WASHINGTON — A meteorological research group gave Energy Secretary Rick Perry a free lesson about the well-established scientific findings on climate change, just two days after the Trump Cabinet member denied that carbon dioxide is driving the global crisis.
In a Wednesday letter to Perry, Keith L. Seitter, executive director of the American Meteorological Society, said it is "critically important" that Perry understand that greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are, indeed, the primary cause of climate change.
"This is a conclusion based on the comprehensive assessment of scientific evidence," Seitter wrote. "It is based on multiple independent lines of evidence that have been affirmed by thousands of independent scientists and numerous scientific institutions around the world. We are not familiar with any scientific institution with relevant subject matter expertise that has reached a different conclusion."
Seitter added that "without this fundamental understanding of the science, it is impossible to discuss potential policy changes in meaningful ways."
In an interview Monday, CNBC "Squawk Box" host Joe Kernen asked Perry whether he believes carbon dioxide "is the primary control knob for the temperature of the Earth and for climate." Perry said, "No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in."
Perry went on to defend his and others' climate change denial, suggesting that those who question the scientific community's findings are more intelligent. "I think if you're going to be a wise, intellectually engaged person, being a skeptic about some of these issues is quite all right," he said.
Seitter wrote Wednesday that AMS agrees — that "skepticism and debate are always welcome and are critically important to the advancement of science." But when it comes to the role of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions in driving global warming, he said, the science is "extremely well established."
"In climate science unresolved questions remain — issues that currently lack conclusive evidence," Seitter wrote. "However, there are also very solid conclusions that are based on decades of research and multiple lines of evidence."
"Skepticism that fails to account for evidence is no virtue," he added.
Read the American Meteorological Society's full letter here.