Global warming is threatening to wash away New Orleans, ruin sushi, burn Phoenix to a crisp, screw up our coffee, kill the Great Barrier Reef, drown Venice, and bombard us with a shit ton of mosquitoes—but according to Scott Pruitt, the rising temperatures might actually be a good thing.
Pruitt, the head of Trump's Environmental Protection Agency, has long been a friend of the fossil fuel industry and a climate change skeptic. He's insisted that there's some disagreement on "the degree and extent of global warming" and even gone so far as to question humanity's role in the whole phenomenon. Now, in an interview with Las Vegas's KSNV, he admitted that the planet is warming, but said he doesn't really think it's all that bad.
"I think there's assumptions made that because the climate is warming, that that necessarily is a bad thing," the EPA chief said. "Is it an existential threat? Is it something that is unsustainable? Or what kind of effect or harm is this going to have? We know that humans have most flourished during times of, what, warming trends?"
Climate change skeptics have been harping on that theory for years—Republican Senator Ron Johnson made the point in 2016, saying that "mankind has actually flourished in warmer temperatures." But as New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait points out, it doesn't hold up when you account for how quickly the planet is warming up these days compared to the rates we've seen in the past. According to NASA's Gavin Schmidt, that pace is "unprecedented in 1,000 years," which is a problem.
But with America's coal interests and Rick Perry suggesting that fossil fuel production could help stop sexual assault, the theory that a hotter planet might actually be a good thing hasn't gone away. Trump basically made the point himself back when the bomb cyclone hit.
While most Americans believe we should probably do something about global warming and the man-made CO2 that causes it, for some reason, Pruitt keeps insisting that we can't be too sure about climate change—at least until a bunch of scientists debate about it on TV.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.
Follow Drew Schwartz on Twitter.
Related: VICE News Investigates the True Cost of Climate Denial