News & Blogs
Report: Scientists Fear Trump Will Ignore Sobering Climate Report
Published: August 8, 2017
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Editors' note: We previously reported that this report was leaked to the New York Times. That is not the case. In a correction, the New York Times noted the report was first posted by the Internet Archive in January.
Scientists say they fear the Trump administration will ignore the findings of a widely surfaced draft government report that confirms climate change is real, is human-caused, is happening now and will continue to threaten the planet.
The draft report, published by the New York Times this week, has yet to be signed off by President Donald Trump, who has proven to be a climate change skeptic and has required all agencies to seek approval from the White House before any climate studies are made public.
The report was compiled by scientists from 13 federal agencies. It concludes that the effects of human-caused climate change are occurring across the country and around the world. It also concludes that temperatures in the U.S. have risen by 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit over the last 150 years and that it is “extremely likely that most of the global mean temperature increase since 1951 was caused by human influence on climate.”
“Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” the report states.
(AP Photo/Branden Camp)
Scientists told the New York Times they fear the Trump administration will squash some of the findings or change the contents of the draft. There is some precedence on which to base their fears. During George W. Bush’s presidency, federal scientists were discouraged from talking about climate change and reportedly had climate change research altered.
The authors say that thousands of studies have compiled sufficient data to conclude that climate change is occurring and will continue to affect global temperatures, sea level rise, extreme weather and the displacement of people around the world. The primary cause: people.
“Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change,” they wrote. “Thousands of studies conducted by tens of thousands of scientists around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; disappearing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea level; and an increase in atmospheric water vapor. Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate changes.”
Scientists have touted the draft as the most comprehensive climate report to date, according to the Times. It notes that temperatures will rise an additional 0.50 degrees Fahrenheit (0.03 degrees Celsius) by the end of the century even if humans immediately stop emitting greenhouse gases. The projected actual rise will be as much as 2 degrees Celsius, which will have tremendous effects on the planet.
The report, signed off by the National Academy of Sciences, is part of a congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment that is completed every four years. The authors are awaiting permission from Trump and 13 agencies in his administration, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to release it.
The report is in stark contrast to what the Trump administration has been peddling. Trump has called climate change a Chinese "hoax" and has taken measures to derail America's efforts to fight climate change, including the withdrawal in June from the Paris Climate Accord, an international agreement signed by more than 200 countries to reduce carbon emissions in an effort to prevent global temperatures from increasing 2 degree Celsius. He has also rolled back former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, which limited greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
The EPA's administrator Scott Pruitt told CNBC in March that he does not believe CO2 is the primary contributor to global warming. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has also denied that global warming is human-caused. Instead, he said the most likely primary driver of climate change “is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in."
“I mean, the fact is, this shouldn’t be a debate about, ‘Is the climate changing? Is man having an effect on it?’ Yeah, we are. The question should be, you know, just how much, and what are the policy changes that we need to make to affect that?” Perry said.
It is unclear how the Trump administration will address the report. The EPA and the12 other agencies have until Aug. 18 to approve the report, according to the Times.
The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.