WASHINGTON, March 9 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt drew fire on Thursday for denying that carbon dioxide is a main cause of global warming.
"I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see," Pruitt told CNBC's "Squawk Box."
Pruitt also called the Paris Agreement, an international accord aimed at tackling climate change, "a bad deal" for the United States.
The stance of the EPA chief was at odds with the international scientific consensus on climate change and even his own agency, which stated on its website that "carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change."
Pruitt's comments outraged scientists, environmentalists, and even Gina McCarthy, his immediate predecessor at the EPA.
"The world of science is about empirical evidence, not beliefs," McCarthy said in a statement. "When it comes to climate change, the evidence is robust and overwhelmingly clear that the cost of inaction is unacceptably high."
"I cannot imagine what additional information the administrator might want from scientists for him to understand that," she added.
U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, co-chair of the Senate Climate Action Task Force, slammed Pruitt's views as "extreme" and "irresponsible."
"If there was ever any doubt that Scott Pruitt is a climate denier, this settles it," Schatz said in a statement. "Anyone who denies over a century's worth of established science and basic facts is unqualified to be the administrator of the EPA."
Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, said that Pruitt has demonstrated that he is "unqualified to run the EPA or any agency."
Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, an environmental organization, called for Pruitt to resign.
"The arsonist is now in charge of the fire department, and he seems happy to let the climate crisis burn out of control," Brune said in a statement. "Any sensible Senator should demand he is removed from his position immediately for misleading Congress and being unfit and unwilling to do the job he has been entrusted to do."