The overwhelming scientific consensus is that climate change threatens the environment and human health.
But that’s apparently not good enough for Scott Pruitt, the director of the Environmental Protection Agency.
During an interview with KSNV this week in Las Vegas, Pruitt said that climate change might not be a bad thing.
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"Is it an existential threat? Is it something that is unsustainable, or what kind of effect or harm is this going to have? I mean, we know that humans have most flourished during times of what? Warming trends," Pruitt said. "I think there's assumptions made that because the climate is warming, that that necessarily is a bad thing. Do we really know what the ideal surface temperature should be in the year 2100? In the year 2018? I mean it's fairly arrogant for us to think that we know exactly what it should be in 2100."
Scientists have been clear that if temperatures rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial averages, which is likely to happen by 2100, the consequences will be predominantly negative.
Climate change is already leading to catastrophic environmental problems around the world and these are expected to intensify by the end of the century. For example, heat waves are becoming more extreme, droughts and extreme storms are becoming more common, crops are being devastated by changing weather patterns, animals are being pushed to extinction, and climate change is exacerbating human illnesses.
By 2100, more than two billion people could be displaced from rising sea levels and extreme weather.
This grim forecast is why 15,372 scientists around the world recently called for urgent action to mitigate climate change.
While Pruitt’s comments seem unusual for the director of an agency meant to fight climate change, they fit with what he’s said and how he’s acted in the past.
Pruitt has a long history of casting doubt on climate change and fighting policies meant to deal with it. In fact, he built his career suing the EPA more than a dozen times before being appointed director of the agency by President Donald Trump.
Since then, Pruitt has ripped up critical climate change programs created under Barack Obama, prevented scientists from doing their work, and overhauled the agency’s priorities to make it focused on repealing rather than enforcing regulations.
And that’s part of a broader anti-environment trend within the Trump administration.
Scott Pruitt, the head of the EPA, thinks that climate change could potentially be good for humans. Does he also think an asteroid hitting the Earth would be good for humans? pic.twitter.com/xaV8mM1kCk— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 9, 2018
During the recent State of the Union address, President Donald Trump praised “beautiful, clean coal,” but did not mention renewable energy or climate change.
On Jan. 22, the White House added a 30% tariff to foreign-made solar panels, despite protests from solar industry representatives who said it would dampen business.
And over the course of 2017, the Trump administration announced a withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, enabled fossil fuel drilling on public lands, opened protected waters to drilling, scrubbed climate change information from federal websites, and enacted various other moves meant to slow the progress of renewable energy.
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