The world converged on Bonn, Germany, Monday for the annual two-week, UN-sponsored climate change conference, known as COP23.
Despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement earlier in 2017, an American coalition led by Michael Bloomberg announced Saturday from COP23 that 20 states, 110 cities and over 1,400 businesses with U.S. operations have pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
While the massive agreement among non-state actors, known as “America’s Pledge”, is significant, The Guardian reported its reduction targets fall short of those spelled-out in the 2015 Paris accord.
Climate Science Special Report
Saturday’s announcement follows an exhaustive 477-page government study released Friday, Nov. 3, with the cooperation of 13 U.S. federal agencies, which finds human activity has overwhelmingly contributed to the rise in Earth’s average temperature by 1.8 degrees since 1901.
Evidence for global warming was found in the shrinking of global glaciers, a rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide and average global sea levels, ocean acidification and an increased frequency of violent storms. The change in carbon dioxide levels, for example, was found by analyzing air bubbles trapped in glacial ice cores.
In conjunction with Trump pulling out of the Paris agreement, however, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt stated in a March interview that “there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact,” humans have on climate change.
This report directly contradicts that statement. Many scientists were concerned that the findings would be buried by the EPA for political reasons, but those concerns proved to be unfounded.
However, the New York Times states that Mr. Trump was not aware of the report, which has yet to be submitted to the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy.
According to the study, there is a 95–100 percent likelihood climate change is being caused by human activity, which has contributed to at least 92 percent of global warming since 1950.
“Over the last century, there are no convincing alternative explanations,” the report read.
Like Trump himself, climate change deniers are unlikely to read a lengthy report which presents evidence of in excruciating detail, as a disturbing disconnect currently exists in America between scientific discovery and the public’s understanding of it.
Efforts must be made to bridge that gap or the publication of reports like this will have little impact on the public’s discussion of scientific and environmental issues.
Industries with powerful Washington lobbyists, after all, stand to lose significant amounts of money due to laws which limit atmospheric and aquatic pollutants — and now have a White House sympathetic to their collective causes, as a recent Reuters report highlights, which overtly opposes environmental regulations.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated.
[Bloomberg Philanthropies] [AP] [NPR] [Photo courtesy The Libertarian Republic]