A leaked draft of an extensive federal climate change report is causing alarm on Tuesday—both because of its findings, which make clear that the U.S. is currently experiencing the effects of climate change, and because of statements by the report's authors, who say they're concerned President Donald Trump will try to suppress the paper.
The 543-page report by scientists from 13 federal agencies details rapidly rising temperatures in the United States since 1980 and cites global events including an extreme heatwave in Europe in 2003 and in Australia in 2013, as concrete examples of climate change, saying that both examples offer "relatively strong evidence" that humans are contributing to global warming.
The authors write that they have "a medium degree of confidence" that rising temperatures throughout much of the U.S. are linked to human activity. The report also concludes that so much damage has already been done by the greenhouse gases humans have emitted into the atmosphere, warming would still continue over the next century even if emmissions of carbon dioxide and other gases were to stop immediately.
At Informed Comment, Juan Cole called the report "concrete, careful, and scarier than any horror movie you’ve ever seen," and said this about some of its conclusions:
One of the findings that alarmed me is that just in the next few decades average temperatures in the US will go up 2.5 degrees F. But by 2100, only 80 years from now, the average temperature will be 5 to 8.5 degrees F. higher! Remember, average surface temperature includes the cold Great Lakes and cold North Dakota. So in any particular place, say Savannah or Atlanta or Phoenix, the temperature could go up even higher than 8.5 degrees F. The scientists are saying that unusual record temperatures will become normal. Some whole cities (we’re looking at you, Tucson) could become uninhabitable...
The report must be approved by 13 federal agencies by August 18. Along with the president, the Trump-appointed heads of many of the agencies have not supported the consensus reached by 97 percent of climate scientists, that human activity is contributing to harmful changes in the earth's environment and is warming the globe.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt has argued that Congress should decide whether carbon emissions need to be regulated. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has called climate change "a running joke" and reporting on Monday revealed his agency has barred the use of the terms "climate change" and "reduce greenhouse gases." Earlier this year, with the support of his cabinet, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate accords to limit greenhouse gas emissions, saying it was a "bad deal" for Americans.
In light of the Trump administration's skepticism on the issue, according to the New York Times, "a scientist involved in the process, who spoke to the Times on the condition of anonymity, said he and others were concerned that [the report] would be suppressed," leading the team to leak its findings to the newspaper.
Following the release of the draft, the press as well as the science community expressed deep concerns over the administration's position on climate change and its impact on how experts have operated under Trump.
August 8, 2017
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Wow. Fear of Trump killing this annual climate report drove someone to leak it early: https://t.co/tG3qAXrftr— James West (@jameswest2010) August 8, 2017