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Thursday, March 9, 2017

EPA Administrator Pruitt Wrongly Dismisses Reality of Man-Made Warming

Summary: The Administrator of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, stated in a television interview that he does not agree that human activity is a prime contributor to global warming.
This statement is in direct contradiction to the well-established objective scientific reality that humanity’s burning of fossil fuels adds excess, long-lasting, burdens of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.  Since this gas exhibits the greenhouse effect, this excess gas contributes to raising the global average temperature, and brings on harmful extremes of weather and climate.
Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the U. S. National Climate Assessment, provide detailed support for such conclusions.  Climate scientists subscribe essentially unanimously to the reality of man-made global warming according to a search of the scientific literature.

Administrator Pruitt ignores these findings at great peril to the wellbeing of Americans, and indeed, of all humanity the world over.

The Administrator of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, in an interview on CNBC on March 9, 2017 stated he did not agree that carbon dioxide contributes importantly to global warming.  Here is this writer’s transcript from CNBC’s video of the interview:
Interviewer: “Do you believe that it’s been proven that carbon dioxide is the primary control knob for climate?”
Pruitt: “No I think that measuring …precision human activity [sic] on the climate is something very challenging to do and there is 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 …. [W]e need to continue the debate…..” (Emphasis added.)
The world’s climate scientists have shown conclusively in peer-reviewed publications that Administrator Pruitt improperly rejects the reality of man-made warming. 
·        Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an important atmospheric greenhouse gas (a gas that traps heat leaving the surface of the earth and returns some of it to the surface.) 
·        CO2 is formed by burning fossil fuels; the excess CO2 released when humans use fossil fuels for energy has been accumulating in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution began.

·        Most CO2 we add to the air stays in the atmosphere for centuries or longer.  So the fuels burned in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries released CO2 that’s still in the air today.  This is why man-made CO2 is such a problem.
·        A particular property of CO2 (carbon isotope ratios) measured over time shows categorically and irrefutably that the increasing amount of CO2 in the atmosphere originates from humans’ use of fossil fuels, and not from any other possible source.

·        For the last 800,000 years atmospheric CO2 has never exceeded 280 volumes per million volumes of air (parts per million, ppm).  Humanity’s burning of fossil fuels has now pushed that above 400 ppm.  The rate by which we are adding new CO2 is many-fold faster than at any period in the last 800,000 years.

·        Because of the greenhouse activity of CO2 the earth’s temperature has been increasing, following the same long-term trend as the increase in CO2.

·        Climate models show that the recent increase in global average temperature is only accounted for when the increase in excess man-made CO2 is included in the models.  Using CO2 only from natural physical sources does not reproduce observed global temperatures.

·        Annual global average surface temperatures in 2014, 2015 and 2016, each in turn, reached record highs never seen in the historical record (beginning 1880).

·        Increasing numbers of extreme weather and climatic events have been directly attributed to worsening global warming, or their effects made worse from warming.

Contrary to Administrator Pruitt’s claim, there is no debate over the human cause of global warming.  The United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Reports (ARs) and the U. S. Third National Climate Assessment (NCA) present the unambiguous conclusions of climate scientists worldwide that global warming is man-made.  In a survey of peer-reviewed journal articles on climate change, the authors are essentially completely unanimous in this conclusion.
The IPCC has issued five Assessment Reports (ARs) at 5 to 7 year intervals; the Fifth Assessment Report (5AR) was released in 2013-14 in three parts. Each part is prepared by hundreds of eminent climate scientists selected from among all member nations of the U. N.  
For example, for the first part of AR5, a first draft involved 659 experts and considered 21,400 comments by external reviewers; the second draft involved 800 experts different from the first group and 26 governments, and considered 31,422 comments. Only then was the final product released, approved by the scientists and by member governments. For this reason, 5AR meets every reasonable standard for scientific rigor, objectivity and validity.  It represents a worldwide consensus on the current status of climate science, including projections of future effects as the world continues to warm.  Its validity cannot legitimately be challenged.
The NCA was issued May 6, 2014 as mandated under the Global Change Research Act of 1990 to “assist the nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change”.
The NCA was prepared under the supervision of a federal advisory committee whose members are drawn from thirteen departments and agencies substantively involved in an aspect of global change science or policy.  It was drafted by over 300 scientists and experts drawn from academic research settings, federal agencies and research facilities, state agencies, nongovernmental organizations, private consulting organizations, corporations and foreign research organizations.  They critically reviewed original research articles published in peer-reviewed journals, and other reports of comparable scientific validity.  A draft of the Assessment was reviewed by others in federal agencies, the academic community, the public, and the National Academy of Sciences.  To issue the final Assessment 4,000 comments submitted by the reviewers were taken into consideration.  There can be no reasonable basis for doubting or dismissing the impartiality, cogency and veracity of the NCA’s findings.
Virtually Complete Unanimity of Acceptance of Man-Made Global Warming.  James Lawrence Powell recently published an article (Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society 1–4, 2016; DOI:10.1177/0270467616634958) which found that during 2013 and 2014 only 0.0058% of authors of peer-reviewed journal articles rejected the reality of man-made global warming.  Of the almost 70,000 authors of those articles only 4 reached that conclusion, giving a ratio of 1:17,352.  
Powell writes “[t]he extent of the consensus among scientists on [man-made] global warming [(MGW)] has the potential to influence public opinion and the attitude of political leaders and thus matters greatly to society.  [The results developed here show] the consensus on [MGW] among publishing scientists is above 99.99%, verging on unanimity.” (Emphasis added.)
Contrary to Administrator Pruitt’s claim, there is strong agreement on the degree of impact arising from global warming.  Both AR5 and NCA present extended discussions of the harms and damages arising from the impacts of global warming, and the prospects for more severe damages in the future as warming worsens.
Conclusion.  Administrator Scott Pruitt is wrong in “not agree[ing] that [human activity, burning fossil fuels is] a primary contributor to … global warming”.  The global community of climate scientists whose research is published in peer-reviewed journals agree essentially unanimously that man-made global warming is real.  The Administrator may continue to make such assertions, but they are not founded in objective scientific reality.  The consequences for federal policy of maintaining such views are alarmingly fraught.
© 2017 Henry Auer