EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Just Said Carbon Dioxide Doesn't Drive Climate Change


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

Scott Pruitt, the climate denier in charge of the EPA. Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is being beaten to a proverbial pulp by the Republicans. Its improbable new chief, Scott Pruitt, has begun taking a sledgehammer to its ability to push back against climate change and keep America’s air and water clean.

Just recently, the word “science” was found to have evaporated from the EPA’s mission statement. It now appears that Scott Pruitt is taking this revised statement to heart – during a live interview with CNBC, he dropped the atomic bomb of regressive, anti-scientific statements on the American public.


“Just to get to the nitty gritty,” the news anchor asked Pruitt. “Do you believe that it’s been proven that CO2 is the primary control knob for climate? Do you believe that?”

“No,” Pruitt responded immediately. “No, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to global warming that we see. We don’t know that yet.”

What in the fresh hell is this? The head of the EPA is saying that almost every single scientist on the planet is wrong about the essential nature of carbon dioxide. Worse yet, the new anchor – who should have called him out on this straight away – actually appeared to agree with him.


Let’s be very, very clear. Carbon dioxide is the primary driver of climate change. Working out why involves some of the most basic physics you can possibly do.


Forget the fact that the science behind man-made climate change is overwhelming, and can be evidenced across a wide range of academic fields. Forget the fact that more than 97 percent of climate scientists agree that the climate is changing because of us. Let’s just go back to some rudimentary science here.

Carbon dioxide, methane, and a handful of other gases trap incoming solar radiation in our atmosphere and keep the world warm. Their molecular arrangement ensures that they are good at this, and this will never change.

The average surface temperature of Earth with these gases is around 15°C (59°F). With some basic calculations based on the temperature of the Sun and how far away we are from it – which you can check out for yourself here – you can see that without an atmosphere containing these gases, the average surface temperature would be -18°C (0°F).

Fact: Carbon dioxide, the most long-lasting greenhouse gas in our atmosphere, keeps the planet warm. Add more to the atmosphere, either via natural processes or via man-made activity, and the planet gets warmer. Nowadays, we’re adding so much carbon dioxide to the atmosphere ourselves that the world is warming 170 times faster than it normally should.


The head of the EPA saying carbon dioxide doesn’t warm the atmosphere is like NASA’s administrator saying the Moon landings were faked.


  • tag
  • climate change,

  • global warming,

  • carbon dioxide,

  • science,

  • EPA,

  • interview,

  • Trump administration,

  • alternative facts,

  • Scott Pruitt,

  • denier