The rapid pace of global climate change is almost certainly driven by human activity, like burning fossil fuels, according to a US government report that contradicts assertions by President Donald Trump and members of his administration.
“For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence,” said the report by a group of more than 50 US government scientists released on Friday.
The report, which is required by Congress every four years, was written by scientists from government bodies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
It reinforces the conclusions drawn by an overwhelming majority of scientists around the world in recent years that emissions from burning fossil fuels are the primary driver of global warming, leading to sea level rise, flooding, droughts, and more frequent powerful storms, reports Reuters.
Trump has repeatedly called climate change a hoax, and in June announced that he would withdraw the United States from a global pact to combat it – calling the deal’s demands for emissions cuts too costly for the US economy.
War-torn Syria is the only other country outside the pact.
During his speech announcing the withdrawal, Trump said: “Even if the Paris Agreement were implemented in full, with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100.
“Tiny, tiny amount,” he added, emphasising his point with a hand gesture (above).
Trump completely missed the point that efforts to combat climate change are aimed at limiting temperatures and without action a “catastrophic” rise in temperature of five degrees could occur, meaning a “two-tenths of one degree Celsius reduction” is actually an incredible achievement.
His speech was rubbished at the time by the very people whose information he totally misunderstood.
The US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Deal was part of a broader White House effort to roll back what it sees as unneeded environmental protections to boost domestic oil and gas drilling and coal mining.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has also expressed doubts about the causes of climate change, at one point saying he did not believe carbon dioxide from human activity was the primary driver, and calling for further debate on the issue.
In an emailed statement, White House spokesman Raj Shah said: “The Administration supports rigorous scientific analysis and debate and encourages public comment on the draft documents being released today.”
Officials at the EPA declined to comment.
According to the report, global temperatures have increased by about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) over the last 115 years, while global average sea levels have risen about 7 inches (17.78 cm) over the same period.
Sea levels are expected to rise “at least several inches in the next 15 years” due to rising temperatures, it added.