What’s in the Climate Report the Trump Administration Doesn’t Want You to Read?
As families across the U.S. gathered together to enjoy Thanksgiving weekend, the government released an urgent report on climate change Friday, warning that human-caused global warming could have dire consequences for American lives and livelihoods.
"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 report begins. "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 report marks volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, the work of 1,000 people, 300 top scientists and 13 federal agencies operating under the auspices of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, CNN reported. The report's clear and urgent message on climate change runs counter to President Trump's climate denialism and decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement to keep global temperatures "well below" two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Director of the Technical Support Unit at the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information David Easterling told CNN there was "no external interference in the report's development," but some speculated the report's content was why the administration chose to release the report on Friday, when Americans would be distracted by the biggest shopping day of the year, as EcoWatch reported.
The report was originally scheduled to be released in December at a large scientific conference, and its early release took its authors by surprise, The Atlantic reported. But Climate Central reporter John Upton tweeted that any attempt to bury the news "backfired."
"The news is everywhere," Upton wrote Saturday. "After details of the plan leaked, the government confirmed the release in advance, giving outlets time to prepare. And yesterday was a slow news day."
The Trump admin's attempt to bury news of somber climate findings on Black Friday backfired. The news is everywhere… https://t.co/B1ubmA60JR— John Upton (@John Upton)1543066933.0
So what's in the report that the Trump administration doesn't want you to read? Here are some key takeaways.
1. Climate Change Kills
The report found that in the Midwest, the region projected to see the biggest temperature increase, 2,000 more people could die a year by 2090 because of heat waves, CNN reported. Any decrease in deaths due to warmer winters will be offset in most regions by an increase in deaths due to warmer summers, Vox reported. Other health hazards that will increase due to climate change include mosquito and tick-borne diseases and air pollution due to an increase in wildfires.
The report's findings on wildfires, which it says could burn up to six times more forested area by 2050, are especially timely in light of the Camp Fire that has now killed at least 85 people in Northern California, as USA Today reported Sunday.
Of immediate relevance, the report quantifies the extent to which climate change has increased the area burned by w… https://t.co/NgebKnGkto— Prof. Katharine Hayhoe (@Prof. Katharine Hayhoe)1543003193.0
2. It's the Economy, Stupid
Trump's argument for withdrawing from the Paris agreement centered around the idea that it would hurt the U.S. economy, but climate change could cost the U.S. more than 10 percent of its GDP by 2100 in the worst-case-scenario, CNN reported. Climate change will devastate agriculture and fisheries. Some Midwest farmers will grow less than 75 percent of the corn they produce today, and the shellfish industry could see a $230 million loss by 2100 because of ocean acidification. On the flip slide, rapidly reducing fossil fuel use could actually raise the country billions of dollars in benefits.
The latest #NationalClimateAssessment tells us that the cost of doing nothing today to solve #ClimateChange will co… https://t.co/OFKX1QNlWv— Randy (@Randy)1543119078.0
3. Environmental Injustice
As usual, the report found that low-income and marginalized communities would suffer the worst health and economic impacts from climate change, The Guardian reported. This includes indigenous communities, as the report explained in its summary of key findings:
Many Indigenous peoples are reliant on natural resources for their economic, cultural, and physical well-being and are often uniquely affected by climate change. The impacts of climate change on water, land, coastal areas, and other natural resources, as well as infrastructure and related services, are expected to increasingly disrupt Indigenous peoples' livelihoods and economies, including agriculture and agroforestry, fishing, recreation, and tourism. Adverse impacts on subsistence activities have already been observed. As climate changes continue, adverse impacts on culturally significant species and resources are expected to result in negative physical and mental health effects.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.