“It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” reads the Fourth National Climate Assessment, released on Friday by 13 federal agencies and approved by the White House. “For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”
First of all, as the Washington Post’s report on its release notes, the government is required by law to produce a National Climate Assessment every four years. However, some reasonably speculated—considering the Trump administration’s solidly batshit position on climate science—that the White House would attempt to alter the report, as the Bush administration did, or even prevent its release.
This is, after all, an administration that put an energy industry asset in charge of the EPA, stripped mentions of climate change from agency websites and became essentially a rogue nation by extracting itself from the Paris Climate Agreement. Trump and his oily band of brothers have been (loudly) of the mind that reports like the one they just signed off on are overblown or downright inaccurate. But the Post reports that the Trump administration didn’t alter its scientific findings, just that they tweaked some policy language.
The findings themselves are reliably awful. Global surface air temperature has increased on average by about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1.0 degrees Celsius) since 1901, marking “the warmest period in the history of modern civilization.” This has led to, as we’ve seen, “record-breaking, climate-related weather extremes,” and “continued growth in CO2 emissions over this century and beyond would lead to an atmospheric concentration not experienced in tens to hundreds of millions of years.” If emissions are not dramatically curbed, the report estimates, the average global temperature could increase by as much as 9°F (5°C) or more by 2100—the results of which would be catastrophic.
The report also puts the kibosh on arguments that many in the employ of the current administration have used.
“Over the last century,” the report reads, “there are no alternative explanations supported by the evidence that are either credible or that can contribute more than marginally to the observed patterns. There is no convincing evidence that natural variability can account for the amount of and the pattern of global warming observed over the industrial era.”
In a statement, principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah repeated the misleading refrain that the climate “is always changing,” but went on to cite climate change as a “risk,” tout carbon dioxide emissions as declining and note that “the US will continue... to support technology, innovation and the development of modern and efficient infrastructure that will reduce emissions.”
Meanwhile, at an upcoming United Nations climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, the Trump administration reportedly plans to promote fossil fuels as, somehow, tools of climate change mitigation, a contention as absurd as Trump’s belief that there is something called “clean coal,” or that more Co2 is somehow a good thing. From the Times:
The program is billed as a discussion of how American energy resources, particularly fossil fuels, can help poor countries meet electricity needs and drive down greenhouse gas emissions. Entitled “The Role of Cleaner and More Efficient Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power in Climate Mitigation,” it will feature speakers from Peabody Energy, a coal company; NuScale Power, a nuclear engineering firm; and Tellurian, a liquefied natural gas exporter.
So that should go over well.