EPA Chief: Carbon Dioxide Not a 'Primary Contributor' to Global Warming

The Environmental Protection Agency's official stance, however, refutes this.

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Scott Pruitt, the man who sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 13 times before being tapped to lead the agency by Donald Trump, declared on CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Thursday that he "would not agree that [carbon dioxide is] a primary contributor to the global warming that we see," and 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."

That last part about the disagreement is easily demonstrable: The EPA itself disagrees with Pruitt's stance, claiming on its current "Causes of Climate Change" page that "carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change," and that 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."

NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also refute Pruitt's assertion, with the two agencies jointly stating in January that the "planet's average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere," an assertion that draws on data from ongoing scientific studies from both agencies.

Pruitt's statements drew immediate criticism from some lawmakers, according to CNBC.com, with Democratic Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, who is co-chair of the Senate Climate Action Task Force, calling his views "irresponsible."  

"Anyone who denies over a century's worth of established science and basic facts is unqualified to be the administrator of the EPA," Schatz said in a statement. 

"Now more than ever, the Senate needs to stand up to Scott Pruitt and his dangerous views."