Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Interior Department, GOP Congressman Ryan Zinke, faced an intense line of questioning on Tuesday when Sen. Bernie Sanders took him to task for some of his more troubling climate change beliefs.
Zinke’s comments regarding the environment were so troubling at one point that Sanders had to stop him mid-sentence to issue a live fact-check.
The exchange came after Zinke suggested that the impact humans are having on the climate is an open question that is still subject to “a lot of debate.”
“I’m not a climate scientist expert, but I can tell you I will become a lot more familiar with it … I don’t know definitively – there’s a lot of debate on both sides of the aisle” when it comes to how people are affecting the climate.
At that point, Sanders stopped Zinke in his tracks to correct him.
“Actually, there’s not a whole lot of debate now,” Sanders said. “The scientific community is virtually unanimous that climate change is real and causing devastating problems. There is a debate on this committee, but not within the scientific community.”
It’s true that Zinke appears to be distancing himself from Trump’s more outlandish positions on climate change, but we shouldn’t let Trump’s low bar on this issue be the means by which we measure his cabinet picks.
After all, Trump believes that climate change is a Chinese-manufactured hoax. The bar for someone who wants to have a powerful position in the next administration should not simply be to reject that belief. Instead, we should expect them to accept the science and lay out how they will work to address the threat in a proactive way.
In Tuesday’s hearing, Sanders showed how all Trump nominees should be questioned going forward.