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The White House scrambled Friday to defend President Trump’s remarks about global warming the day before, when he announced he would begin the process of withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement.
A major area of dispute was the president’s use of a study by scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“Even if the Paris Agreement were implemented in full, with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100,” the president said, citing the study entitled “How much of a difference will the Paris Agreement make?”
“Tiny, tiny amount,” Trump added.
But MIT scientists said that Trump had “badly misunderstood” their study. In response Friday, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said there were other studies to back up the president’s position.
“There were other studies that were published at the time,” said Pruitt. “The MIT study was something that, as you indicated, showed two-tenths of one degree. They didn’t have the corner on the market in studies at that time, there were plenty — we can provide those to you.”
School officials involved with the study told Reuters that the White House hadn’t reached out to them to allow them to explain their work.
“We certainly do not support the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris agreement,” said Erwan Monier, a lead researcher at the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, and one of the study’s authors.
“If we don’t do anything, we might shoot over 5 degrees or more and that would be catastrophic,” said John Reilly, co-director of the program.
Pruitt also cited climate activist and former NASA scientist James Hansen, who called the Paris Accords a “fraud” and “fake” for not going far enough. He pointed to a New York Times op-ed column by conservative climate skeptic Bret Stephens about the degree of uncertainty in climate models. The column drew heavy criticism from readers who drew the opposite conclusion from Stephens, that uncertainty is a reason for taking more and earlier precautions against global warming, not less.
Yahoo News reporter Hunter Walker attended a White House briefing following Thursday’s announcement where officials failed to provide answers to any of the major questions about the withdrawal. During Friday’s briefing, both Pruitt and press secretary Sean Spicer refused to answer repeated questions about whether Trump believed in climate change. The president had previously stated that climate change was a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese to hurt United States manufacturing.
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