EPA head Scott Pruitt denies that carbon dioxide causes global warming

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He told CNBC that measuring human impact on the climate was "very challenging" and there was "tremendous disagreement" about the issue.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report from 2014, which summarized the findings of 2,000 worldwide scientists, states it is "extremely likely" that the steep rise in CO2, along with other greenhouse gases such as methane, has caused most of the global warming experienced since the 1950s. The EPA has already concluded that carbon dioxide is the primary driver of human-caused climate change since the Industrial Revolution and especially since the mid-20th century. (If you want to get fancy, quantum theory explains why molecules like carbon dioxide absorb infrared radiation and predicts with astounding accuracy exactly what wavelength is absorbed.) Finally, it turns out if you burn billions of tons of fossil fuels for decades on end, the concentration of carbon dioxide increases.

The question CNBC asked Pruitt was: "Do you believe that it's been proven that [carbon dioxide] is the primary control knob for climate?"

Pruitt said more debate and analysis is needed on the issue, and said he agreed with the assessment that the Obama administration directed too much energy towards addressing climate change and not enough toward environmental concerns such as water treatment or toxic-waste cleanup.

Methane is a powerful contributor to risky climate change, with 86 times the heat-trapping punch of carbon dioxide on a 20-year timeframe. For example, he has stalled the process of formulating methane regulations that would have placed limits on emissions of this powerful, short-lived greenhouse gas from the oil and gas industry. According to the EPA's own website, carbon dioxide accounts for about 65 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, largely from fossil fuel use. "Embracing ignorance is not an option", Ben Santer, climate researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said in a statement. Trump and Pruitt have both expressed plans to overturn Obama-era climate regulations, including the Clean Power Plan which requires states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. In his Senate confirmation hearing in January, Pruitt said, "The climate is changing, and human activity contributes to that in some manner".

"If there was ever any doubt that Scott Pruitt is a climate denier, this settles it".

Pruitt, who has close ties to Oklahoma's oil and gas industries, was confirmed last month by a 52- 46 vote in the Senate.

Pruitt, who had previously been the Oklahoma state attorney general, "is spewing corporate polluter talking points rather than fulfilling the EPA's mission of protecting our air, our water, and our communities", Brune added. The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that greenhouse gases are an air pollutant that can be regulated under the Clean Air Act, but Pruitt said Congress has never signed off on the decision.

"Pruitt has demonstrated that he is unqualified to run the EPA or any agency", said Kevin Trenberth, Distinguished Senior Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Mr Pruitt added that he shared Mr Trump's view the global climate accord agreed by almost 200 countries in Paris in 2015 was a "bad deal". "Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes", the summary says.