Trump's Rejection of National Climate Report Would Do More Harm Than Paris Exit
A scientific report done every four years has been thrust into the spotlight because its findings directly contradict statements from the president and various cabinet officials.
If the Trump administration chooses to reject the pending national Climate Science Special Report, it would be more damaging than pulling the U.S. out of the Paris agreement. Full stop. This is a bold claim, but as an economist and scientist who was a vice chair of the committee that shepherded the last national climate assessment report to its completion, I can explain why this is the case.
Informing policy with facts
To see why the Climate Science Special Report is so important, first consider some historical context.
Leaked Government Report Sounds Alarm on Climate Change Before Trump Could Suppress It https://t.co/Jm0z0UcdZ2 @Reportingclimat @ukycc— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1502316615.0
In 1990, Congress mandated that government scientists prepare and transmit a report to the president and the Congress every four years that "integrates, evaluates, and interprets" findings of the U.S. Global Change Research Program. It must characterize the "effects of global change on the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, human social systems and biological diversity." It also calls for scientists to project climate trends decades into the future.
The upcoming Climate Science Special Report, upon which the administration must bestow either its approval or its rejection sometime in the near future, is the first major component of the Fourth National Climate Assessment. Combined with a second section that will analyze climate change's impacts on different regions and sectors of the economy, it must, by law, be submitted in some form to Congress and the public by the end of 2017. The previous assessment was released to the public by President Obama in a Rose Garden ceremony on May 6, 2014.
So, what does the latest Climate Science Special Report say? On the basis of new and stronger science, it extends, confirms and elaborates conclusions on climate risks reported in the third National Climate Assessment nearly four years ago. The forthcoming National Climate Assessment is now more secure in its core findings and includes two new important developments: advances in what is called attribution science and the importance of using this new information to implement effective adaptation.
The draft report shows that scientists can more accurately describe the degree to which we can attribute growing climate change risks to human activity. The net effect is that scientists can more confidently attribute the role global warming has played in events such as floods or heat waves.
The report also reconfirms that it is not too late for Americans to respond to growing climate change risks. This was a major conclusion of the NCA3, but it is worthy of repeating. Put quite simply, it assures Americans that we can work individually and together to reduce our carbon footprint and to adapt to the dangers of climate change, both observed and projected.
State and city action on Paris
So why would rejecting the forthcoming CSSR be more damaging to public health and welfare across the country than withdrawing from the Paris agreement? The reason lies in the crucial difference between the two: the Paris agreement focuses on reducing emissions, while the Climate Science Special Report is designed to help the U.S. better adapt to the effects of climate change even as it underscores the importance of cutting emissions.
We, like many other nations, were "leading from behind" when we helped 196 nations achieve and accept the Paris agreement in 2015. China was already reducing its carbon emissions significantly as a co-benefit to reducing conventional air pollution. States like California and the entire New England region had already implemented cap and trade programs to do the same.
Meanwhile, cities like New York and Los Angeles were similarly committing their own scarce resources to reduce emissions and adopt adaptation plans. Corporations across the country are changing their business plans to reduce their emissions and to protect their bottom-line resilience.
The message of all this decentralized action is clear: The emissions reduction train had, by Nov. 4, 2016 when the Paris agreement came into force, already left the station. Leaving the Paris agreement was a bad idea, but it was not going to call the train back.
By contrast, the NCA4 includes vital information that will help policymakers and society at large to adapt more securely to the effects of a dynamic climate. The previous national climate assessment report did exactly that, providing not only data on how climate change is affecting the U.S. now, broken down by region and industry, but also stronger foundations for designing effective adaptive strategies.
A New York Times article recently noted that some scientists involved in the climate report are concerned about what the administration will do.
A decision to reject the report would, of course, diminish the credibility of hundreds of government scientists who have worked the climate problem for decades. The CSSR is the product of exactly the "peer-reviewed and objectively reviewed methodology and evaluation" that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has called for.
