Epic Fail: Trump Tries To Bury National Climate Assessment Report

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Governments typically try to bury bad news in the Friday news cycle when people are distracted with plans for the weekend. The best day all year to bury a story is Black Friday — the busiest, craziest shopping day of all. The latest National Climate Assessment report from the federal government was due to be released before the end of 2018, but it is filled with such shockingly bad news for Trump and his failed environmental policies that his maladministration decided to release it a month early on the afternoon of Black Friday.

National Climate Assessment

If the hope was the bombshell report would get overlooked in the post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy, things didn’t turn out well for the Psychopath of Pennsylvania Avenue. The National Climate Assessment (NCA) is the lead story on practically every news site in the world today. We will get to the contents of the report in a moment, but first, it is vital to focus on the message that comes from trying to hide the report in the first place.

It says this government, which theoretically is supposed to protect the citizens of the country from harm, will not lift a finger to meet the environmental challenges speeding its way. Instead of heeding the dire warnings from the recent IPCC 6 climate assessment, instead of helping states and local communities prepare for rising sea levels, more powerful storms, uncontrolled wildfires, and worsening droughts, the government plans to hunker down and pursue a business-as-usual strategy that will make America vulnerable to untold human misery and incalculable economic losses.

At a time when we should all be working together to confront the biggest challenge to humanity in history, the Trump government is promoting deep divisions between ethnic groups and demonizing the 7.7 billion people who don’t live in the United States under the guise of patriotism. Charles de Gaulle once observed “Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first. Nationalism is when hate for people other than your own comes first.”

The America of Donald Trump and his acolytes is founded on hate — a deep, abiding loathing for anyone and everyone who isn’t a member of the white American club. How any nation with such a focus on negativity could aspire to greatness is an abiding mystery.

What’s In The Report?

With input from scientists at 13 federal government agencies, the NCA attempts to pull together in one place all the climate science currently available in order to inform policymakers about about the actions that will be needed to address the challenges of a warming planet. Here are the major headlines in the report:

  • Communities — Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth.
  • Economy — Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.
  • Interconnected Impacts — Climate change affects the natural, built, and social systems we rely on individually and through their connections to one another. These interconnected systems are increasingly vulnerable to cascading impacts that are often difficult to predict, threatening essential services within and beyond the Nation’s borders.
  • Actions To Reduce Risks — Communities, governments, and businesses are working to reduce risks from and costs associated with climate change by taking action to lower greenhouse gas emissions and implement adaptation strategies. While mitigation and adaptation efforts have expanded substantially in the last four years, they do not yet approach the scale considered necessary to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades.
  • Water — The quality and quantity of water available for use by people and ecosystems across the country are being affected by climate change, increasing risks and costs to agriculture, energy production, industry, recreation, and the environment.
  • Health — Impacts from climate change on extreme weather and climate-related events, air quality, and the transmission of disease through insects and pests, food, and water increasingly threaten the health and well-being of the American people, particularly populations that are already vulnerable.
  • Indigenous Peoples — Climate change increasingly threatens Indigenous communities’ livelihoods, economies, health, and cultural identities by disrupting interconnected social, physical, and ecological systems.
  • Ecosystems — Ecosystems and the benefits they provide to society are being altered by climate change, and these impacts are projected to continue. Without substantial and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, transformative impacts on some ecosystems will occur; some coral reef and sea ice ecosystems are already experiencing such transformational changes.
  • Agriculture — Rising temperatures, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on rangelands, and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the United States. Expected increases in challenges to livestock health, declines in crop yields and quality, and changes in extreme events in the United States and abroad threaten rural livelihoods, sustainable food security, and price stability.
  • Infrastructure — Our Nation’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure is further stressed by increases in heavy precipitation events, coastal flooding, heat, wildfires, and other extreme events, as well as changes to average precipitation and temperature. Without adaptation, climate change will continue to degrade infrastructure performance over the rest of the century, with the potential for cascading impacts that threaten our economy, national security, essential services, and health and well-being.
  • Oceans & Coasts — Coastal communities and the ecosystems that support them are increasingly threatened by the impacts of climate change. Without significant reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions and regional adaptation measures, many coastal regions will be transformed by the latter part of this century, with impacts affecting other regions and sectors. Even in a future with lower greenhouse gas emissions, many communities are expected to suffer financial impacts as chronic high-tide flooding leads to higher costs and lower property values.
  • Tourism & Recreation — Outdoor recreation, tourist economies, and quality of life are reliant on benefits provided by our natural environment that will be degraded by the impacts of climate change in many ways.

