When Environmental Protection Agency Chief Scott Pruitt attempted to clean up President Donald Trump's decision to pull the United States from the Paris Climate Accord at a White House press briefing, CNN journalist Jim Acosta made sure that nothing was swept under the rug.
A known climate denier, Pruitt insisted that there needed to be more debate over whether or not our planet is actually getting hotter and that the concerns over the president's latest mistake were just "hysteria." He also quoted from a highly-controversial article written by conservative climate denier and former New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, a piece that Susan Matthews of Slate called "textbook denialism." He then tried to explain the ludicrous reasoning behind Trump withdrawing from the climate agreement.
None of it went over well.
"What Paris represents is a[n] international agreement that put this country at a disadvantage with very little benefit environmentally across the globe," Pruitt told the room full of reporters on Friday.
"May I ask a follow up question on that, sir?" Acosta ventured.
He then proceeded to ask the EPA chief to explain the number of irrefutable facts that scientists have been trying to impress upon this administration with ever-increasing urgency.
"Why, then, is the Arctic ice shelf melting? Why are the sea levels rising? Why are the hottest temperatures in the last decade essentially the hottest temperatures that we’ve seen on record?" he posed to an irritated Pruitt.
"When NASA says that 95 percent of the experts in this area around the world believe that the Earth is warming, and you are up there throwing out information that says, ‘Well, maybe this is being exaggerated’ and so forth, you talk about climate exaggerators, it just seems to a lot of people around the world that you and the president are just denying the reality, and the reality of the situation is that climate change is happening, and it is a significant threat to the planet," Acosta said.
"They're a little worried that you’re putting your head in the sand on this,” he said.
Pruitt responded to this by making more promises as to the innovations the U.S. will "continue to make" to reduce CO2 emissions, but his words aren't remotely reassuring given his cozy relationship with giants in the oil and gas industry and the Trump administration's refusal to see what's happening to Earth right before their eyes.
Maybe Acosta got him thinking, but probably not. For people like Pruitt, the house has to be burned to the ground before they even think to shout, "Fire!"