The Trump administration basically admitted that climate change is real and caused by humans, but it’s nothing to celebrate
Last Friday, climate experts and policy officials released the National Climate Assessment report, which government agencies are required to release every four years. Often, it’s a highly politicized document, and this year was no different. But despite initial speculation that the White House would edit or block the report, the Trump administration admitted that climate change is real and mainly caused by humans.
And while this admission (finally) sounds like something we should all be excited about, the Trump administration has no qualms ever about avoiding facts in the name of promoting its own ludicrous agenda, so this report is most likely nothing to celebrate. Trump’s past, present, and promised actions prove that he doesn’t care about climate change or have any interest in listening to facts.
According to the New York Times, White House officials say that Trump didn’t know about the report.
That could explain why it was released to begin with. According to the Washington Post, the report is 2,000 pages long and likely the most thorough report on climate change in the world right now. Robert Kopp, a climate scientist at Rutgers who is an expert on sea-level rise and served as one of the report’s lead authors, told the Washington Post, “I think this report is basically the most comprehensive climate science report in the world right now.”
If the administration took actions that showed they *believed* the most authoritative report on the environment, that would be one thing, but, come on: Trump’s not one to admit that maybe he’s been wrong, or that his ideas about fossil fuels and lowering America’s greenhouse gas emissions were half-baked.
The report states:
“This assessment concludes, based on extensive evidence, that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.
In addition, the report found that in the U.S. alone, climate change has led to droughts, flooding, and a “worrying” rise in air and ground temperatures. It adds:
"The frequency and intensity of extreme high temperature events are virtually certain to increase in the future as global temperature increases. Extreme precipitation events will very likely continue to increase in frequency and intensity throughout most of the world.
Climate change, caused by human behavior, has already cost the U.S. an estimated $1.1 trillion since 1980.
It’s telling that leading up to the release of the report on Friday, scientists assumed that the administration would block the report or edit it in some way. According to The Guardian, the George W. Bush administration edited the climate report and tried to suppress some its findings so that science wouldn’t get in the way of big business and the administration’s own crappy environmental policies. It definitely happens. Instead, the Trump administration actually sent the report back to various agencies for peer review, which is surprising.
Now that the report is out, the White House is trying to make it seem like not such a big deal. Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, said in the statement to reporters, “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.”
But it doesn’t matter that they want to undermine the report now; the real issue is that the Trump administration has been denying climate change out loud since forever. Donald Trump once suggested that climate change was a hoax from China intended to destroy our economy.
These tweets are tin foil hat-level paranoid.
It’s unlikely anyone has explained the concept to him even now.
Scott Pruitt, Trump’s appointee to head up the Environmental Protection Agency, said that he knows climate change is real — it’s just that he doesn’t think humans caused it. (Which is hilarious given the results of this new report.) But it’s not just totally misinformed tweets or old fashioned climate change denial that are the problem. Hey, if you don’t want to believe in climate change, that’s cool. But when you head up the agency dedicated to protecting our environment and deny science? That’s a problem.
Trump campaigned on a promise to revive the fossil fuel industry, despite the fact that all climate change experts agree that fossil fuels increase global greenhouse emissions. He’s obsessed with yelling into crowds of former coal miners that they’re getting their jobs back, promising so much that studies show some of his supporters are *refusing* to be trained for other jobs because they expect the coal industry to come back so soon. And you know what? As much as anyone who cares about the environment would like to think they’re delusional, if the Trump administration keeps things up, maybe it actually will.
Pruitt said in a speech earlier this month to a group of coal miners in a coal town in Kentucky that he was launching a formal repeal of the Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan was an Obama-era piece of legislation that was expected to reduce power sector emissions by 32 percent by 2030. (Coal and natural gas-fueled power plants are responsible for an estimated one-third of America’s carbon dioxide emissions.) Pruitt has been on a mission to repeal it since it was launched in 2015, when he organized opponents of the legislation as Oklahoma governor.
Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh, told the New York Times that fossil fuels are hurting some of the world’s poorest countries.“Any country or company continuing to champion further exploration for and mining of coal and even other fossil fuels from now on would be willfully carrying out a crime against humanity, and they would be held accountable,” he said.
Trump has also formally announced that he plans to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. According to the accord, the U.S. can’t leave the agreement until 2020, but Trump is already counting down the days until the other member countries create “better terms” for the U.S., according to White House spokespeople. Under the Paris Climate Agreement, the U.S. pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below the 2005 level in 2025 and to make “best efforts” to reduce emissions by 28 percent overall. Bringing back coal, ramping up fossil fuel production, or dismantling environmental regulations on industry — all which the U.S. is currently pledging to do more of under Trump — is no way to do that.
Speaking of deregulating, the Trump administration has actually done a lot of work in that regard. There are 25 EPA regulations and other policies that have already been overturned, like rolling back the offshore drilling ban in the Arctic, or bans on harmful pesticides, and another 27 that are in progress. The Trump administration has also championed the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines, but there are seemingly smaller, less exciting rules he’s overturned that could potentially do more damage, like not forcing highways to track emissions or companies to report methane emissions.
So no, it doesn’t mean anything that the administration “allowed” a report on climate change to be released when so much harm is being done to the environment by this administration. In just under a year, the Trump administration has started to unravel years of science-based policy. Climate policy wasn’t anywhere near the best it could be when Trump took office, but it was slowly getting better. Trump’s obsession with deluding voters in old coal towns and with conspiracy theories about China means that it will take that much longer to undo the damage his administration’s done, if it’s not already too late.