As Trump questions warming, climate report warns of dire risks to U.S.

This story was
originally published by HuffPost and is reproduced
here as part of the Climate
Desk
 collaboration.

The United States already warmed on average 1.8 degrees
Fahrenheit over the past century and will warm at least 3 more
degrees by 2100 unless fossil fuel use is dramatically curtailed,
scientists from more than a dozen federal agencies concluded in
their latest in-depth assessment.

The 13-agency consensus, authored by more than 300 researchers,
found in the second volume of the Fourth National Climate
Assessment makes it clear the world is barreling toward
catastrophic ― perhaps irreversible ― climate
change
. The report concluded that
warming “could increase by 9°F (5°C) or more by the end of this
century” without significant emissions reductions.

“Observations of global average temperature provide clear and
compelling evidence the global average temperature is much higher
and is rising more rapidly than anything modern civilization has
experienced,” said David Easterling, chief of the scientific
services division at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville,
North Carolina. “This warming trend can only be explained by
human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases into the
atmosphere.”

It’s the sort of staggering reality the Trump
administration
seems eager to minimize. Ahead of the
Thanksgiving holiday, Trump antagonized climate scientists by
tweeting,
once again
, that he believes cold weather disproves long-term
trends of a warming climate.

“Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS –
Whatever happened to Global Warming?” he posted Wednesday on
Twitter.

That the White House opted to release the long-awaited update on
climate change ― which Congress mandates the administration
provide every four years ― on Black Friday, a popular shopping
holiday the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, indicates it wanted
fewer people to see the news about the findings. Monica Allen, a
spokeswoman for NOAA, repeatedly pushed back against questions
about when the White House decided to move up the release of the
report.

“The decision was made in the last week or so,” she said.
“Please, I ask you to focus on the content of the report. The
substance.”

The report adds to an ever-growing, all-but-irrefutable body of
scientific research that shows climate change is real and driven by
human carbon emissions ― a reality that President Donald Trump
and his team refuse to accept as they pursue a fossil fuel-focused,
“energy dominance” agenda.

Last year, the U.S. Global Change Research Program
released a special report
― the first volume of the Fourth
National Climate Assessment ― that found Earth has entered the
warmest period “in the history of modern civilization,” with
global average air temperatures having increased by 1.8 degrees
Fahrenheit over the last 115 years. And in October, the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the leading United
Nations consortium of researchers studying human-caused climate
change, issued a report warning world governments must cut global
emissions in half over the next 12 years to avoid warming of 2.3
degrees Fahrenheit, beyond which climate change is forecast to
cause a cataclysmic $54 trillion in damages.

A series of devastating natural disasters, worsened by rising
temperatures, made those findings tangible. In October, Typhoon
Yutu, the most powerful storm all year, struck the Northern Mariana
Islands, plunging the U.S. territory into chaos just a year after
Hurricane Maria left thousands dead in Puerto Rico and the U.S.
Virgin Islands. California, meanwhile, is suffering its deadliest
and most destructive wildfire on record during what was once the
state’s rainy season.

Last year was the United States’
second-hottest
in history, and the costliest in terms of
climate-related disasters, with a
record $306 billion
in damages. Sixteen of the last 17 years
have been the warmest on record globally.

In January, the Trump administration
unveiled a proposal to open nearly all U.S. waters
to oil and
gas development. It has since worked to
roll back safeguards
adopted after the catastrophic 2010
Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In October, the
Department of the Interior approved the development of the first
oil production facility in Arctic waters off Alaska, but the
company behind the project has since had to extend its construction
timeline due to dwindling sea ice brought on by Arctic warming,
as NPR
reported
.

The latest findings are likely to bolster the growing protests
and legal battles over climate change. Over the past two weeks,
activists in the United States and United Kingdom staged major
demonstrations. In Washington, youth activists with the climate
justice group Sunrise Movement stormed Democratic leaders’
offices demanding support for the so-called Green New Deal, the
only policy to emerge in the American political mainstream that
comes close to the scale of economic change needed to make a
serious dent in national emissions. British activists stopped
traffic this week as part of the so-called Extinction
Rebellion.

The assessment could have weight in some critical court cases.
The Supreme Court is considering a landmark suit brought by 21
plaintiffs between the ages of 11 and 22, who accuse the federal
government of violating their civil rights to a safe climate by
pursuing fossil fuel-focused energy policies. And various states
and cities are suing big oil companies over climate damages, a
number that could grow since Democrats
scored victories in a number of attorney general
seats in the
midterm elections.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline
As Trump questions warming, climate report warns of dire risks to
U.S.
on Nov 23, 2018.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News 2
As Trump questions warming, climate report warns of dire risks to U.S.