Thursday, February 08, 2018

EPA boss asks whether global warming is 'necessarily a bad thing.' The best answer seems to be 'Probably.'

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has long questioned the scientific consensus that the climate is changing because of human activity. But in recent months he seems to be trying a different approach, saying that even if climate change is happening, it might not be so bad for humans, Dino Grandoni, Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney report for The Washington Post.

Last month Pruitt said in a Reuters interview that "The climate is changing. That's not the debate. The debate is how do we know what the ideal surface temperature is in 2100?" He repeated the line about the ideal surface temperature in 2100 in a Capitol Hill hearing later in January, and last Tuesday said in an interview with KSNV-TV in Las Vegas: "We know humans have most flourished during times of what, warming trends . . . So I think there’s assumptions made that because the climate is warming, that that necessarily is a bad thing. Do we really know what the ideal surface temperature should be in the year 2100, in the year 2018? That’s fairly arrogant for us to think that we know exactly what it should be in 2100."

The recent changes have been more rapid than any ever recorded, giving nature less time to adapt, and the Post notes that rising temperatures could boost agricultural yields in some places while causing extreme drought in others. Record-high temperatures and a drought have depleted about two-thirds of the snowpack in California; farmers rely on snowmelt to water their crops, Ellen Knickmeyer and Rich Pedroncelli report for The Associated Press. And droughts increase the likelihood of wildfires, as we saw this past year, Anthony LeRoy Westerling reports for The Conversation.

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