Federal Report Confirms Human-Induced Climate Change

by Daniel Brown

A draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies concludes, unequivocally, that Americans are already feeling the effects of climate change and that human activity is the cause.

The Climate Science Special Report, currently in final draft form, will guide the Fourth National Climate Assessment. The National Climate Assessment is a comprehensive report required by law every four years that describes where the nation stands in regard to climate change. This drafts of the Climate Science Special Report was previously made available for public review and was re-released  to the New York Times and other news outlets earlier this month amidst fears by scientists that the Trump Administration would change or suppress the report.

Following those concerns, the Trump administration announced it was disbanding a federal advisory committee on climate change. That advisory committee would have made recommendations to government agencies based on the scientific findings of the National Climate Assessment.

The report confirms the widely-known fact that human activity has been responsible for climate change.

It’s unlikely the dismantling of the advisory team will hinder the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, but it will make it harder for federal agencies to take actions based on the assessment. It could also make it more challenging for federal agencies to coordinate their efforts.

Along with recent rollbacks to Obama-era infrastructure guidelines that help communities cope with the risks of climate change, these steps by the Trump administration fit a pattern of ignoring climate scientists’ research and recommendations.

The administration could create even more obstacles to climate action in the near future. State and local governments, universities, and nonprofits will need to increase their efforts to follow the sound guidance of federal climate scientists and improve awareness of climate change in their communities.

Daniel Brown is Mass Audubon’s Climate Change Program Coordinator