- Fiza Pirani The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The comprehensive Climate Science Special Report, part of the National Climate Assessment, cites human activity as the primary culprit of climate change.
Members of the Trump administration, including Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, have dismissed the impact of man-made climate change in the past.
And earlier this year, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris agreement, a pact sponsored by the United Nations to bring nearly 200 nations together to reduce the impact of climate change.
This latest draft was prepared by the EPA and 12 other government agencies, each of which must sign off on the final copy by Friday, Aug. 18.
Here are seven key takeaways from the federal climate change report copy:
1. There’s more and more evidence to back claims about human-caused climate change.
The scientists noted that humans are the “dominant” cause of any observed changes in the climate.
“Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change,” the report’s authors wrote.
Additionally, the draft said that it’s “extremely likely” that more than half of the global average temperature increase worldwide since 1951 can be linked to human impact.
2. Every corner of the U.S. is impacted by climate change.
Average annual U.S. temperatures are expected to continue rising. Depending on future emissions levels, authors estimate increases of 5-7.5 degrees Fahrenheit by the late century.
But in Alaska (and the Arctic) temperatures are rising twice as fast as the global average.
Western, southwestern and southeast regions of the continent are getting dryer, while the Southern Plains and Midwest are getting wetter, authors wrote.
3. It’s possible that extreme weather can be attributed to climate change.
The report breaks new ground when it comes to what’s referred to as “attribution science,” which draws possible links between climate change and specific weather events.
Previously, scientists have been hesitant to make the link, but in the authors behind the new federal report drew connections with specific weather events including Europe’s 2003 heat waves and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
4. Hurricanes in the eastern U.S. are projected to be wetter and potentially more destructive.
Pointing to evidence from Hurricane Sandy, the authors concluded with confidence that climate change intensified the effects of some extreme weather events.
How? Warming temperatures are connected to rising sea levels. And rising sea levels during a storm cause wind and other weather conditions to move that water onto the shore, a phenomenon known as storm surge, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
These findings echo previous claims by the academic community.
5. If humans stop emitting greenhouse gasses today, temperatures will still climb — and climate surprises will still come.
Compared to today’s temperatures, global temperatures will be at least 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer over the century even if humans immediately stopped emitting greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, study authors wrote.
In fact, scientists said the projected actual rise will be as much as 3.6 degrees Farenheit.
This is because climate models aren’t able to comprehend all of earth’s complex climate elements.
Scientists also warned of the “significant possibility” of future climate surprises, noting that the risk of those surprises will be greater if more emissions continue or increase.
6. Flooding due to rising sea levels is already a problem.
Scientists concluded that in the U.S., tidal flooding is already happening on both coasts, including in Miami, Florida, and in Norfolk, Virginia.
“By the end of the century, for example, parts of Charleston, S.C., may flood at high tide nearly every day,” the New York Times reported.
And parts of San Francisco are also highly susceptible to frequent tidal flooding, according to the report.
7. Scientists are worried the Trump administration will suppress the report’s findings about manmade climate change.
Katharine Hayhoe, lead author and Texas Tech University climate scientist, told Politico that there’s no alternative, credible explanation for the sharp increase in temperatures aside from human activity.
But Hayhoe, along with other scientists involved, are concerned the report’s findings will be suppressed by the Trump administration, the New York Times reported.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee said the administration will not comment on the draft report until its scheduled release date.
Full report PDF below:
According to a 2016 report form the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, nearly 70 percent of Georgians believe global warming is real and 55 percent said they were concerned about its impact.
The new federal report’s findings for the southeastern U.S. and Georgia reflect what scientists have previously found to be true.
While urban areas of the state are more likely to experience extreme heat and floods, the rural parts of Georgia are more susceptible to drought, Marshall Shepherd, meteorologist and director of University of Georgia’s Atmospheric Sciences program, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.