“Global warming may help humans flourish” – Scott Pruitt and his curious administration of the US Environmental Protection Agency

There is overwehlming evidence about global warming and climate change being happening and being hazadous to humans worldwide. However, until there will be an even limited level of scientific uncertainty there will be place for climate change (or global warming) denial. This uncertainty would mostly refer to the anthropogenic influence on the climate, the fact that carbon dioxide is a key driver of global warming and some others.

We can be critical towards people who deny the clear evidence of climate anomalies that we see not only in science, but also in our daily lives. However, everyone, as human being is free to see the picture as he/she wants. What I find to be most shocking and terrifying is what is happening in the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

First of all, let us remember what the mission of the agency is. It is clearly stated on the official page of the agency and couldn’t be more straightforward: the mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment.

Unfortunately, what’s is happening today goes in a dramatically different direction. Trump’s aversion to the agency has been proven on numerous occasions. He even defined it as a “disgrace” and made apparent his intention to reduce the agency’s competences in order to spark economic growth. The president was in charge of nominating the administrator of the agency and he chose Scott Pruitt, who was later confirmed by the US Senate.

Who is Scott Pruitt?

Scott Pruitt is an American lawyer and a Conservative politician. In 2010, he was elected Attorney General of Oklahoma and he received significant amount of funding from the fossil fuel industry for his election campaign. During his political mandate he sued EPA fourteen times (once to halt Obama’s Clean Power Plan). He opposed to many environmental regulation and self-declared to be a “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda”.

How is he administrating the agency?

Once nominated administrator of the agency, although the official mission of the institution remained the same, he launched a path of environmental deregulation. Stating that the coal, oil and gas industry has been devastated by years of overregulation and the war on coal, now Pruitt aims to rewrite all the climate regulation which combats climate change, water pollution and vehicle emissions, thus throwing away all the efforts made by the previous administration. Human health and the environment are not a priority anymore; the economic growth has to be pursued reducing the environmental constraints as much as (legally) possible.

Furthermore, Pruitt is also constantly committed to create a dramatic wave of misinformation in order to distract the debate about environmental issues. In addition to an unjustified attention over the uncertainty behind the phaenomenon of climate change (by saying things such as “we don’t know with precision what’s causing global warming” and “it is hard to measure with precision the human influence on the climate”), he is also trying to show the environmental problems under a new and dramatically absurd perspective: it will be good for us!

According to Pruitt, considering that humans have flourished during times of warming trends, how do we know that an increasing temperature is necessarily a bad thing? Moreover, aren’t we a bit too arrogant, thinking that we know exactly which is the ideal temperature of the earth in the future?

Even if it is also true that some consequences of climate change may be beneficial for populations in some critical areas of the world (e.g. possibilities for agriculture and shipping in areas of the Arctic), we cannot allow ourselves to forget all the uncountable negative consequences of the current trends (for example, deaths from severe cold are expected to drop but will be completely offset by rising mortality from heatwaves).

Moreover, what I find important to remember here is that we are not assuming to know the ideal temperature. We have been used to a given temperature range since we spent so much time adapting to it; every change from that situation will require mitigation and adaptation intervention, will be costly and probably also painful. You can find many other Pruitt’s statements with clear scientific responses in an article published by the Guardian.

In conclusion, it sounds very strange reading this kind of statements from the administrator of an agency that only few years ago used to recognised with a 95% level of confidence that human activity is at the base of all the global warming since 1950, supported by ICCP documents and a conspicuous body of science. What is clear now is that the person who is supposed to be protecting the environment, or at least to be spreading a proper information about the impact of our activity on the planet, is not respecting his mandate. And that is happening in a country that is polluting the planet more than almost all the other countries of the world. Maybe the situation has to be reconsidered and fixed, eliminating any kind of interest oriented position and ensuring an effective and honest protection of the environment (as may be expected from the Environment Protection Agency).

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