This analysis is part of the National Climate Assessment (NCA), which was mandated by Congress back in 1990. Those behind it release a new updated version every few years, and the last came out in 2014.
The most significant section of the NCA is the Climate Science Special Report. Composed by researchers across 13 federal agencies, it’s the defining climate science document the US produces, one that is specifically designed to influence American policy.
It’s fair to say that the Trump administration – infamous for suppressing, defunding, and purging climatologists and their work – would not be pleased to have such a blunt, clear-cut climate science report released with its name attached to it. Despite some fears they would try to censor it, the report is legally required to be produced and published, and there is little anyone opposing it can do to stop this.
Although this report’s work began way before Trump took office, it’s technically true to say that the Trump administration released it, something that’s quite thoroughly ironic.
Unsurprisingly, though, the White House is already seeking to downplay it. In a statement, spokesperson Raj Shah said: “The climate has changed and is always changing.” He focused on the report’s use of the word “uncertainty”, but out of context.
Make no mistake: this report makes it very clear that humans are warming the climate. It specifically links human activities to the changing climate with the term “extremely likely” – something that denotes a greater than 95 percent probability.
Remember, this is only one part of the NCA. The rest is due to be published in 2018, which means another volley of inconvenient science is around the corner.
Will this or the next part of the report influence how the Trump administration behaves with regards to climate science? Of course it won’t – but it reminds the world that although the White House might have its head in the sand, American scientists are forging on, burying alternate facts underneath a mountain of truth.