A federal draft report, acquired by the New York Times, concludes that climate change is real, the consequences grave, and the effects happening now. This evaluation is in stark contrast to the current anti-climate change rhetoric by the Trump administration.
"Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans," the draft report states. "Thousands of studies conducted by tens of thousands of scientists around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric, and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; disappearing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea level; and an increase in atmospheric water vapor. Rainfall patterns and storms are changing and the occurrence of droughts is shifting."
Scientists from 13 federal agencies worked on the report, which is congressionally mandated every four years and has already been signed off by the National Academy of Sciences. The 500-plus page report is one of the most comprehensive to date, piled high with data, reports, and figures. All that remains to be seen is whether the Trump administration will approve and release it to the public.
The draft was “leaked” (although “released” is a probably better term to use) due to fears that the Trump administration will attempt to withhold or suppress the report, according to the New York Times.
However, Katharine Hayhoe, one of the lead authors of the report, noted that the draft was publicly available via request.
Among the findings of the report, the scientists state that climate change is indeed driven by human activity. Even if we all stopped emitting greenhouse gases right now, world temperatures would still rise by 0.30°C (0.50°F) by 2100. The actual projected rise is as much as 2°C (3.6°F).
The scientists' fears about whether or not the report will be approved are not unfounded. President Trump and his cabinet have made their views on climate change clear, with the President announcing earlier this year that America is to withdraw from the Paris agreement.
Scott Pruitt, the current administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency – one of the 13 agencies that need to approve the report by August 18 – has said that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming.
All of this does not bode well for the report, which says in no uncertain terms that the "global mean atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration has now passed 400 ppm, a level that last occurred about 3 million years ago when global average temperature and sea level were significantly higher than today."
In addition, "the last few years have also seen record-breaking, climate-related weather extremes, the three warmest years on record for the globe, and continued decline in Arctic sea ice. These trends are expected to continue in the future over climate (multidecadal) timescales."
This news comes on the heels of a leaked string of emails from the US Department of Agriculture that instruct the staff to stop using the term "climate change" in favor of "weather extremes" instead.
What will the Trump administration choose to do with this report? Watch this space.