'I Don’t Believe It’: Trump Rejects U.S. Government Climate Report
President Donald Trump has dismissed a report released by his own government Friday that warned climate change could kill thousands of Americans each year and slash the GDP by more than 10 percent by 2100.
"I don't believe it," Trump replied when asked by reporters outside the White House Monday about the "devastating" economic impacts predicted by the report.
Trump: 'I don't believe' gov't climate report youtu.be
The report, Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, is the work of 13 federal agencies and 300 leading scientists. It states unequivocally that climate change is happening, is human-caused and will get worse if we don't take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"Climate-related risks will continue to grow without additional action," the report authors wrote. "Decisions made today determine risk exposure for current and future generations and will either broaden or limit options to reduce the negative consequences of climate change."
But Trump did not appear to take it as motivation for new policy in his statement to reporters. He instead focused on what he thought other countries should do.
"You're going to have to have China, and Japan, and all of Asia and all of these other countries ... You know, it addresses our country," he said. "Right now we're at the cleanest we've ever been, and it's very important to me. But if we're clean, but every other place on earth is dirty, that's not so good. So I want clean air, I want clean water, very important."
In his remarks, Trump seemed to confuse climate warming greenhouse gas emissions with air and water pollution, but the two are related, in that climate change is already making America's air worse.
Air quality in San Francisco, Los Angeles and other California cities hovered between "unhealthy" and "very unhealthy" for more than a week this month because of smoke from deadly wildfires that California Governor Jerry Brown linked to climate change. The report predicts that air quality will only get worse if we fail to cut back on fossil fuels and the area burned by fires each year increases.
The report found that clean water is also at risk from global warming, The Daily Beast reported. Coastal flooding from sea level rise, strange pollination patterns and the displacement of communities will all increase water pollution.
Trump's remarks are in keeping with earlier statements. A month ago, he dismissed the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that urged unprecedented action for keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by casting doubt on the motivations of the scientists involved. "Who drew it?" he asked.
In a segment Monday, Anderson Cooper pointed to a pattern for discussing climate change that Trump has followed since 2014: "Namely, deny it exists, and just talk vaguely about clean air and water."
Anderson Cooper to Trump: Weather and climate are different youtu.be
Trump's aggressive climate denialism makes it hard for other Republicans to address the issue, USA Today reported. Few Republican lawmakers acknowledged Friday's report, and those that did either dismissed it or called only for vague solutions like "innovation" that would not disrupt the economy.
"All the proposals I've seen so far that would address any of these issues would devastate the U.S. economy and have little or no benefit that is demonstrable from our standpoint," Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee told NBC's "Meet The Press," as USA Today reported.
Bob Inglis, a former South Carolina Republican Congressmen whose nonprofit republicEn tries to shift the conservative stance on climate action, said Trump's stance put a damper on the party's action now, but could actually help it shift once a new president is elected.
"In a strange sort of way he may help us, because when he leaves office he's going to take climate disputation with him ... It's going to be so closely identified with him," Inglis told WNYC radio Monday, as USA Today reported. Once White House leadership changes, that might "let the adults in the room and the Americans who believe in solutions get with it."
#Obama Calls Out #Trump's Attitude on #Environment https://t.co/c5bMOWYYue @ClimateCentral @Greenpeace— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1538182809.0
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The speed and scale of the response to COVID-19 by governments, businesses and individuals seems to provide hope that we can react to the climate change crisis in a similarly decisive manner - but history tells us that humans do not react to slow-moving and distant threats.
