On Tuesday, the New York Times received a draft of a not-yet-public report on climate change written by scientists from thirteen different federal agencies. The report, which is currently awaiting approval by the Trump administration, paints a bleak picture of the effects of climate change and the role that humans have played in its escalation.
The report concludes that global temperatures have risen significantly in the past forty years, making temperatures between 1980 and 2017 the warmest in over 1500 years. What’s more, the authors of the report said it was “extremely likely” that over 50% of the temperature increase in the past seventy years was caused by human action—namely, the emission of greenhouse gases. The report predicts that global temperatures will increase by five to 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, and states that even if humans stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, the earth would still warm by at least 0.5 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100. Among the most ground-breaking of the report’s claims is that extreme weather events induced by climate change, including heatwaves and droughts, can be directly attributed to human action.
The findings of this report directly contradict the stance on climate change taken by the president and other Republican officials and politicians – that the effects of climate change are exaggerated and that evidence linking human influence to climate change is inconclusive.
Scott Pruitt, the director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), denies the fact that carbon dioxide contributes to global warming; the EPA is among the government agencies that needs to approve the report before it is officially released.
Trump himself provoked outrage from environmental groups and public officials alike when he withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, an international pledge to reduce carbon emissions signed by every nation in the world besides Syria and Nicaragua. Additionally, Trump’s budget plan proposes a 31 percent cut to the EPA’s funding, which would eliminate 20 percent of the workforce and cut over 50 EPA programs. In addition, the EPA would be cut by 2 percent each year after 2018 for the next 10 years.
A scientist involved in the writing of the report told the New York Times that he and his colleagues feared, given the anti-climate science stance taken by the Trump administration, that their findings would be suppressed or modified. According to the Washington Post, similar climate change reports have fallen prey to political influence in the past; Philip A. Cooney, an official under the Bush administration, modified the language of a 2002 climate change report to make findings seem more inconclusive.
Women, especially those in poorer countries, are disproportionately impacted by climate change. Women in developing nations tend to rely on food production to make a living, meaning that erratic weather can be economically devastating for women and their families. What’s more, women are more likely to be impoverished than men, and poorer people tend to live in less desirable areas that are vulnerable to floods, droughts, or storms. Women are also more likely than men to die in natural disasters, meaning that climate change puts women’s lives at risk.
Media Resources: New York Times 8/7/17; Washington Post 8/8/17; CNN 8/8/17; NPR 8/8/17; Mother Jones 11/19/09; United Nations Population Fund 11/18/09; Feminist Majority Foundation 6/2/17, 3/17/17