Today is the deadline for 13 federal agencies to respond to a sweeping climate science report that draws on extensive research to show that humans are warming the world at an unprecedented pace.
Some Trump administration Cabinet members, and the president himself, have contradicted the type of basic climate science contained throughout the 669-page report. U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry have claimed, incorrectly, that carbon dioxide is not the primary driving force behind climate change.
The report symbolizes what Pruitt and Perry claim doesn’t exist: scientific agreement on climate change. Drawing on dozens of studies from across the world, it demonstrates clearly that humans are warming the Earth at an unprecedented rate by burning fossil fuels and that some disastrous consequences can be expected as a result. The science has only gotten stronger in recent years, according to those who produced the report.
The congressionally mandated report requires responses from 13 federal agencies. Each one has someone in charge of coordinating the response, and there are people actively at work on those comments, said Katharine Hayhoe, a lead author of the report and a professor of political science at Texas Tech University.
The final signoff is not peer-reviewed because that has already been conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, she said. The agencies’ comments are meant to ensure that it meets federal government standards, she said. The draft version, on which agencies must comment, is the special science section of the National Climate Assessment.
“This report is one of, if not the most thoroughly peer-reviewed report on climate change ever produced in the United States,” Hayhoe said. “Not only has it been reviewed by peers, not only has it been reviewed by every relevant federal agency already once, not only has it been open for public review, it was reviewed by a committee convened by the National Academy of Sciences specifically for the purpose of reviewing this report.”
And yet it’s unclear how the Trump administration will respond, if it does at all. An unconditional approval of the draft is unlikely. There can be a conditional approval — which happened with the third draft under the Obama administration — with relatively minor changes.