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A leaked climate change report by US federal agencies proves inconvenient truths for Trump

A leaked climate change report authored by 13 federal agencies demonstrates that climate change is caused by human activity and isn’t just a phase. Will Trump approve it?

The US Climate Science Special Report conclusively demonstrates that the climate changes we’ve been experiencing for years isn’t just a phase. The draft document was prepared by 13 federal agencies and hasn’t received US President Donald Trump’s approval for official publication but was uploaded to a nonprofit internet digital library in January and recently published by American daily newspaper The New York Times. It constitutes a comprehensive governmental study of the changes in climate observed in the US and globally over the past years.

donald trump
President Donald Trump © Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images

What the leaked climate change report says

The US Climate Science Special Report shows dangerous patterns of global climate change, including the continuous increase in temperatures, intensity of hurricanes, and general precipitation. The authors enumerate countless examples of damaging changes “from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” emphasising that, “it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century”. The changes might not be stoppable anymore, they conclude.

“Sixteen of the last 17 years are the warmest years on record for the globe,” warn the report’s authors. In the period between 1986 and 2016, in contrast to the years from 1901 to 1960, the annual average temperature in the contiguous United States increased by 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit (0.7 degrees Celsius). However, scientists are concerned not only by the rise in temperatures itself, but also by longer-term climate records that indicate that in recent decades temperatures have risen faster than in the past 1,700 years

A Chinese man wears a mask as he waits to cross the road near the CCTV building during heavy smog  in Beijing, China. In 2014, United States President Barack Obama and China's president Xi Jinping agreed on a plan to limit carbon emissions by their countries, which are the world's two biggest polluters, at a summit in Beijing. © Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
A man wears a mask during heavy smog in Beijing, China. In 2014, United States President Barack Obama and China’s president Xi Jinping agreed on a plan to limit their countries’ carbon emissions, which are the world’s two biggest polluters © Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Will Trump approve it?

Despite being a significant drop in the sea of already established facts, a number of scholars have expressed concerns about whether the current administration will recognise the importance of the report. The findings presented go directly against the policies and opinions advocated by both Trump and Scott Pruitt, head of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), one of the 13 agencies that the document has been submitted to for approval.

In the past, they both cast doubts over the necessity of environmental protections. “A lot of it’s a hoax, it’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a money-making industry, OK?,” is how Trump dismissed global warming during a campaign speech made in December 2015. In the meantime, Scott Pruitt has refused to accept the link between CO2 as a pollutant and global climate change. “I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact,” he said.

As a result of this attitude, the Trump administration has decided to withdraw from the landmark Paris climate accord, the major international commitment to reduce the effects of global warming. The decision, announced in June 2017, has met with vocal condemnation from heads of states worldwide. “We will succeed because we’re fully committed, because wherever we live, whoever we are, we all share the same responsibility: make our planet great again,” is how French President Emmanuel Macron responded to this. The question remains whether the EPA was aware of the findings before the announcement of withdrawing from the accord was made, and if the new report will force the administration to reconsider its stance.

Defendants pose behind a banner outside Court before appearing on a charge of wilful obstruction after blocking a road near Heathrow Airport in protest at climate change on December 2016 in London, England. © Carl Court/Getty Images
Defendants pose behind a banner outside court before appearing on a charge of wilful obstruction after blocking a road near Heathrow Airport in protest at climate change in London, England © Carl Court/Getty Images

The fable that Donald Trump has been systematically building is troublesome at the very least. Calling environmental activists people who “believe” in global warming, as if this phenomenon is a debatable theory or a questionable ideology, dangerously downplays the gravity of situation that should concern every human being, the president of a leading polluting country in particular.

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