Last March I was writing about the latest draft of the Climate Science Special Report. This is an Obama legacy that is formally issued by congress every four years. At that point in time it had been formally approved by the scientific community and needed to go through the next phase of political approval by various agencies.
In no uncertain terms, the report itself strongly underlines the reality of climate change and fingers humans as the cause (more on that in a moment).
Concerns regarding it political approval
Roll on to June and there were at that time very serious concerns that it would be suppressed. I also blogged about that concern, and speculated that it would play out like this …
If I was to speculate what will actually happen, then my best guess here is that all of the agencies will sign and life will go on. Even Scott Pruitt will most probably sign it off. The alternative would be utterly insane and would throw a very public spotlight upon the administration as one that is definitively anti-science, hence I lean towards thinking that they would not be stupid enough to suppress it or interfere with it.
Well, I guess my speculation was right, it has now been formally issued and so that is exactly how it plays out. The report has been formally issued and will simply be ignored by the prevailing administration.
The timing is of course no accident. The next UN Climate Change conference Starts today (6th Nov in Germany), and so this is formal scientific input for that meeting from the US scientific community.
Where Can I find the full report itself?
There you will find it all in a very accessible layout …
What is the Key Message that it contains?
There is quite frankly a vast amount of tightly packed information within this report that is very robustly evidence based. To give you a quick feel for it, here are the six key findings (from chapter 1)
Key Finding 1
The global climate continues to change rapidly compared to the pace of the natural variations in climate that have occurred throughout Earth’s history. Trends in globally averaged temperature, sea level rise, upper-ocean heat content, land-based ice melt, arctic sea ice, depth of seasonal permafrost thaw, and other climate variables provide consistent evidence of a warming planet. These observed trends are robust and have been confirmed by multiple independent research groups around the world. (Very high confidence)
Key Finding 2
The frequency and intensity of extreme heat and heavy precipitation events are increasing in most continental regions of the world (very high confidence). These trends are consistent with expected physical responses to a warming climate. Climate model studies are also consistent with these trends, although models tend to underestimate the observed trends, especially for the increase in extreme precipitation events (very high confidence for temperature, high confidence for extreme precipitation). The frequency and intensity of extreme high temperature events are virtually certain to increase in the future as global temperature increases (high confidence). Extreme precipitation events will very likely continue to increase in frequency and intensity throughout most of the world (high confidence). Observed and projected trends for some other types of extreme events, such as floods, droughts, and severe storms, have more variable regional characteristics.
Key Finding 3
Many lines of evidence demonstrate that it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. Formal detection and attribution studies for the period 1951 to 2010 find that the observed global mean surface temperature warming lies in the middle of the range of likely human contributions to warming over that same period. We find no convincing evidence that natural variability can account for the amount of global warming observed over the industrial era. For the period extending over the last century, there are no convincing alternative explanations supported by the extent of the observational evidence. Solar output changes and internal variability can only contribute marginally to the observed changes in climate over the last century, and we find no convincing evidence for natural cycles in the observational record that could explain the observed changes in climate. (Very high confidence)
Key Finding 4
Global climate is projected to continue to change over this century and beyond. The magnitude of climate change beyond the next few decades will depend primarily on the amount of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases emitted globally and on the remaining uncertainty in the sensitivity of Earth’s climate to those emissions (very-high confidence). With significant reductions in the emissions of greenhouse gases, the global annually averaged temperature rise could be limited to 3.6°F (2°C) or less. Without major reductions in these emissions, the increase in annual average global temperatures relative to preindustrial times could reach 9°F (5°C) or more by the end of this century (high confidence).
Key Finding 5
Natural variability, including El Niño events and other recurring patterns of ocean–atmosphere interactions, impact temperature and precipitation, especially regionally, over months to years. The global influence of natural variability, however, is limited to a small fraction of observed climate trends over decades. (Very high confidence)
Key Finding 6
Longer-term climate records over past centuries and millennia indicate that average temperatures in recent decades over much of the world have been much higher, and have risen faster during this time period, than at any time in the past 1,700 years or more, the time period for which the global distribution of surface temperatures can be reconstructed. (High confidence)
None of that is perhaps new to you if you already keep up to date on the topic.
Side note: The words in red are terms that are very specifically defined within the report and are not vague but instead express a very precise degree of meaning. For example, “Very high confidence” is defined to mean …
In the News
As you might anticipate, the formal issuance of a report that confirms the robustness of the evidence for us being the cause of Climate Change by a climate denying anti-science administration makes the news.
The Trump administration released a dire scientific report Friday calling human activity the dominant driver of global warming, a conclusion at odds with White House decisions to withdraw from a key international climate accord, champion fossil fuels and reverse Obama-era climate policies.
To the surprise of some scientists, the White House did not seek to prevent the release of the government’s National Climate Assessment, which is mandated by law. The report affirms that climate change is driven almost entirely by human action, warns of a worst-case scenario where seas could rise as high as eight feet by the year 2100, and details climate-related damage across the United States that is already unfolding as a result of an average global temperature increase of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since 1900.