A leaked draft of a major federal government climate change report has concluded that the U.S. will face dire consequences if carbon emissions are not dramatically reduced. The scientists responsible for the draft are reportedly worried President Donald Trump will disregard their data and that his administration will bury their conclusions.
On Aug. 7, The New York Times obtained a draft report from the National Climate Assessment. The report was compiled by scientists from 13 different federal agencies and concluded that Americans were already threatened by the impact of climate change.
"Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans," the draft stated.
The report also concluded that humanity was spurring climate change with carbon emissions.
"Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change," the draft said.
The report cited thousands of studies to conclude that the U.S. and the global community were already experiencing the impact of climate change, including from heat waves, extreme weather storms, flooding and melting ice in Alaska and the Arctic.
"It is very likely that the accelerated rate of Arctic warming will have a significant consequence for the United States due to accelerating land and sea ice that is driving changes in the ocean including sea level rise threatening our coastal communities," the report concluded.
The draft did not offer policy prescriptions but urged the U.S. government to reduce carbon emissions. The report warned that if carbon emissions were not curbed, the global temperature would rise more than 2 degrees Celsius and cause irreversible damage on an unprecedented scale.
An anonymous government scientist who contributed to the federal report said he and his colleagues were worried the Trump administration would bury the data and reprimand employees who shared it.
Trump has previously dismissed the scientific consensus that humans are accelerating climate change. In November 2012, the future president took to social media to blast climate change as a hoax.
"The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive," Trump tweeted.
On March 9, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt asserted that carbon emissions were not a primary contributor to climate change.
"I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see," Pruitt told CNBC.
The EPA and 12 other agencies have until Aug. 18 to approve of the climate report for public release. The climate report directly contradicts the policy stances of both Trump and Pruitt.
Climate Policy Director Liz Perera of the Sierra Club asserted that the climate report was leaked because government scientists feared the Trump administration would suppress their conclusions.
"We are seeing this report now because scientists ... do not trust the Trump administration with the truth," Perera told The Hill.
On Aug. 8, former Vice President Al Gore responded to the leaked report during a publicity tour in Berlin.
"I would like to formally call on the Trump administration to stop suppressing this report, to stop trying to censor scientific information and make this report public so that the latest scientific information compiled from tens of thousands of scientists with the up-to-date evidence of the incredibly harsh impacts of the climate crisis on the United States will be made public," Gore said.