CO2 and other heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere. These greenhouse gas emissions have increased the greenhouse effect and caused Earth's surface temperature to rise.

Yes, there are plenty of greenhouse gases besides carbon dioxide adding to the greenhouse gas effect like methane, nitrous oxide and water vapor, but the EPA has previously found that CO2 is the leading culprit: “Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change.”

Greenhouse gas levels over the last 2,000 years. Graph: Courtesy of U.S. National Climate Assessment

There is a natural ebb and flow of the Earth’s climate. But as recent studies have found, human activity is causing climate change 170 times faster than nature would.

The science community has long known that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases increase the greenhouse effect, which raises the Earth’s surface temperature, as stated above. CO2 does occur naturally in the atmosphere as well, but the drastic rise in CO2 levels over the last 60 years has caused the natural curbs for that to become overwhelmed, not being able to disperse of that much carbon dioxide.

CO2 atmospheric levels since 1959. Graph: Courtesy of NOAA

As the EPA’s website explains it: “Human activities currently release over 30 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. The resultant build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere is like a tub filling with water, where more water flows from the faucet than the drain can take away.”

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The greenhouse gas effect then causes things like extremely hot and acidic oceans, which have been killing the Great Barrier Reef at disastrous levels. Ocean acidity levels are caused from rising CO2 levels as well because the oceans are absorbing more of the gas simply due to the fact that there is more of it in the atmosphere.

As the EPA states, global sea levels have risen 8 inches since 1991. This causes problems for coastal ecosystems, shorelines, water pollution and an increased salinity in drinking water because salt water reaches further upstream.

While the Earth’s surface temperature continues to rise, we have broken the hottest year on record the last three years running. This is also causing much less snow in many mountain regions that depend on winter for their livelihood as mountain towns. Essentially, this threatens every aspect of the outdoor industry.

Human activity causing CO2 to be released into the atmosphere. Photo: Courtesy of Pixabay/Pexels

With the science community believing that fossil fuels are the biggest cause of the increased CO2 levels, that is the thing to keep in mind with Pruitt’s disregard for the scientific evidence his agency has gathered long before he had come aboard.