Last Thursday, EPA Chief Scott Pruitt joined the Morning News to talk about the changes the EPA is making under President Trump.
In the interview, Pruitt seemed particularly proud that the U.S. was "leading the world in the reduction of GHG (green house gases)." He argued that the Paris Accord was a bad deal for America and represented an "apologetic view of the progress we have made as a country."
Armed with ignorance, Pruitt asked, "Why aren't we celebrating what we're achieving with respect to CO2?"
While it is true that the U.S. is leading the world in the reduction of greenhouse gases, it is not enough to warrant self-congratulation.
Under the Obama administration, the U.S. committed to reducing 26 to 29 percent of its GHG by 2025. But without further action, the Climate Action Tracker says the country will miss its commitment "by a large margin." And if the EPA successfully removes the Clean Power Plan, meeting those targets will become nearly impossible.
Meanwhile, according to the Climate Action Tracker, both China and India are well on their way to meeting their emission reduction goals, and they have both invested significantly in renewable energy. So while the U.S. may currently be leading the world in GHG reduction, Pruitt's soundbite won't be true for much longer.
The most recent federal climate change report itself concludes that even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases, the world would still warm an additional 0.50 degrees Fahrenheit (0.30 degrees Celsius) over the next century.
But it is unclear whether Pruitt or the rest of the Trump administration even accepts the new report, which has stirred quite a lot of controversy since the New York Times released an article about it last week.
"Frankly this report ought to be subjected to peer-reviewed, objective-reviewed methodology and evaluation," said Pruitt, when asked about the report in the interview.
"Science should not be politicized. Science is not something that should be just thrown about to try to dictate policy in Washington, D.C."
What Pruitt forgets is that the report has already been extensively peer-reviewed by a 14-person committee at the National Academies.
Eric Davidson, president of the American Geophysical Union, told Politico the report has undergone "a very rigorous peer-review" and is "built on 50-some years of published research, and each of those papers went through its own peer review."
Despite that, Pruitt was repeatedly adamant during the interview that "this is a report in draft form and still in draft form."
But to refer to it as a mere draft is misleading. The report's conclusions have passed rigorous peer-review, and now the Trump administration must accept or deny it before it goes to publication.
Usually, the president's science adviser is the one that signs off on the report, but Trump still has not appointed one yet. The U.S. Global Change Research Program claims Kimberly Miller at the White House Office of Management and Budget will be the president's liaison on the report, instead.
The administration has until Aug. 18 to review the report and send their comments to the authors. Now we must wait to see what the Trump administration does.