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Trump’s administration comes up with report linking human activity to climate change

The climate science special report said the global annual average temperature has increased by more than 0.9 degrees C between 1880 to 2015.

world Updated: Aug 08, 2017 20:48 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
US President Donald Trump,climate change,Paris Agreement
Protesters demonstrate against Donald Trump outside the White House on March 28, 2017.(NYT File )

US President Donald Trump’s administration has given him a draft of a report that incontrovertibly links human activity to climate change and warns of significant warming if nothing is done.

The climate science special report said the global annual average temperature has increased by over 1.6 degrees F (0.9 degrees C) between 1880 to 2015, and the average temperatures in recent decades over most of the world has been much higher than at any time in at least the past 1700 years.

“Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are primarily responsible for observed climate changes in the industrial era. There are no alternative explanations, and no natural cycles are found in the observational record that can explain the observed changes in climate,” the report said.

Put together by 12 federal agencies, the report’s findings are contrary to what Trump, his cabinet colleagues and many Republicans believe — that global warming is a natural phenomenon but the impact and role of human activity is far from proven.

Trump has called climate change a hoax, tweeting in 2012, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

After taking over as president, Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, saying it unfairly favoured some countries like India and China. The US formally communicated to the UN last week that it was withdrawing from the deal.

Though Trump didn’t question the science behind climate change, and said he might consider rejoining the pact at a later stage and that the United States will continue to work to reduce greenhouse gases, he has also rolled back some regulations introduced by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

And Trump has packed the administration with climate change deniers. Scott Pruitt, who is in charge of the environmental protection agency, has said, “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.”

Rick Perry, who heads the energy department that maintains America’s nuclear weapons stockpile, has similar views, which permeates most of the administration. A department of agriculture note from earlier in the year directed employees not to use the phrase “climate change”.

A final call on the fate of the report, which is being reviewed by the White House, will likely be taken by Trump himself. And the report leaves him with few options, should he care to take it seriously. It projects a near-term rise of temperature in the US by 2.5 degrees F (1.4 degrees C). But the rise is expected to be much bigger towards the latter part of the century — by 5.0 degrees F (2.8 degrees C) with lower emissions and, by a whopping, 8.7 degrees F (4.8 degrees C) with higher emissions.

Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geoscience and international affairs at Princeton University, told The New York Times, which first wrote about the report, “This is the first case in which an analysis of climate change of this scope has come up in the Trump administration, and scientists will be watching very carefully to see how they handle it.”

First Published: Aug 08, 2017 20:44 IST