Feb. 9, 2018 – Nancy Loeb is director of the Environmental Advocacy Center and a clinical assistant professor of law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. She is an expert on environmental law and policy.

Quote from Professor Loeb:
“The administration can pretend the climate is not changing, but government has a responsibility to protect people from these realities. Administrator Pruitt’s statement shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the consequences of climate change, including for Superfund cleanups, one of the few areas of environmental protection where he has voiced recognition of the need to enforce our environmental laws.

“Hurricane Harvey exposed the very real threat of hazardous contamination from Superfund sites flooding into nearby neighborhoods and endangering the health of children and other people. More, stronger storms like Harvey are almost certainly going to happen as climate changes and the spread of pollution that will come with it is a ‘bad thing.’”

Brad Sageman is the department chair of the earth and planetary sciences department. One of his main research areas is the relationship between changes in the global carbon cycle and ocean-climate interactions.

Quote from Professor Sageman:
“It is easy to say that warming will be good when one lives in the temperate latitudes and has the highest standard of living on the planet. But that perspective completely ignores the fact that the majority of the human population, most of whom live in the tropics to subtropics, exist at a much lower living standard, and their resilience in the face of significant environmental disruption is far, far less than our own.

“It seems to me that this perspective puts Pruitt’s comment about global warming in a very different light. Isn’t Pruitt’s statement consistent with the president’s recent derogatory comments about certain countries — the same low latitude countries that I was just referring to?”

James N. Druckman is the associate director of the Institute for Policy Research and a professor of political science.

Quote from Professor Druckman:
“This is likely a political tactic to take control of the term ‘global warming.’ This is a term to which conservatives have been averse — for example, conservatives are much more likely to believe in climate change than global warming. This seems to me to be a political, rhetorical tactic aimed at changing what people might construe global warming to mean.”

Yarrow Axford is an associate professor of earth and planetary sciences. Her research focuses on climate and environmental change.

Quote from Professor Axford:
“First, humans aren’t just contributing ‘to a certain degree’ when it comes to recent climate change. The scientific evidence says we’ve basically taken control of the dials.

“Second, so-called climate skeptics have been arguing for decades, basically whenever they feel warming is too obvious to refute, that maybe warming is a good thing. Superficially, it sounds reasonable to suggest that maybe warming is a good thing — especially when we’re in the middle of winter in the U.S. But can we really say that to people who live on low-lying coasts, whose roads and homes are threatened by rising seas from melting glaciers?”

Daniel Horton is an assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences and the head of the Climate Change Research Group. He specializes in the study of Earth’s climate system and its interaction with human and natural systems.

Quote from Professor Horton:
“I see it as a positive that Pruitt now acknowledges that our climate is changing and humans are partly responsible. This seems like ‘progress’ from him. Further, Pruitt is right to suggest that there may be some regional benefits to climate change.

“That said, scientific evidence disagrees with Pruitt on the larger context of both counts. Evidence indicates that humans are the primary cause of many of the observed changes in our climate system. In addition, scientists study the impacts of climate change, positive and negative, globally. The cumulative negative impacts of climate change — on public health, severe weather, the environment, agriculture and the economy — far surpass any positive outcomes in study after study. This accumulated scientific knowledge quite clearly disagrees with Pruitt’s takes.”