New Federal Report on Climate Change Refutes Beliefs of Trump Cabinet

By Ayana Byrd Aug 08, 2017

In another leak from the Trump Administration, The New York Times obtained a report on climate change last night (August 7).

Titled the Climate Science Special Report, it is based on the work of scientists from 13 federal agencies, and it concludes that it is “extremely likely” that more than half of the increase in global temperatures over the past 40 years is because of human activity. Though this has been the assertion of many of the world’s experts—and laypeople—on global warming, it is a belief that starkly contradicts those of a number of Trump’s cabinet members, who claim it is uncertain how much human behavior is to blame.

The draft is now under review by the White House, which received it several weeks ago. According to New York magazine, 13 government agencies must sign off on the draft, which has already been approved by the National Academy of Sciences, by Sunday.

The Washington Post reports that scientists from these agencies fear suppression from the White House. One of the agencies that must approve it is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is headed by Scott Pruitt, who has said that he does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary factor in global warming. The report insists otherwise.

In addition to Pruitt and other cabinet members’ disbelief about human influence on global warming, The Guardian reported yesterday that a series of emails shows staff at the Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is censoring the use of the term ‘climate change.’ Instead staff has been advised to use the term ‘weather extremes.’

“The current situation will provide an acid test of whether the Trump Administration is open to hearing the scientific truth about climate change or is so much in the thrall of fossil fuel interests that they are fixated on hiding the reality from the public,” Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University, told the Times.

The draft report, says The Washington Post, “estimates that human impact was responsible for an increase in global temperatures of 1.1 to 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit from 1951 to 2010.”

In addition, scientists studied all areas of the United States. Per the Post:

It also dismisses talk of a so-called hiatus in global warming, noting that the most recent years reinforce longer-term trends. Instead, the report says, the United States faces temperature increases of 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the next few decades “even under significantly reduced future emissions.” And the record-setting temperatures of recent years will become “relatively common in the near future.”

Aside from a rise in temperatures across the nation, the report also posits that air and ground temperatures in Alaska and the Arctic are rising at twice the rate of the global average. There are already coastal Native communities in Alaska that are wrestling with the realities—economic and cultural—of relocating inland to avoid rising sea levels.

As Colorlines has previously reported, coastal communities of color bear a disproportunite brunt of climate change in the U.S. “Such communities tend to live on lower-lying land more susceptible to flooding, and when it floods, they often lack the proper funds to deal with it and rebuild.”

The entire report can be read here on the Times’ site.