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 on Friday, CNN journalist Jim Acosta made sure that nothing was swept under the rug.
A known climate denier, Pruitt insisted that more debate was necessary for humans to deduce whether or not their planet is actually getting hotter and called concerns over the president's decision to leave the climate agreement "hysteria." He quoted a controversial article written by conservative New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, a piece that Susan Matthews of Slate called "textbook denialism." When he tried to explain the ludicrous reasoning behind Trump withdrawing from the climate agreement, things took a turn.
"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.
"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 urgently been trying to impress upon the administration.
"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 demanded of 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."
Pruitt responded to this by making more promises as to the innovations the U.S. will "continue to make" to reduce CO2 emissions, but given his cozy relationship with giants in the oil and gas industry they're far from reassuring.
"They're a little worried that you’re putting your head in the sand on this,” Acosta responded.
It seems that, for people like Pruitt, the house has to be burned to the ground before they even think to shout, "Fire!"