A Cape Town resident collecting water in January.CreditJoao Silva/The New York Times
By Justin Gillis Feb. 15, 2018
The Trump administration is seeking to withdraw the United States from the international accord reached in Paris in 2015 to fight climate change. It is trying to rescind regulations on the issue. It has even scrubbed mentions of global warming from government websites. Yet its attempt to suppress the facts has not entirely succeeded, with federal agencies continuing to issue warnings, including in a major climate report published last year.
The latest climate alarm came this week in a Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community. Here is what the document, issued by Daniel R. Coats, the director of national intelligence, said about climate change and other environmental problems, with my annotations:
A real problem
The impacts of the long-term trends toward a warming climate, more air pollution, biodiversity loss, and water scarcity are likely to fuel economic and social discontent — and possibly upheaval — through 2018.
Only six weeks into the year, this is already coming true. Cape Town, the second-largest city in South Africa, is so low on water after an extended drought that it may be forced to shut off the taps in early April. Water scarcity is a factor in the violent conflicts in Syria and Yemen, and in both countries, control of water supplies is being used as a weapon of war.