As relayed in today’s New York Times, a draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies has concluded we are in the midst of serious and dangerous climate change. The report, which has yet to be made public, directly contradicts claims by President Trump and some of his cabinet members that the human contribution to climate change is uncertain.
According to the report, “evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans.” Included among the report’s findings are:
- The average temperature in the United States has risen rapidly and drastically since 1980, and recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years.
- It is “extremely likely” that more than half of the global mean temperature increase since 1951 can be linked to human influence.
- Since the 1980s, extreme cold waves are less common while extreme heat waves are more common.
- The average annual temperature in the United States will continue to rise, making recent record-setting years “relatively common” and projecting potential increases of 5.0 to 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit by the late century.
- Average annual rainfall across the country has increased by about 4 percent since the beginning of the 20th century.
- Parts of the West, Southwest and Southeast are drying up, while the Southern Plains and the Midwest are getting wetter.
- Surface, air and ground temperatures in Alaska and the Arctic are rising at a frighteningly fast rate, likely to have significant consequences in terms of accelerating ice melting and increasing sea levels, putting our coastal communities in jeopardy.
The report appears to be very clear in its conclusion that human activity, particularly the emission heat-trapping greenhouse emissions, are largely responsible for these climate changes and the clear danger they pose to our wellbeing. The report was written as part of the National Climate Assessment, which is Congressionally mandated every four years. The National Academy of Sciences has signed off on the draft report, and the authors are awaiting permission from the Trump administration to release it.
The EPA is one of the government agencies that must approve the report. Whether it will is anyone’s guess given the outspoken position against climate change taken by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Whether President Trump will permit the release of the report is also in question given his equivocal stand on the subject. The battle between science and politics on climate change rages on . . . .
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