A Canadian scientist who helped author an exhaustive U.S. draft report on climate change says the study makes it clear dramatic action is needed to stop global temperatures from rising, but that her team has no idea how the Trump administration will react to it.
The report, written by scientists from 13 federal agencies, concludes that the United States is already feeling the effects of climate change, with a stark increase in the frequency of heat waves, heavy rains and other extreme weather over the last four decades.
The report is now awaiting approval from U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.
“The reality is we need that policy mechanism to point us in the right direction as well, because otherwise we, as humans, are just resistant to change,” said Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Texas Tech University Climate Science Center, in an interview with CBC Radio’s The House.
“We’re like, ‘Why can’t we do it the way we’ve always done it?” Well, we can’t because we’ve found out there are side-effects,” she said.
The report, part of the National Climate Assessment, concludes that the long-term evidence that global warming is being driven by human activities is “unambiguous.”
That runs counter to Trump’s views.
The president has called climate change a “total con job” and “hoax” perpetrated to harm U.S. economic competitiveness, while his Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has cast doubt on whether human behaviour has contributed to the planet’s warming.
“Because this document is based on the solid, peer-reviewed science of climate change, it does flatly contradict many of the statements people in the U.S. administration have made over the past year,” Hayhoe said.
The U.S. administration has until Aug. 18 to review the final stage of the report.
The EPA is one of 13 agencies that now have three options: approve the legally mandated report, reject it or conditionally approve it with revisions.
“We don’t have any indication of which one of those three options is going to happen,” she said.
Hayhoe said the language used in the almost 700-page report — for example, “extremely likely” — is as close as scientists will get to saying human-driven climate change is…