Editorial: New climate change report puts pressure on Trump administration

By The Easterner, Editorial Board

A new report, the Fourth National Climate Assessment, says that global warming could cost the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars per year by the end of the century. It concluded that evidence of human-induced climate change is enormous, and the amount of impact in the future is largely dependent on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

But not everyone is so quick to accept the findings.

“I’ve seen it,” President Donald Trump said at a White House press conference on Monday. “I’ve read some of it. And it’s fine.”

When asked about the potential economic impact Trump said, “I don’t believe it. No, no, I don’t believe it.”

The latest National Climate Assessment, which was released on Black Friday by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, is part of a series of reports on the impact of climate change. Hundreds of experts from U.S. government agencies and departments contributed to the findings.

“Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities,” the USGCRP report said. “The impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future—but the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the changes that will occur.”

White House spokesman Lindsay Walters said in a statement on Monday that the findings are “largely based on the most extreme scenario” and don’t account for new technologies and innovations that may reduce emissions and pollution.

This isn’t the first time Trump has made his climate change views known.

He tweeted in 2012 that global warming was a hoax. Last month on 60 Minutes, he wavered on the specific label, but wouldn’t say what is to blame.

“I think something’s happening,” Trump said. “Something’s changing and it’ll change back again. I don’t think it’s a hoax. I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s manmade. I will say this: I don’t want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs.”

The only problem: doing nothing may cost more.

“With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century—more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many U.S. states,” the USGCRP report said.

While continuing to deny scientific findings, Trump has promoted the production of fossil fuels. Last year, he declared his intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, which nearly 200 nations signed in 2015 to help tackle the effects of climate change. The U.S. cannot effectively withdraw until Nov. 4, 2020.

Trump’s comments on Monday came just one day after the Camp Fire, California’s deadliest wildfire on record, was contained after burning for 17 days. It decimated over 150,000 acres and killed at least 88 people, while over 150 remain missing.

In a tweet, Trump blamed California’s forest management and didn’t mention climate change. However according to the latest USGCRP report, these events are in direct relation to global warming and are likely to worsen.

“Some extreme events have already become more frequent, intense, widespread, or of longer duration,” the USGCRP report said. “And many are expected to continue to increase or worsen, presenting substantial challenges for built, agricultural, and natural systems.”

During 2017, three hurricanes­—Harvey, Irma and Maria—cost approximately $250 billion in damages, with Harvey at $125 billion alone, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The NOAA also approximates that the U.S. has experienced 44 billion-dollar climate and weather disasters since 2015 (through April 6, 2018), totaling nearly $400 billion.

Many major scientists agree that global warming and climate change is induced by humans. On Oct. 6, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which consists of over 1,300 scientists from the U.S. and other countries, published its own report. In its findings, the IPCC said that the global community has to reduce emissions by 40 to 50 percent in the next 12 years in order to stop the irreversible effects of climate change.

So, President Trump, the question isn’t whether global warming is real—your own government has said as much.

The question is: what are you going to do about it?