The Trump administration released a sweeping federal climate report concluding that the Earth is warming at an alarming rate due to human activity.
The Earth is undergoing its warmest period “in the history of modern civilisation”, fueled primarily by rising levels of carbon dioxide, according to the study released on Friday. The congressionally mandated report, released by the US Global Change Research Programme, was initiated under former president Barack Obama in 2015.
The conclusions about melting glaciers, diminishing snow cover, ocean acidification and other results of a warming planet are hardly new. But the central premise, that humans are to blame, contradicts previous statements made by president Donald Trump and many high-ranking members of his administration, who have questioned the scientific findings regarding climate change.
The White House declined to say whether Mr Trump agreed with the report’s conclusions. A spokesman said the administration supports rigorous scientific analysis and debate.
“In the United States, energy related carbon dioxide emissions have been declining, are expected to remain flat through 2040, and will also continue to decline as a share of world emissions,” principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah said.
Scientists had expressed concern that the White House would either alter the report’s findings or block its release. On Wednesday, nine Democratic senators sent a letter to commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, calling on the administration to refrain from political interference. In the end, however, the report was issued as the scientists wrote it.
“I am quite confident to say that there has been no political interference in the scientific messages in this report,” David Fahey, a research physicist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and coordinating lead author of the study, said on Friday.
It would not have been easy for the Trump administration to suppress or doctor the report, said Rachel Licker, a senior climate scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists. The study is mandated by Congress under a 1990 law signed by president George HW Bush. It also underwent a rigorous review process including public comments and multiple federal agencies.
The report comes as the Trump administration has aggressively promoted fossil fuels and moved to dismantle federal programs to fight climate change. And the study does not necessarily signify that will change, Ms Licker said.
“This is a report that does not prescribe any policy action,” she said. “It does not tell America what to do. That’s up to policy makers in the administration.”