The Trump administration may have blocked testimony on climate change from State Department intelligence analyst Rod Schoonover, and they may have pushed to suppress mention of climate change in official policy statements, but that doesn’t mean that climate change is not happening.
According to the latest report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), June 2019 was the hottest on record globally. According to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, June’s average land surface temperature was 2.41 degrees Fahrenheit above average – the highest June land temperature in the 140-year record. In addition, a number of significant climate anomalies and events occurred.
Among the climate anomalies:
- Alaska had it’s second warmest June on record
- Above- to much-above-average precipitation across the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys and along much of the East Coast
- Hawaii had it’s highest June temperature departure from average on record
- South America had its highest June temperature on record
- Europe had it’s warmest June on record, with Austria, Germany, and Hungary all recording their hottest June ever recorded
- The Kingdom of Bahrain had a national average temperature higher for June than any recorded
- Africa had their warmest June on record
- Arctic Sea ice was 10.5 percent below average
- Antarctic Sea ice was 8.5 percent below average
Rising U.S. Pollution Levels
It’s no secret that the Trump administration has been disastrous for the climate. Under Trump, 83 environmental rules and regulations have been eliminated, including:
- 22 regarding air pollution and emissions
- 18 regarding drilling and extraction
- 13 regarding infrastructure and planning
- 10 regarding wildlife
- 5 regarding toxic substances and safety
- 7 regarding water pollution
- 8 uncategorized
In 2018, carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. rose 3.4 percent, the largest increase in eight years. According to the New York Times, the industrial sector will become the second-biggest source of emissions in California by 2020, second only to transportation, and the largest source of emissions in Texas by 2022.
In fact, the Trump administration’s rollbacks of climate change regulations could result in an estimated additional 200 million tons of carbon emissions per year by 2025.
“The Trump administration’s actions amount to a virtual surrender to climate change,” said a report by the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center.
The Dangers of a Warming Planet
According to a new report released by the Union of Concerned Scientists, with no further action to reduce emissions, by the midcentury mark (2036-2065):
- The average number of days per year with a heat index above 100 degrees F will more than double.
- The average number of days per year with a heat index above 105 degrees F will quadruple.
- More than a third of the U.S. will experience extreme heat conditions that exceed the current National Weather Service heat index range at least once per year, on average.
- Nearly one-third of the U.S.’ cities with a population of 50,000 or more will experience an average of 30 days or more with a heat index of over 105 degrees F, affecting an estimated more than 90 million people (based on current population estimates).
This level of dangerous heat is particularly harmful to children and the elderly, leading to an increase of allergy attacks, fever, electrolyte imbalance, and even kidney disease. Heat exposure can also lead to worsening symptoms of physical and psychiatric illnesses, leading to an increase in heat-related death.
The report outlines three possible scenarios for the future:
- A “no action” scenario: emissions continue to rise and global average temperatures warm by nearly 8 degrees F. This is the scenario most consistent with current and historical context.
- A “slow action” scenario: emissions begin to decline by midcentury. Global average temperatures rise to 4.3 degrees F.
- A “rapid action” scenario: future global average warming is limited to 3.6 degrees above average, as prescribed by the Paris Agreement.
In the first scenario, the report states that “across broad swaths of the United States, extreme heat conditions would need to be measured in weeks or months by midcentury. And by late century, few refuges from extreme heat will remain.”
To protect the U.S. against extreme heat, the report recommends the following:
- The federal government must invest in scientific research, data, tools, and public communication related to extreme heat risks and protective actions, including implementing the National Weather Service Weather-Ready Nation Strategic Plan.
- State and local governments need to invest in developing localized heat adaptation plans and heat emergency response plans.
- Federal and state governments should expand funding for programs that provide cooling assistance to low- and fixed-income households, especially for the elderly and those with medical conditions.
- State utility regulators and legislators should require utilities to provide uninterrupted power service for residents, particularly the elderly, sick, and those with disabilities during periods of extreme heat.
- Congress should have OSHA set health-protective national occupational heat standards for outdoor and indoor workers under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
You can read the full report, as well as the full list of recommendations here.
Jenn Bentley is a freelance journalist and editor who publishes Wander N.O. More, a travel-focused digital publication focused on the small businesses, events, people and projects that are the backbone of New Orleans. Her work has also been featured in publications such as The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, Examiner.com, and others. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_