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Opinion

August 12, 2017

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It’s our fault

It’s our fault

Embattled climate scientists working in 13 various US government agencies threw down the gauntlet before the Trump administration by releasing an over 600-page report on climate change in the US, the work of several years intended to comply with a Congressional requirement for such a report every four years.

The scientists involved in releasing the leaked document – the fifth draft of the 2018 report – told the Times they were releasing the document early in draft form for fear that the Trump Administration and Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, climate change denier Scott Pruitt, would attempt to deep-six, or at least drastically revise their work and conclusions.

Their fears are understandable. Trump has called climate change a hoax and a Chinese conspiracy designed to harm the US, and Pruitt, while recently at least acknowledging that the global climate is getting hotter, claims that it is both impossible to know to what extent human activity is to blame, and that the trend going forward is impossible to predict.

The latest report, however, debunks all of those ignorant assertions by the country’s current leadership, warning that the warming trend both globally and in the US is undeniable, and dire.

According to the document, which is dated June 28 and titled ‘US Global Change Research Program: Climate Science Special Report’ (CSSR):

“Since the last National Climate Assessment was published (in 2014), 2014 became the warmest year on record globally, 2015 surpassed 2014 by a wide margin; and 2016 surpassed 2015. Sixteen of the last 17 years are the warmest years on record for the globe.”

The report goes on to state that ‘many lines’ of scientific evidence ‘demonstrate that it is extremely likely’ (meaning 95-100% certain) “that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century”. They explain that “There are no convincing alternative explanations supported by the extent of the observational evidence. Solar output changes and internal natural variability can only contribute marginally to the observed changes in climate over the last century, and we find no convincing evidence for natural cycles in the observational record that could explain the observed changes in climate”.

The grim picture looking out to 2100, which it must be noted is easily within the lifetime of children living today:

“With significant reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases, the global annually averaged temperature rise could be limited to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Without major reductions in these emissions, the increase in annual average global temperatures relative to pre-industrial times could reach 9 degrees Fahrenheit or more by the end of this century.”

Think about that last number. Imagine average temperatures where you live in summer rising by 9 degrees. This year, the temperature in Phoenix has been hitting 120. Adding nine degrees to that would make it a fatal risk to go outside for most people, even briefly. Even in the Northeast, it would mean many 100 plus degree days in summer, which would preclude outdoor work like construction, roadwork, yard work or farming.

The study, in terms of its global conclusions, was based upon the last report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released in 2014. That data, though, has already been overtaken by events, from the unanticipated thawing of the ice sheet in Antarctica, to the ongoing pace of melting of both the ice sheet on Greenland and the ice sheet that covers the Arctic Ocean, now close to disappearing during the summer months, and even this past winter suffering some melting episodes.

Also not anticipated in the last IPCC report was the dramatic melting of permafrost, both in the Siberian and North American tundra regions, and also under the shallow parts of the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia, Alaska and Canada.

This article has been excerpted from: ‘A Sobering National Climate Change Report’.

Courtesy: Counterpunch.org

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