The Trump Administration’s New Climate Consensus: ‘The Science Isn’t Settled’

  • Date: 18/01/17
  • Alan Neuhauser, U.S. News

Humans are influencing climate change, but the extent of their role is still up for “debate,” Rep. Ryan Zinke told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday during a confirmation hearing on his nomination to lead the Interior Department, a role in which he’d oversee energy development and conservation across 2.2 billion acres of federal lands.


U.S. Secretary of Interior nominee, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), testifies during his confirmation hearing before Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Capitol Hill, Jan. 17, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES)

“Man has had an influence,” Zinke testified. “I think that’s undisputable as well. So climate is changing, man is an influence. I think where there’s debate is where that influence is and what can we do about it.”

His remarks represented a departure of a kind from President-elect Donald Trump, who tweeted in November 2012 that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” and on the campaign trail in 2015 and 2016 repeatedly declared that climate change was a “hoax.”

In October 2014, Zinke insisted during a debate that climate change is “not a hoax, but it’s not proven science either.”

Asked Tuesday whether he agreed with Trump’s portrayal of climate change, Zinke reiterated, “I don’t believe it’s a hoax.” But, he added, “I believe we should be prudent to be prudent. That means I don’t know definitively, there’s a lot of debate on both sides of the aisle.”

That prompted an interjection from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who had asked Zinke about his climate views.

“Actually there’s not a lot debate,” Sanders said. “The scientific community is virtually unanimous that climate change is real and causing devastating problems. There is the debate on this committee but not within the scientific community.”

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