The Trump administration released a dire scientific report Friday detailing the growing threats of #climate change. The report stands in stark contrast to the administration’s efforts to downplay humans’ role in global warming, withdraw from an international climate accord and reverse Obama-era policies aimed at curbing U.S. greenhouse-gas output.
The White House did not seek to prevent the release of the government’s National Climate Assessment, which is mandated by law, despite the fact that its findings sharply contradict the administration’s policies. The report affirms that climate change is driven almost entirely by human action, warns of potential sea-level rise as high as eight feet by the year 2100, and enumerates climate-related damage across the United States that is already occurring as a result of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit of global warming since 1900.
“It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” the document reports. “For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”
The report’s release underscores the extent to which the machinery of the federal scientific establishment, operating in multiple agencies across the government, continues to grind on even as top administration officials have minimized or disparaged its findings. Federal scientists have continued to author papers and issue reports on climate change, for example, even as political appointees have altered the wording of news releases or blocked civil servants from speaking about their conclusions in public forums. The climate assessment process is dictated by a 1990 law that Democratic and Republican administrations have followed.
The White House on Friday sought to downplay the significance of the study and its findings.
“The climate has changed and is always changing. As the Climate Science Special Report states, the magnitude of future climate change depends significantly on ‘remaining uncertainty in the sensitivity of Earth’s climate to [greenhouse gas] emissions,’” White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement. “In the United States, energy related carbon dioxide emissions have been declining, are expected to remain flat through 2040, and will also continue to decline as a share of world emissions.”
Shah added that the Trump administration “supports rigorous scientific analysis and debate.” He said it will continue to “promote access to the affordable and reliable energy needed to grow economically” and to back advancements that improve infrastructure and ultimately reduce emissions.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and President Trump have all questioned the extent of humans’ contribution to climate change. One of the EPA’s Web pages posted scientific conclusions similar to those in the new report until earlier this year, when Pruitt’s deputies ordered it removed.