Trump has already refused to accept high-confidence conclusions from 17 intelligence agencies across the federal government, which makes it makes it more difficult to make progress in protecting our next national election from cyberattacks. Similarly, rejecting the high-confidence findings from the 13 federal agencies whose scientists contributed to the Climate Science Special Report would make it much more difficult for Americans to protect themselves from existing and projected climate risks in a number of ways.
- It would make it easier for Congress to dismiss any proposed legislation that takes climate change risk into account.
- It would make it easier to continue to deny any consideration of climate risk in any of the departments and agencies where the very mention of climate change is now forbidden. It would, for instance, make it easier for states like North Carolina to "outlaw" any mention of sea level rise in any public discourse despite catastrophic flooding along the Outer Banks and in-land lowlands.
- It would make it easier for shareholders of major corporations to demand that their CEOs save money in the short run by ignoring material climate risk to the longer-view bottom line.
Putting people in harm's way
As such, President Trump's rejection of the 2018 Climate Science Special Report would unnecessarily place American citizens in harm's way in every corner of the country. Studies have shown that hundreds of people and billions of dollars would be lost over the coming years if emissions continue unabated.
I know that his supporters and climate skeptics would call that statement hyperbole, but I believe that it is not. People will die if the president rejects the upcoming Climate Science Special Report because they will not be protected. Nobody can identify exactly who and when, but it is possible to describe many of them with incredible precision.
The dead will be drawn randomly across all 50 states from populations of poor, elderly and/or very young Americans who live close to rivers, streams, oceans or lakes in regions that are already prone to extreme weather events, intense summer heat and newly observed vector-borne diseases. By dismissing the best available climate science, the administration will slow or reverse the country's efforts to adapt to the dangerous effects of climate change, such as these.
Rejection of this report would thereby be an abdication of the president's constitutional responsibility to "provide for the public's defense" and "promote the general welfare" of every American.
Reposted with permission from our media associate The Conversation.
In a dramatic rescue captured on camera, a Florida man ran into a pond and pried open an alligator's mouth in order to rescue his beloved puppy, all without dropping his cigar.
- 'He had green eyes': Florida man will paint alligator that attacked him ›
- Florida alligator attack: A woman was attacked by a 10-foot alligator ... ›
- Weird presidential pets include alligator, tiger cub, dog named Satan ... ›
- Alligators make terrible pets: 'You're basically dealing with a dinosaur.' ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
- Coronavirus Plastic Waste Polluting the Environment - EcoWatch ›
- Scuba Divers Make Face Masks out of Recycled Ocean Plastic ... ›
By Bret Wilkins
In a year in which the United States has already suffered 16 climate-driven extreme weather events causing more than $1 billion in economic damages, and as millions of American workers face loss of essential unemployment benefits due to congressional inaction, a report published Monday reveals the Trump administration has given fossil fuel companies as much as $15.2 billion in direct relief — and tens of billions more indirectly — through federal COVID-19 recovery programs since March.
- 'We Need People's Bailout, Not Polluters' Bailout': Climate Groups ... ›
- Corporate Polluters Have Received Tens of Millions in PPP Loans ... ›
- Trump Bails Out Oil Industry, Not U.S. Families, as Coronavirus ... ›
- Former Federal Reserve Governor Rebukes Fed for Fossil Fuel Bail ... ›
By Ashia Aubourg
As Thanksgiving approaches, some Indigenous organizations and activists caution against perpetuating further injustices towards Native communities. Indigenous activist Mariah Gladstone, for example, encourages eaters to celebrate the harvest time in ways that do not involve stereotypes and pilgrim stories.
- Why Face Masks Belong at Your Thanksgiving Gathering + 7 Things ... ›
- Reasons to Be Thankful — 8 Food and Farm 'Good News' Stories ... ›
- Why I'm Going to Standing Rock for Thanksgiving - EcoWatch ›
By Alex Middleton
Losing weight and reducing fat is a hard battle to fight. Thankfully, there are fat burner supplements that help you gain your target body and goal. However, how would you know which supplement is right for you?