By James Taylor
Obama-era deep-state bureaucrats have issued a dubious climate report that warns of imminent devastation from global warming. The report presents discredited assertions from environmental activist groups as “evidence” to support its findings, as well as predictions of temperature change and extreme weather events that have already been contradicted by real-world data.
In 1990, Congress required a consortium of 13 federal agencies — the U.S. Global Climate Research Program (USGCRP) — to publish a series of reports, at least once every four years, assessing climate change and offering guidance on the topic. On Friday, USGCRP issued Volume 2 of its fourth National Climate Assessment. The USGCRP’s steering committee and authors are composed almost entirely of Obama-era deep-state holdovers. The two lead authors for the report — prominent, controversial global warming activists Don Wuebbles and Katherine Hayhoe — were put in place by the Obama administration.
Ignoring embarrassing mistakes made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the USGCRP decided to rely on non-peer reviewed propaganda ‘grey papers’ published by leftist climate alarmists. The USGCRP explains its report is “complemented by other sources (such as gray literature) where appropriate.” The IPCC has a history of making sensational assertions — that it since had to explain, revise, and retract — based on grey papers.
The USGCRP has also followed the United Nations’ lead of relying on environmental activist groups and environmental activist group staffers to justify its outlandish assertions. Pointing out a preposterous claim in the report that global warming will increase global temperatures by 14 degrees Fahrenheit and reduce U.S. gross domestic product by 10 percent, climate scientist Roger Pielke, Jr. observed, “Shouldn’t such an outlandish, outlier conclusion been caught in the review process? Not a good look that sole review editor for this chapter is an alum of the Center for American Progress … which is funded by Tom Steyer.”
“By presenting cherrypicked science, at odds w/ NCA Vol,1 & IPCC AR5, the authors of NCA Vol.2 have given a big fat gift to anyone who wants to dismiss climate science and policy,” Pielke, Jr. added.
The report is saturated with discredited fake news assertions on climate science and economics. For example, the report’s summary claims, “More frequent and intense extreme weather and climate-related events, as well as changes in average climate conditions, are expected to continue to damage infrastructure, ecosystems, and social systems that provide essential benefits to communities.” One of the many problems with this assertion is there have yet to be “more frequent and intense” extreme weather events that “continue” to inflict damage on society. Objective data show hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, and wildfires all either show no increased frequency or severity trends in recent decades.
On economics, the report’s summary claims, “Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.” Among the many problems with this assertion is affordable energy, provided by the very fossil fuels vilified in the report, continues to be a central factor in the economic growth and prosperity of the United States during the post-World War II era. There are no credible claims that modestly warming temperatures caused significant negative impacts on American infrastructure, property, and the economy. To the contrary, restricting the use of affordable fossil fuels will substantially reduce disposable household income and living standards.
The report’s summary contains a special section on asserted water impacts, alleging “Rising air and water temperatures and changes in precipitation are intensifying droughts, increasing heavy downpours, reducing snowpack, and causing declines in surface water quality, with varying impacts across regions. Future warming will add to the stress on water supplies and adversely impact the availability of water in parts of the United States.” Rather than causing “stress on water supplies,” federal government data show most parts of the United States are experiencing moderate increases in precipitation and soil moisture and dramatic declines in drought frequency and intensity. For example, in 2017, the United States set a record for the smallest percentage of the country experiencing drought. In 2018, the United States extended its ongoing record for the longest time period on record (nearly 40 years and counting) without at least 40 percent of the country experiencing what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines as “very dry” conditions.
On health issues, a special section claims, “Impacts from climate change on extreme weather and climate-related events, air quality, and the transmission of disease through insects and pests, food, and water increasingly threaten the health and well-being of the American people, particularly populations that are already vulnerable.” However, federal mortality data show nearly 1,000 more Americans die every day during cold winter months than hot summer months. Furthermore, a landmark study in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet reports that 95 percent of climate and temperature-related deaths worldwide are caused by cold temperatures rather than warm or hot temperatures.
On agriculture, another special section claims, “Rising temperatures, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on rangelands, and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the United States. Expected increases in challenges to livestock health, declines in crop yields and quality, and changes in extreme events in the United States and abroad threaten rural livelihoods, sustainable food security, and price stability.” Yet U.S. and global crop production set new records nearly every year with warmer temperatures, longer growing seasons, and higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels creating ideal growing conditions.
The over-the-top, cover-to-cover climate fables in the USGCRP report by agenda-driven climate activists demonstrates the need for the Trump administration to clean out agenda-driven deep-state holdovers from the Obama administration. The false assertions in the climate report not only distort public understanding of scientific reality, they perniciously provide fodder for lawsuits and other actions taken by global warming extremists against government and private entities. For example, Michael Oppenheimer, a climate alarmist at Princeton University, told The New York Times, “This report will weaken the Trump administration’s legal case for undoing climate change regulations, and it strengthens the hands of those who go to court to fight them.”
James Taylor is senior fellow for environment and climate policy at The Heartland Institute, a nonprofit group advocating for limited-government policy.