The Climate Science Special Report is intended to guide the preparation of the National Climate Assessment, released every four years. The last assessment was in 2014. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
The draft U.S. climate report describes overwhelming evidence of manmade climate change underway right now and the need to get to zero net emissions.
The final draft of the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Climate Science Special Report, prepared and meticulously peer reviewed by dozens of federal climate scientists and academic consultants, is as weighty as it is stark. And after an eleventh-hour leak to The New York Times, it may become as definitive as the thoroughly footnoted body of science it encompasses.
Overwhelming evidence, the report says, shows that manmade climate change is being felt every day, and is worsening fast.
The U.S. Global Change Research Program, an interagency umbrella group that the Trump administration has moved to deprive of significant financing, made no bones on crucial elements of the modern scientific consensus on climate change:
- “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” the report said. “There is no convincing alternative explanation.”
- With significant reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases, it is possible to keep warming within the Paris treaty’s target of below 2 degrees Celsius; without them, expected warming could reach 5 degrees or more by the end of the century.
- “To stabilize climate, however, it is not enough to halt the growth in annual carbon emissions. It is projected that global net carbon emissions will eventually need to reach zero.”
None of this should come as any surprise—the report is basically a synthesis of the current climate science consensus.
Indeed, its gist had been known for months. An early draft was released for public comment a month before President Obama left office. It was reviewed in detail by an expert panel at the National Academy of Sciences, the gold standard for peer review, which gave its imprimatur in April.
But now, the final draft—the fifth revision, approaching 700 pages—is ready for final approval by the Trump Administration, which includes environmental, energy and other regulatory agencies run by people deeply opposed to the mainstream scientific views that run through this report, chapter and verse.
Would the Trump Administration deep-six the report? Some scientists involved in the process reportedly were worried about that.