A Game of Jenga<p>Think of it as a game of Jenga and the planet's climate system as the tower. For generations, we have been slowly removing blocks. But at some point, we will remove a pivotal block, such as the collapse of one of the major global ocean circulation systems, for example the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), that will cause all or part of the global climate system to fall into a planetary emergency.</p><p>But worse still, it could cause runaway damage: Where the tipping points form a domino-like cascade, where breaching one triggers breaches of others, creating an unstoppable shift to a radically and swiftly changing climate.</p><p>One of the most concerning tipping points is mass methane release. Methane can be found in deep freeze storage within permafrost and at the bottom of the deepest oceans in the form of methane hydrates. But rising sea and air temperatures are beginning to thaw these stores of methane.</p><p>This would release a powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, 30-times more potent than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent. This would drastically increase temperatures and rush us towards the breach of other tipping points.</p><p>This could include the acceleration of ice thaw on all three of the globe's large, land-based ice sheets – Greenland, West Antarctica and the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica. The potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is seen as a key tipping point, as its loss could eventually <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/324/5929/901" target="_blank">raise global sea levels by 3.3 meters</a> with important regional variations.</p><p>More than that, we would be on the irreversible path to full land-ice melt, causing sea levels to rise by up to 30 meters, roughly at the rate of two meters per century, or maybe faster. Just look at the raised beaches around the world, at the last high stand of global sea level, at the end of the Pleistocene period around 120,0000 years ago, to see the evidence of such a warm world, which was just 2°C warmer than the present day.</p>
Cutting Off Circulation<p>As well as devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world, melting polar ice could set off another tipping point: a disablement to the AMOC.</p><p>This circulation system drives a northward flow of warm, salty water on the upper layers of the ocean from the tropics to the northeast Atlantic region, and a southward flow of cold water deep in the ocean.</p><p>The ocean conveyor belt has a major effect on the climate, seasonal cycles and temperature in western and northern Europe. It means the region is warmer than other areas of similar latitude.</p><p>But melting ice from the Greenland ice sheet could threaten the AMOC system. It would dilute the salty sea water in the north Atlantic, making the water lighter and less able or unable to sink. This would slow the engine that drives this ocean circulation.</p><p><a href="https://www.carbonbrief.org/atlantic-conveyor-belt-has-slowed-15-per-cent-since-mid-twentieth-century" target="_blank">Recent research</a> suggests the AMOC has already weakened by around 15% since the middle of the 20th century. If this continues, it could have a major impact on the climate of the northern hemisphere, but particularly Europe. It may even lead to the <a href="https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/handle/10871/39731?show=full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cessation of arable farming</a> in the UK, for instance.</p><p>It may also reduce rainfall over the Amazon basin, impact the monsoon systems in Asia and, by bringing warm waters into the Southern Ocean, further destabilize ice in Antarctica and accelerate global sea level rise.</p>
The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation has a major effect on the climate. Praetorius (2018)
Is it Time to Declare a Climate Emergency?<p>At what stage, and at what rise in global temperatures, will these tipping points be reached? No one is entirely sure. It may take centuries, millennia or it could be imminent.</p><p>But as COVID-19 taught us, we need to prepare for the expected. We were aware of the risk of a pandemic. We also knew that we were not sufficiently prepared. But we didn't act in a meaningful manner. Thankfully, we have been able to fast-track the production of vaccines to combat COVID-19. But there is no vaccine for climate change once we have passed these tipping points.</p><p><a href="https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2021" target="_blank">We need to act now on our climate</a>. Act like these tipping points are imminent. And stop thinking of climate change as a slow-moving, long-term threat that enables us to kick the problem down the road and let future generations deal with it. We must take immediate action to reduce global warming and fulfill our commitments to the <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Paris Agreement</a>, and build resilience with these tipping points in mind.</p><p>We need to plan now to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, but we also need to plan for the impacts, such as the ability to feed everyone on the planet, develop plans to manage flood risk, as well as manage the social and geopolitical impacts of human migrations that will be a consequence of fight or flight decisions.</p><p>Breaching these tipping points would be cataclysmic and potentially far more devastating than COVID-19. Some may not enjoy hearing these messages, or consider them to be in the realm of science fiction. But if it injects a sense of urgency to make us respond to climate change like we have done to the pandemic, then we must talk more about what has happened before and will happen again.</p><p>Otherwise we will continue playing Jenga with our planet. And ultimately, there will only be one loser – us.</p>
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