10 March 2017

AGU Responds to Statements from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on Climate Change

Posted by Eric A. Davidson

Yesterday, Scott Pruitt, the newly installed head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), made a statement regarding climate change in answer to a question posed to him on a CNBC program. “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.”

In contrast with that statement, an impressive array of scientific societies, and many academies of science, national governments, and other organizations worldwide have agreed on the scientific basis of climate change and the conclusion that human actions are a primary driver.

The position statement of the American Geophysical Union regarding climate change leaves no doubt that increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide resulting from human activity is the dominant source of climate change during the last several decades:

“Human activities are changing Earth’s climate. At the global level, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other heat‐trapping greenhouse gases have increased sharply since the Industrial Revolution. Fossil fuel burning dominates this increase. Human‐caused increases in greenhouse gases are responsible for most of the observed global average surface warming of roughly 0.8°C (1.5°F) over the past 140 years. Because natural processes cannot quickly remove some of these gases (notably carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere, our past, present, and future emissions will influence the climate system for millennia.”

As with all of AGU’s position statements issued of concern to science and society, this statement was developed by a panel of experts with the chance for input by our full scientific membership – a system that mirrors the gold standard scientific peer-review process.

As always, AGU stands ready to confer with the administration and Congress, and to provide scientific expertise and knowledge across all disciplines of Earth and space science.