New re­port warns of wors­en­ing dis­as­ters, con­tra­dict­ing Trump

The Herald on Sunday - - THE WORLD -

DIS­AS­TERS like Cal­i­for­nia’s cat­a­strophic wild­fires are wors­en­ing be­cause of global warm­ing, ac­cord­ing to a US gov­ern­ment re­port that fre­quently con­tra­dicts Don­ald Trump.

The White House’s Na­tional Cli­mate As­sess­ment was writ­ten long be­fore the deadly fires in Cal­i­for­nia and be­fore Hur­ri­canes Florence and Michael rav­aged the east coast and Flor­ida.

It says warm­ing-charged ex­tremes “have al­ready be­come more fre­quent, in­tense, wide­spread or of long du­ra­tion”.

The re­port notes the last few years have smashed US records for dam­ag­ing weather, cost­ing nearly£312 bil­lion since 2015.

The re­cent North­ern Cal­i­for­nia wild­fires can be at­trib­uted to cli­mate change, but there was less of a con­nec­tion to those in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, said co-au­thor Wil­liam Ho­hen­stein of the US De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture. “A warm, dry cli­mate has in­creased the ar­eas burned over the last 20 years,” he said at a press con­fer­ence.

The re­port was orig­i­nally sched­uled for De­cem­ber. It of­ten clashes with the pres­i­dent’s past state­ments and tweets on the le­git­i­macy of cli­mate change sci­ence, how much of it is caused by hu­mans, how cycli­cal it is and what is caus­ing in­creases in re­cent wild­fires. Trump tweeted this week about the cold weather hit­ting the east, in­clud­ing: “Bru­tal and Ex­tended Cold Blast could shat­ter ALL RECORDS – What­ever hap­pened to Global Warm­ing?”

The re­port seemed to an­tic­i­pate such com­ments, say­ing: “Over shorter timescales and smaller geo­graphic re­gions, the in­flu­ence of nat­u­ral vari­abil­ity can be larger than the in­flu­ence of hu­man ac­tiv­ity ... Over cli­mate timescales of mul­ti­ple decades, how­ever, global tem­per­a­ture con­tin­ues to steadily in­crease.”

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