EPA Head Pruitt on Climate Change: Dead Wrong. Three Fundamental Scientific Facts He Needs to Know.

, senior climate scientist | March 9, 2017, 4:27 pm EDT
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This morning EPA administrator Scott Pruitt got the facts dead wrong on climate change. Here are his remarks and a quick recap of three fundamental facts that scientists at NASA, NOAA, NSF, EPA, and beyond have established over decades.

During an interview on CNBC, Pruitt’s answer to the question “Do you believe that it’s been proven that CO2 is the primary control knob for climate?” was:

“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. But we don’t know that yet, we need to continue the debate we need to continue the review and analysis.”

Fact #1: Rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the primary contributor to global warming

This fact is not new. Scientists have investigated both natural and human contributions and have concluded that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary cause of global warming. The “apples to apples” comparison below uses the unit of radiative forcing (the effect caused by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere)—positive numbers indicate a contribution to warming and negative numbers a contribution to cooling. Carbon dioxide is the largest contributor to warming since both 1750 (see IPCC figure 8-15) and 1980 (see IPCC figure 8-20 below).

This figure compares the various factors that influence climate, both anthropogenic (human-driven) and natural. It shows “radiative forcing” (in watts per square meter). The higher a positive radiative forcing of a particular agent, the greater its role in global warming. (Source: IPCC fifth assessment report working group 1 figure 8-20.)

Fact #2: We have enough precision to measure human activity on carbon dioxide overload in the atmosphere

We can measure it! The scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have plotted the measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide through 800,000 years of Earth’s history.

The earlier measurements are from ancient air locked in bubbles from ice cores, which come from research supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other national and international sources. The modern measurements were begun by Charles David Keeling and continued by scientists at NOAA and others around the world. Atmospheric carbon dioxide measurement precision is accurate enough to know that today’s levels are not natural (see figure below).

Data source: EPA compilation of 10 underlying datasets. See www.epa.gov/climate-indicators for specific information. “Natural cycles” and “Precision is good enough…” labels added by B. Ekwurzel

We also have the ‘smoking gun’ evidence that this overload of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is primarily from burning fossil fuels (see image below). Check out chapter 6 of the IPCC fifth assessment report for all the juicy details from the scientific community.

Carbon detectives: Not only can scientists measure the excess carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, they can also detect the difference sources of the carbon atoms involved. Compared to other carbon sources, carbon from fossil fuels has a distinctly different “signature” (technically a measurement of carbon (i.e. δ13C pronounced “delta 13-C”) . The more negative the δ13C, the higher the proportion of carbon from fossil fuels. See IPCC fifth assessment report WG1 Chapter 6 for more details.

Fact #3: We have enough precision to measure the degree of impact from human activity

Consult the latest climate assessments or peer-reviewed papers on human fingerprints on climate change impacts for more information—there is plenty of it and we will delve further into it in future blog posts.

Finally, it is worth pointing out that administrator Pruitt’s blatant denial of well-established scientific facts is more than just egregious. It is also at odds with his testimony in his confirmation hearing and in no way changes his legal obligation to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant.

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  • Doufas Gowk

    Make no misteak about it. Global warming is a Hoax invented by crooked scienous to get money off the government.
    My granddaddy and his granddaddy grew tobacco in North Carolina. No one ever got sick for smoking. Many even enjoyed their life more by smoking to relax and becoming sophisticated. All that BS about tobacco was a plot by Al Gore’s father Al Gore Sr and other lying government crooks like the sturgen general to steel his land. But he outsmarted them, and they didn’t get it.

    • Pjoratv

      Please, turn off Rush and Fox News. FGS, get an education.

      • cunudiun

        Get a sense of humidor.

    • cunudiun

      Didn’t nobody never learn you to spell?

      • Doufas Gowk

        That’s exactly the trouble with you Liberal Creeps always try to distract ordinery people from the truth, which you never can do, bacause we under stand faux news when we see it.

  • PeterC

    1. Climate change is REAL, but its re-definition to mean that it is caused by Man, known as AGW, has never been shown to be true although many have faith that it is.

