AS TRUMP QUES­TIONS GLOBAL WARM­ING, UN SAYS: US GOV’T WON’T

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A top U.N. sci­en­tist on Thurs­day shrugged off an on­line quip from U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump that ques­tioned global warm­ing, say­ing a U.S. gov­ern­ment re­port will show the “fun­da­men­tal im­pacts of cli­mate change on the U.S. con­ti­nent.”

Of­fi­cials at the World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­ga­ni­za­tion also said en­vi­ron­men­tally minded ef­forts by the state of Cal­i­for­nia, in parts of the fi­nan­cial sec­tor, among grass­roots ac­tivists and oth­ers will have more of an im­pact to help the fight against cli­mate change than “po­lit­i­cal dis­tur­bance” and “dis­course” will im­pede it.

The science, they said, will have the last word.

Some of that science comes Fri­day in a new U.S. fed­eral cli­mate change as­sess­ment re­port, from agen­cies in­clud­ing the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion and the De­part­ment of En­ergy.

“It’s very in­ter­est­ing what you will see to­mor­row,” said Pavel Ka­bat, WMO’s chief sci­en­tist. “That is a ma­jor re­port com­ing sup­ported by all agen­cies ... un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Trump rang­ing from NOAA to NASA, from NASA to DOE, show­ing the fun­da­men­tal im­pacts of cli­mate change on the U.S. con­ti­nent.”

Ka­bat was speak­ing at a news con­fer­ence to present WMO’s lat­est green­house gas bul­letin, which said lev­els in the at­mos­phere climbed to a record last year. In a state­ment, WMO sec­re­tary­gen­eral Pet­teri Taalas warned “the win­dow of op­por­tu­nity” to act against cli­mate change has nearly closed.

WMO says glob­ally av­er­aged con­cen­tra­tions of car­bon diox­ide reached 405.5 parts per mil­lion in 2017, up slightly from the pre­vi­ous year and from 400.1 in 2015. Con­cen­tra­tions of other heat-trap­ping gases, like meth­ane and ni­trous ox­ide, also rose.

The find­ings come ahead of next month’s meet­ing of world lead­ers in Katowice, Poland, for the an­nual global cli­mate sum­mit where they hope to find ways to im­ple­ment the 2015 Paris cli­mate ac­cord that aims to keep global warm­ing at 1.5 de­grees Cel­sius.

The Pa­cific is­land na­tion of Van­u­atu, which lies about 2,000 kilo­me­ters north­east of Aus­tralia, is one of those coun­tries al­ready suf­fer­ing se­vere ef­fects of cli­mate change.

Its for­eign min­is­ter, Ralph Re­gen­vanu, said his gov­ern­ment is ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of su­ing fos­sil fuel com­pa­nies re­spon­si­ble for most man-made green­house gas emis­sions over the dam­age they have caused.

“By hid­ing what they knew and mis­rep­re­sent­ing the dan­gers of un­abated fos­sil fuel use, the fos­sil fuel in­dus­try and sup­port­ive gov­ern­ments pro­tected their high-emis­sions prof­its and ob­structed the changes needed to pre­vent or at least min­i­mize the im­pacts of cli­mate change,” he told a ‘vir­tual’ sum­mit of na­tions that are vul­ner­a­ble to cli­mate change.

WMO’s Taalas said the last time Earth had such high lev­els of car­bon diox­ide con­cen­tra­tion was 3-5 mil­lion years ago.

With­out cuts in green­house gases, Taalas said, “cli­mate change will have in­creas­ingly de­struc­tive and ir­re­versible im­pacts on life on Earth.”

That came just hours af­ter Trump, who once called global warm­ing a “hoax” and has pulled the United States out of the Paris cli­mate agree­ment, floated a new ques­tion about cli­mate change on Twit­ter: “Bru­tal and Ex­tended Cold Blast could shat­ter ALL RECORDS - What­ever hap­pened to Global Warm­ing?”

De­spite that, Ka­bat cited a “global trans­for­ma­tion” un­der­way in think­ing about global warm­ing, say­ing “the point of no re­turn has been passed.” He said ef­forts by some in­dus­tries, in civil so­ci­ety and by lo­cal of­fi­cials could “over­take” gov­ern­men­tal agree­ments or state­ments on the is­sue.

“I think on the longer timescale we are not that much wor­ried about the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal dis­tur­bance,” he said.

“De­spite the state­ments of Pres­i­dent Trump, there is still a very con­crete and spe­cific move­ment by the agen­cies un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tion to ac­tu­ally make the case of ac­tion against cli­mate change,” Ka­bat said.

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