Enlarge / Scott Pruitt shows off a hat with the logo of the organization he now leads. (credit: Aaron P.

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The Environmental Protection Agency is charged with enforcing two of the major pieces of US environmental legislation: the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

This necessarily makes it a scientific agency, as it has to incorporate information from sciences like geology, atmospheric science, toxicology, public health, and more.
In that light, it’s rather disappointing to have the recently confirmed head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, confirm that he doesn’t trust scientists, at least when it comes to the climate.
In an interview today, Pruitt was asked, “Do you believe that it’s been proven that CO2 is the primary control knob for climate?” We’ll get back to the awkward question, but for now, let’s focus on Pruitt’s answer:
No, 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.

But we don’t know that yet. We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.
Mr. Pruitt, meet Richard Alley, a registered Republican who happens to be the Evan Pugh Professor at Penn State’s Department of Geosciences.

Conveniently, Alley has prepared a talk that directly answers the host’s question: “The Biggest Control Knob: Carbon Dioxide in Earth’s Climate History.” In fact, that talk was prepared back in 2012.
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