    2. CO2, whether natural or Man-made, can cause no climate changes. It is a greenhouse gas, but then so are ALL gases. Like all substances, all gases absorb heat in one way or another.

    3. The greenhouse effect is the name given to the heat absorbed by the atmosphere. The more atmosphere there is (ie its pressure), the greater the amount of heat absorbed. Venus therefore has a much greater greenhouse effect than Earth, whereas Mars has a tiny effect – despite its much greater amount of carbon dioxide than Earth.

    4. The heat absorbed by any gas mixture, eg the atmosphere, is (roughly) in proportion to the percentage of its constituent gases.

    5. As carbon dioxide represents about 0.04% of Earth’s atmosphere, that’s about its contribution to the greenhouse effect. Tiny, isn’t it? Methane et al have an even tinier effect.

    The above is from Chapter 1B at my site “Planet Earth Climate Topics” (pjcarson2015.wordpress.com). Chapter 2 shows that seismic activity, which has been increasing at the same rate as Earth’s temperature since 1900 (when the data here started), and match far better and longer than the CO2 vs GlobalTemperature correlation does.

    • cunudiun

      Did you read the article? Be honest.

      • PeterC

        I’ve read the same being parroted many times previously.

        But did you THINK about what I presented?
        It shows that Fact#1 cannot be true; easy!

      • cunudiun

        How do you know if you didn’t read it? LOL. And you cited the absolute stupidest fake science web site I’ve ever seen. (Ok, there was this one other one once that could rival it for sheer idiotic hilarity, but that’s another story.) Hmmm … pjcarson2015.wordpress … PeterC … Could it be? I’m rolling on the floor. You really can’t be serious.

      • Robert

        Theres some sorry short chapters for someone trying to recreate physics and chem to fit the ‘it cant be our tailpipes’ predeveloped conclusion….
        And right at the top: “…carbon-containing “fossil” fuels …”
        &
        “It has become assumed that because CO2, and many other trace atmospheric gases but not the main gases, can absorb Earth’s infrared (ie heat) radiation, this property has a determining warming effect on Earth’s temperature. ”

        I don’t see any signs he has any science chops beyond what he”s getting fed at denier blogs. Actually, at least as confused about the science as any of the below:

        RealOldOne2 https://disqus.com/home/discussion/thedailycaller/lets_talk_about_the_97_consensus_on_global_warming/#comment-3187691549

        D LII https://disqus.com/home/discussion/mm-fa/epa_administrator_scott_pruitt_on_squawk_box_i_would_not_agree_that_co2_is_a_primary_contributor_to_/#comment-3196768085

        Gordon Fulks
        (Who actually, if he is who he says he is, holds PhD in Physics, but now is part of that ‘half a day googler, et al group of people who havent published in decades but still think they can think in terms of science ) https://disqus.com/home/discussion/mm-fa/epa_administrator_scott_pruitt_on_squawk_box_i_would_not_agree_that_co2_is_a_primary_contributor_to_/#comment-3196768085

        Denis_Ables https://disqus.com/home/discussion/pj-media/scott_pruitt39s_game_changing_call_for_debate_on_climate_science/#comment-3161363121

        maltow https://disqus.com/home/discussion/longmont-timescall/tom_harris_properly_address_climate_change_by_helping_people_today/#comment-3201754111

        Cold Miser https://disqus.com/home/discussion/washtimes/climate_change_whistleblower_alleges_noaa_manipulated_data_to_hide_global_warming_pause_push_clim/#comment-3148332232

        david russell https://disqus.com/home/discussion/misesinstitute/rothbard_explains_the_proper_response_to_climate_change/#comment-3203589310

        All show an inability to use critical thinking, generally won’t cite the blog they are ‘borrowing’ language from, can’t evaluate resources at a level expected of average 8th graders, and oft lurch into conspiracy theory at some level. Most argue they have a better grasp on the science than those publishing anything supportive of ACC and then cherry pick from stuff that is in the sub3%. A few also have unwritten textbooks of alt fiziqiks .

