Joe Romm/Think Progress
At the daily White House press briefing on Friday, one day after the Trump administration withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, Press Secretary Sean Spicer handed the podium to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Pruitt then ably provided the kind of nonstop falsehoods and misinformation the press and public have come to expect.
Pruitt said he didn’t know why people call him a “climate denier,” and then proceeded to quote and misquote Bret Stephens — the New York Times’ new columnist who has been widely criticized for spreading misinformation on climate change — as a basis for denying basic climate science.
Here’s the video, in which Pruitt tries to defend President Donald Trump’s catastrophic decision to exit the Paris climate deal:
First, Pruitt says some people call him a “climate denier,” but adds, “I don’t even know what it means to deny the climate.”
“Climate denier” is a shorthand for someone who rejects the well-established science of climate change. If you want to know why people call you a climate (science) denier, keep reading.
Pruitt then starts to quote from “Climate of Complete Certainty,” a recent column written by Stephens in the New York Times. That column, along with those that followed, was widely debunked by climate scientists and others weeks ago.
But here’s the most stunning aspect of that. The “very important quote,” as Pruitt called it, is actually a misquote: Pruitt eliminated the portion where Stephens, widely viewed as a climate misinformer, said the fact that the planet has warmed is “indisputable.”
Here is the key part of what Pruitt quotes (emphasis added):
“Anyone who has read the 2014 report of the IPCC knows that, while the modest 0.85 degrees Celsius warming of the earth has occurred since 1880, much else that passes as accepted fact is really a matter of probabilities….”
Except that’s not what Stephens wrote, as you can see at the New York Times website:
“Anyone who has read the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change knows that, while the modest (0.85 degrees Celsius, or about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) warming of the earth since 1880 is indisputable, as is the human influence on that warming, much else that passes as accepted fact is really a matter of probabilities….”
Yes, without informing the press or the public who were listening, Pruitt simply misquoted and rewrote the part where Stephens said the 1.5°F (0.85°C) warming since 1880 is “indisputable, as is the human influence on that warming.”
Stephens’ line is full of factual errors in itself. Indeed, dozens of scientists signed a letter debunking Stephens, and the Times even issued a correction for most egregious of his errors in that sentence.
But in his desperation to justify his boss’ unjustifiable decision, EPA chief Scott Pruitt can’t even bring himself to admit what Stephens admits — that both global warming and the human influence on that warming is “indisputable.”
So the man in charge of all environmental policy for this country can’t even utter the words conceded by a professional “climate change bullshitter,” as Vox labeled Stephens. Pruitt has more than earned the title “climate denier.”