A Federal Climate Change Report Leaks Before Trump Can Deny Its Harrowing Findings

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On Monday, the New York Times reported that it had received a leaked copy of a draft federal climate change report that contained some pretty damning information linking human behavior to climate change. The leaked climate change report appears to contradict Trump and his administration's stance on the issue, something which reportedly caused concern among scientists that the administration could suppress its findings.

The document obtained by the Times consists of a draft report on climate change that constitutes a "special science section" of the National Climate Assessment, an assessment mandated by Congress every four years. The report was contributed by scientists from 13 federal agencies and based on thousands of studies on climate change and has not yet been made public. While the Times noted that the National Academy of Sciences has already approved the report, releasing it to the public requires approval of the Trump administration, which has thus far not commented on the matter.

The extensive report reveals evidence documenting significant increases in global temperatures as well as confirming human contributions to these temperature increases via the emission of greenhouse gases. For example, as Vice noted, the report indicated that scientists were very confident that the global annual average temperature had risen by more than 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit between 1880 and 2015. The outlet also stated that the report found that substantial evidence exists that human behavior constitutes the primary driver for this change in climate activity.

These findings stand in direct conflict with what President Trump has said about climate change. As the Times noted, Trump and many in his administration have framed climate change and human contributions to global temperature increases as something that is an uncertainty. Indeed, in the past, during his pre-presidency years, Trump repeatedly referred to global warming as a "hoax" and even suggested that it was something fabricated by the Chinese in order to quell competition from U.S. manufacturers. Furthermore, in an interview during the presidential primary, Trump indicated that he does not believe in "man-made global warming."

Trump's energy secretary, Rick Perry, has also stated that he does not believe that mad-made carbon emissions are the primary drivers of climate change, something which stands in direct contrast with the findings of this draft report. Thus, according to the Times, some scientists are concerned about the fact that Trump's administration must sign off on this report in order to make it public. Indeed, a scientist interviewed by the Times anonymously noted that he and others were worried that the report "would be suppressed."

Many Americans are likely waiting to see how the administration will respond to the draft report — and whether or not it will sign off on its public release — now that its contents have been made public via the Times. The Trump administration's reaction to this document could certainly be indicative of how it will continue to approach climate change for the remainder of the president's term.