Climate Change Will Cost Americans Billions

The summary to the NCA states the “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 impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future.”

Much of the latest NCA report concerns itself with the harm a warming planet will do to the US economy. It says it could reduce US economic output by as much as 10%, which would amount to around $500 billion a year in losses according to the New York Times. “Going forward, American exports and supply chains could be disrupted, agricultural yields could fall to 1980s levels by midcentury and fire season could spread to the Southeast, a Times report about the NCA claims.

“This report shows how climate change will affect every single one of our communities. The president says outrageous things like climate change is a hoax engineered by the Chinese and raking forests will prevent catastrophic wild fires, but serious consequences like collapsing coastal housing prices and trillions of dollars in stranded fossil fuel assets await us if we don’t act, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse tells Bloomberg.

The report echoes the findings of the IPCC 6 climate assessment released in October, which warns a “business as usual” approach to carbon emission could see the average global temperatures rocket upward by as much as 9 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century. If so, that would lead to a “totally different world,” Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University, tells The Guardian. “It would be indescribable, it would turn the world upside down in terms of its climate. There would be nothing like it in the history of civilization.”

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The Empire Strikes Back

For reasons that are unclear to me, the Heartland Institute, a Koch brothers front group staffed by pseudo-intellectuals who conduct studies in which the results come first and the research follows later, saw fit to email me their response to the NCA. In the interest of presenting readers with a a glimpse of what the lunatics on the right have to say about the report, below are a few choice remarks from Heartland Institute muckety mucks.

Tim Huelskamp, CEO of Heartland, has this to say. “This latest climate report is just more of the same — except for even greater exaggeration, worse science, and added interference in the political process by unelected, self-serving bureaucrats.

“With a new volume out in December, The Heartland Institute has published 4,000 pages of the Climate Change Reconsidered series by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). Those reports cite many hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific papers that show how every conclusion of this latest government report are false.

“This report from the climate alarmist Deep State in our government is even more hysterical than some United Nations reports. The idea that global temperatures could rise as much as 12 degrees in the next 80 years is absurd and not a shred of actual data and observation supports that. And as noted in Climate Change Reconsidered, sea levels have not been rising at an accelerated rate, and global temperatures have stayed largely the same for much of the last 20 years.

“President Trump was required by law to release this report, but he is not required to take it seriously – and he surely will not. To do so would undermine his sensible, deregulatory agenda and restart the war on fossil fuels.”

(Note: NIPCC is a clever ruse meant to confuse people about this subject. It has no relationship whatsoever to IPCC. The attempt to sow misunderstanding is deliberate and deceitful.)

A Word On Nomenclature

The staff here at CleanTechnica has been having an active discussion about how to refer to climate alteration in our articles. It is pretty much understood that the words “climate change” are too often glanced over and don’t properly represent the societal threat we are facing. In order to get our message across to a wider audience, however, some of whom may legitimately have questions about the validity of things like IPCC 6 and the latest NCA, it is necessary to engage people in a way that draws them in rather than pushes them away.

We have come to no agreement and invite you to share your thoughts on the subject with us. Clearly, how a debate is framed is vital and “climate change” may have lost its impact. Personally, I prefer the phrase “a warming planet” as I believe it states the premise correctly without the emotional gloss applied to “climate change” and “global warming.” If you have other suggestions, please share them with us.

Driving America Over A Cliff

There is no reason to believe the putative president will do anything as a result of the latest National Climate Assessment other than suck up to his base, work to enrich plutocrats like Robert Murray, and continue his drive to make the air we breath, the water we drink, and the land we walk on more dangerous to human health. Instead of making America great again, he is making it a pariah among nations.

The danger is that little to nothing will be done about a warming planet while vicious attacks by the Heartland Institute and other Koch brothers–supported pressure groups continue. It is imperative that people of good conscience continue to take appropriate steps to lower their own personal carbon footprint while supporting political candidates who pledge to protect the Earth from anthropomorphic destruction. Refusing to vote for candidates who take money from fossil fuel interests is a good way to populate the government with more people who are committed to making America a good steward of the Earth that sustains us.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

Steve Hanley has 5547 posts and counting. See all posts by Steve Hanley