      • cunudiun

        I don’t know if any of these come close to my favorite internet science book, which states, “All indications are that there is no such thing as a hydrogen bomb.” The brainless Roald J. Larson called this book one of his favorites, and Heartland Institute attack dog Russell Cook upvoted him saying that.

      • PeterC

        cunudian
        As I wrote above, I’ve read the same … many times. In other words, I have read it.
        The central basis, as all such sites, is because Temperatures, and more recently CO2 (due to Man) have risen, this is proof that Man is causing temperatures to rise!! Shheeesh!

        Robert.
        “what he”s getting fed at denier blogs”.
        Really? Have you seen any of what I present on any site, denier or otherwise?
        If you had actually read any of my site, you’d have seen my “scientific chops” are PhD in physical chemistry, and in particular, properties of gas mixtures (Think atmosphere.) And it’s from that perspective I’ve reached my conclusions – which match the data quantitatively. That’s a lot more pertinent than the “97 % “ of experts.

        Both.
        Can either of you show what I’ve written is incorrect? It should be understandable by anyone with at least some science background, but perhaps may not have been thought of in the first place if one doesn’t have mine.

        Still, I’m surprised you two cannot understand what’s written … although I guess you need to read it first – with an open mind.

        As an exercise. What is the relationship between CO2 concentration and IR absorbance? Can you get it to fit that for Earth with that for Venus, or Mars?
        I can.

      • cunudiun

        “As I wrote above, I’ve read the same … many times. In other words, I have read it.”
        In other words, you haven’t read it.
        In other words, you don’t know if you have “read the same,” because you haven’t read it.

        So that is your site, Peter J. Carson. As for your credibility, I’ll just reply to a little of what you’ve written in your comment above.

        “1. Climate change is REAL, but its re-definition to mean that it is caused by Man, known as AGW, has never been shown to be true although many have faith that it is.”

        My reply: Scroll up the page and read the section you didn’t read before titled “Fact #2: We have enough precision to measure human activity on carbon dioxide overload in the atmosphere“. Pardon me for not taking the trouble to cut and paste the same section here and making you perform that difficult scrolling operation.

        “2. CO2, whether natural or Man-made, can cause no climate changes. It is a greenhouse gas, but then so are ALL gases. Like all substances, all gases absorb heat in one way or another.”

        Garbage. Not all gases are greenhouse gases. See this explanation by a real climate scientist, David Archer. It also explains the mechanism by which greenhouse gases work, which, judging by your points 4 and 5, you have no idea about. See also Spencer Weart’s The Discovery of Global Warming

        “3. The greenhouse effect is the name given to the heat absorbed by the atmosphere. The more atmosphere there is (ie its pressure), the greater the amount of heat absorbed. Venus therefore has a much greater greenhouse effect than Earth, whereas Mars has a tiny effect – despite its much greater amount of carbon dioxide than Earth.”

        In fact, the Martian atmosphere absorbs a greater fraction (0.86) of incident solar radiation than earth (0.70).
        http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-iarticle_query?bibcode=1987AREPS..15..171P&db_key=AST&page_ind=2&plate_select=NO&data_type=GIF&type=SCREEN_GIF&classic=YES

        “my “scientific chops” are PhD in physical chemistry, and in particular, properties of gas mixtures”
        Total fiction, based on what you wrote. More like pork chops.

      • Doufas Gowk

        Cunudium is absolootly rite, as any fool can clearly understand. CO2 can’t possible be harmful. After all, it makes the trees grow really fast, and then when they die, we get more fossile fule. What could possibly be better than that. I call it renewable energy at its finest.

      • Doufas Gowk

        Robert, that foolishness about CO2 absorbence is not real. It is faux science perpetrated by rogue people who call them selves science but are in fact nothing but trying to get government contract writing Obama approved propaganda. Well, it’s not gonna work any more cause Trump cleerly knows that Climate Change is a HOAX. Any fool undertstands this. Why don’t you? Think about it until you get smart. You need it bad. It’s not good to be a fool.

      • Robert

        Ah… I knew you had discussed that ‘book’ earlier, but I’d stuck it in the silly, asinine corner with timecube guy ….

  • jayseedub

    Nice try…..