A draft report compiled by scientists from 13 federal agencies and bearing dire news about a rapidly warming planet was leaked by the New York Times on Monday night amid fears that President Donald Trump’s White House would try to suppress it.
The Times obtained an exclusive copy of the report, which concludes that evidence for a changing global climate “abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans.”
The report’s authors note that thousands of studies conducted by tens of thousands of scientists have offered evidence that big changes are occurring on both land and sea — affecting everything from fluctuating ocean temperatures to melting glaciers to rising sea levels — and stressed that human influence is at least partially to blame for the documented global temperature increases of the past 60 years.
“Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are primarily responsible for the observed climate changes in the industrial era,” the report reads in part. “There are no alternative explanations, and no natural cycles are found in the observational record that can explain the observed changes in climate.”
It’s the first time a climate change report of this scope has been released during Trump’s presidency — and at least one of its authors told the Times, on condition of anonymity, that there were concerns among its stewards that it might never see the light of day.
The report is in direct tension with Trump’s stance on climate change
Those anxieties aren’t unfounded. The Environmental Protection Agency — one of the 13 agencies that must sign off on the report by Aug. 18, as the Times noted — is currently run by noted climate-change doubter Scott Pruitt, who doesn’t believe that carbon dioxide has a hand in global warming.
And in addition to the fact that other key agencies — including NASA and both the energy and interior departments — are populated with Trump-appointed officials who have expressed doubt about climate change and mankind’s role in it, the report’s findings are also in tension with Trump’s own tendency to downplay assertions about the severity of man-made climate change.
In less than seven months in office, the biggest environmental policies Trump has pushed have been almost wholly at odds with the draft report’s findings. His key energy initiative — a “coal comeback” that would revitalize the mining sector — prioritizes fossil fuels over clean alternatives like wind and solar. He swiftly abandoned the landmark Paris climate agreement, designed to curb global carbon emissions, on the grounds that it put the U.S. at an economic disadvantage. And he cleared the way for the completion of the hotly contested Keystone XL pipeline, which will transport large quantities of crude oil across North America while creating just “35 permanent, full-time jobs,” the Times reported.
With the report stating that every corner of the U.S. has been impacted by global warming — and projecting a continued increase of another 5.0 to 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit (2.8 to 4.8 degrees Celsius) by the end of the century, depending on future emissions levels — the science behind man-made climate change is seemingly more solid than ever. The question now will be how the Trump administration deals with that information going forward.