Climate change is no longer a distant problem in the day-to-day lives of ordinary Americans, according to a sweeping, yet-to-be-released report by 13 government agencies.
Since 1980, average temperatures have risen drastically in the United States — between .29 and .46 degrees Fahrenheit per decade — causing extreme weather events such as heat waves, powerful storms, and droughts to happen with greater frequency.
In Texas, for example, climate change has made extreme weather events 20 times more likely.
For Americans in Alaska, Miami, and other coastal areas, climate change has been felt for years now.
“Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” a draft of the report, first reported by The New York Times.
“Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change,” the report continues.
The report is waiting final approval by the Trump administration, but advance copies have been reviewed by some news organizations. Authors of the report, who essentially comprise an all-star team of climate scientists, have also anonymously given interviews on the report’s findings. The National Academy of the Sciences has signed off on the report, and the Trump administration must make a decision by Aug. 18.
One of the central findings of the assessment is that even if human emissions were to cease today, the world would still experience a .5 degree Fahrenheit (.3 degree Celsius) increase in temperatures from today’s levels before the end of the century.
Current projections, meanwhile, suggest that the world will experience at least an additional 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) increase from today.
Such an increase would cause the world to blow past the ceiling set by the Paris climate agreement, a 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) from pre-industrial levels, beyond which catastrophic changes are expected.
Parts of the US will see temperature increases of up to 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit from pre-industrial levels (4.8 degrees Celsius).
Among other events, this would cause sea levels to significantly rise, displacing millions of people, coral reefs to disintegrate, unprecedented heat waves and droughts, and tropical storms to become more common.
The authors of the report argue that the ability to link weather events to climate change has improved significantly since the last climate assessment was made by the government in 2014.
They also suggest that such clarity should prompt global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Some of the report’s authors worry that the review could be suppressed by the Trump administration, which has shown consistent skepticism of climate science.
For example, the Environmental Protection Agency has to approve of the report, and it’s currently directed by an outspoken climate change skeptic, Scott Pruitt.
Either way, the report is now fully available for the public to read online and the scientists who participated in the report will continue to study the subject and advocate for action.