The climate science report Trump hoped to ignore will resonate outside of Washington, DC
Posted by admin on 8th November 2017
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Last week, without comment, the White House published a study officially titled the Climate Science Special Report. Contrary to many statements and positions articulated by President Trump, members of his Cabinet, his surrogates and his supporters, the report clearly states that Earth’s climate is changing, and “it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

The study was prepared pursuant to a 1990 law in which Congress directed government scientists to prepare and transmit a report to the president and Congress every four years assembling and interpreting findings from the U.S. Global Change Research Program. This initiative draws together work from 13 federal agencies that conduct or use research on global change and its impacts, in areas ranging from agriculture to national defense. The report is part I of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, with more to follow.

Along with many other others, I was concerned that the Trump administration would reject the report’s conclusions, thereby emboldening contrarians and giving decision-makers at all levels of government cover to ignore climate change in their policy decisions.

Now that the administration has implicitly accepted the report, the question is whether it will have any impact on federal policy. In my view, the chances of that are slim to none. However, letting the report stand has strengthened the case for action to slow and otherwise respond to climate change across the country, notwithstanding President Trump’s reluctance to lead from Washington.