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Firefighters battle the Bond Fire, started by a structure fire that extended into nearby vegetation, along Silverado Canyon Road on Thursday, December 3, 2020 in Silverado, California.

Firefighters battle the Bond Fire, started by a structure fire that extended into nearby vegetation, along Silverado Canyon Road on Thursday, December 3, 2020 in Silverado, California. (Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

EPA Data Kept Secret Under Trump Shows Climate Crisis Becoming 'More Evident, Stronger, and Extreme'

"Combating climate change—it's not optional. It's essential," said EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

Jake Johnson

During its four years in power, the oil-friendly Trump administration kept the Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Change Indicators page completely frozen, suppressing an updated assessment of how the planetary emergency is affecting the United States and other parts of the world.

But on Wednesday, the Biden EPA relaunched the page with new data showing that U.S. cities are experiencing more frequent and intense heat waves, ocean and lake temperatures are climbing, sea levels on U.S. coasts are rising, and wildfire season is peaking earlier.

Those and other alarming trends detailed on the revamped page—which emphasizes that many of the changes "are linked to the rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, caused by human activities"—constitute further evidence of the "urgency for action on the climate crisis," EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.

"With this long overdue update," Regan added, "we now have additional data and a new set of indicators that show climate change has become even more evident, stronger, and extreme—as has the imperative that we take meaningful action."

In addition to bringing up to date the page's previously existing categories, the EPA added new sections detailing how rising global temperatures have reduced the surface area of glaciers in Glacier National Park, Montana; shortened the duration of ice cover in the Great Lakes; and lowered permafrost temperatures in Alaska.

"There is no small town, big city, or rural community that is unaffected by the climate crisis," Regan told the New York Times on Wednesday. "Americans are seeing and feeling the impacts up close, with increasing regularity."

As the Washington Post reported Wednesday, the Trump administration "delayed an update to the EPA's peer-reviewed report on climate change indicators, first published in 2010."

"As a result, the report offers a snapshot of the extent to which the science around climate change grew more detailed and robust during [former President Donald] Trump's term, even as his administration at times tried to stifle those findings," the Post noted. "The Trump administration did not take down the climate indicators page, leaving it up with outdated information."

During his White House tenure, Trump repeatedly questioned the findings of government climate scientists, attempted to bury research on the climate emergency's impact, and weakened regulations aimed at reducing planet-warming emissions.

Kristina Dahl, a senior climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, said that while the Biden administration's decision to revive the EPA assessment is welcome, "it's a bare minimum that this kind of data should be updated regularly and available to the public."

"We have a very long, uphill road ahead of us for actually enacting policies that will make change," Dahl told the Times.


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