Like a spoiled kid in a toy store, President Donald Trump has played with just about every lever of American government available to him. Unlike his moderate predecessors, he has rampaged about, playing fast and loose with immigration laws, trade deals, long-established alliances and America’s hard-earned status as a champion of human rights. But the most egregious in its long-term effects has been his implacable disbelief in climate change and global warming. He tore up the Paris accord, decimated the EPA and declared open season for exploitation of mineral, fuels and forestry resources. As a part of this, his Administration sneaked out a hugely important document on Black Friday )the day after Thanksgiving when everyone is out shopping) in the hope it would go unnoticed.
The Fourth National Climate Assessment report has a dire warning for all humans within its more than 1,650 pages: People need to take immediate action on global warming to avoid “substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades.” The report, produced by 300 scientists and 13 federal agencies, is hard-hitting in its conclusions by being specific how the American economy and way of life will suffer if global warming continues to be ignored by the biggest economy in the world. The report begins:
“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 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.”
The assumption that current and future climate conditions will resemble the recent past is no longer valid. Observations collected around the world provide significant, clear, and compelling evidence that global average temperature is much higher, and is rising more rapidly, than anything modern civilization has experienced, with widespread and growing impacts. The warming trend observed over the past century can only be explained by the effects that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases.
While Europe may have experienced unprecedented temperatures and storm violence, because of its size and varied ecosystems, the USA is dealing with a wider range of problem and their severity. From hurricanes in the Gulf, to drought in Colorado and Nebraska, to wildfires in California, authorities are struggling to cope and need little convincing that climate change is the driver. The future will see more:
- high temperature extremes
- heavy precipitation events,
- high tide flooding events (esp. Gulf of Mexico)
- ocean acidification and warming
- forest fires, especially in the US West
- more severe and more frequent tornadoes in the Mid-West
- more severe (category 5) and more frequent hurricanes
Despite insouciance radiating from the White House even normally sceptical Republicans are shifting their stance. Originally, Republicans supported “developing the technology to meet our environmental needs by providing market-based incentives to advance said technology”. More recently, a number of more thoughtful members have realised that long-term profitability requires a stable and benign environment. Trump is starting to look isolated.
Many climate change effects are projected to increase. By the middle of this century, annual losses in the United States due to climate change could reach hundreds of billions of dollars. Global climate is changing rapidly compared to the pace of natural variations in climate that have occurred throughout Earth’s history. Global average temperature has increased by about 1.8°F from 1901 to 2016, and observational evidence does not support any credible natural explanations for this amount of warming; instead, the evidence consistently points to human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse or heat-trapping gases, as the dominant cause.
The American press is raising quite a stink of the report and whether it was covered up. On p[resent form, Trump will dismiss this as another piece of ‘fake news’. He is just egotistical enough to keep that up for the rest of his term. If America does stick its head in the sand, things will get out of hand and, in the large portion of our land mass lying within 10 metres of sea level, it would be wise to get yer wellies on.