The Trump Team Debates Climate Change: What Are The Evidence And The Issues?

ArmchairPolitiicianClimateChange, May 12, 2017, by Brad Peery, bradpeery007@gmail.com, www.ArmchairPolitician.US

NASA has published very good outlines on the causes of climate change, and the present and possible future consequences. President Trump apparently does not believe climate change is real. The U.S. is reexamining whether it should be a participant in the Paris climate agreement. This is made difficult by its agenda to revive the coal industry, and develop additional oil and gas supplies, including expanding offshore drilling.

There is a real split on Trump’s team. Steve Bannon, Trump’s top strategist, favors withdrawal from the Paris agreement, as does Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator. Rick Perry, the Secretary of Energy, seems to believe the Paris Agreement should be renegotiated. Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State, and Trump’s family members and advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, appear to favor being in the agreement.

China vs. U.S. Carbon Reduction Issue

China’s contribution to carbon emission reductions appears to be a major Trump administration issue, since China’s emissions are not forecasted to peak until 2030.

On June 30, 2015, China formally submitted its intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) to the new global climate agreement concluded in Paris. China committed to the following actions by 2030:

· Peaking of carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 and making best efforts to peak early;

· Lowering carbon dioxide intensity (carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP) by 60 to 65 percent from the 2005 level;

By contrast, the United States has committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26–28 percent below the 2005 level in 2025, and to make “best efforts” to reduce emissions by 28 percent. Carbon emissions from the United States have been dropping since the year 2000.

Climate Change Causes

A layer of greenhouse gases, primarily water, but including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide (“greenhouse gases”), blankets the earth, and holds the average temperature to about 59 degrees Fahrenheit. The main cause of the current global warming trend is human caused expansion of the greenhouse effect, higher temperatures that result from the atmosphere trapping heat, instead of letting it radiate into space. Greenhouse gases, such as those generated by the use of fossil fuels to generate energy, block heat from escaping and can increase global temperatures.

Human Contributions

In the United Nations’ Fifth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of 1,300 independent scientific experts from countries all over the world concluded there’s a more than 95 percent probability that human activities over the past 50 years have warmed our planet.

Industrial activities have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years, and the increases are continuing.

Scientific and Visual Evidence

There is a vast amount of scientific evidence that confirms the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and its effect in raising global temperatures. And, the buildup of greenhouse gases is accelerating.

The evidence for rapid climate change is compelling:

· Sea level rise;

o The global sea level rose 8 inches in the last century, and the rate of increase in the last 20 years is about double that rate;

· Global temperature rise;

o The earth’s average temperature has risen by 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century, driven by human-made emissions, with the U.S. being a very large contributor. Most of the warming occurred in the last 35 years, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. Not only was 2016 the warmest year on record, but eight of the 12 months that make up the year — from January through September, with the exception of June — were the warmest on record for those respective months.

o The number of record high temperature events in the United States has been increasing, while the number of record low temperature events has been decreasing, since 1950. The U.S. has also witnessed an increasing numbers of intense rainfall events.

· Warming oceans;

o The oceans have absorbed much of the increased heat;

§ The top 2,300 feet of the ocean has increased in temperature by 0.3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969

· Shrinking ice sheets;

o The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass

§ Data from NASA shows Greenland lost 150 to 250 cubic kilometers (36 to 60 cubic miles) of ice per year between 2002 and 2006,

§ While, Antarctica lost about 152 cubic kilometers (36 cubic miles) of ice between 2002 and 2005.

· Declining Arctic sea ice;

o Both the extent and thickness of Arctic sea ice has declined rapidly over the last several decades

· Extreme events

o Glaciers are retreating worldwide, including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska and Africa.

· Ocean acidification

o Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30 percent. This increase is the result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and hence more being absorbed into the oceans. The amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the upper layer of the oceans is increasing by about 2 billion tons per year.

· Decreased snow cover

o Satellite observations reveal that the amount of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past five decades and that the snow is melting earlier

ArmchairPolitician.US Opinion: There is almost universal agreement that climate change is real. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes more than 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries, forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.

Global sea level has risen by about 8 inches since reliable record keeping began in 1880. It is projected to rise another 1 to 4 feet by 2100. This is the result of added water from melting land ice and the expansion of seawater as it warms. Recent results indicate that high end of current estimates may be too low.

The U.S. has an obligation to be a part of the Paris agreement. The U.S. has been a major contributor to past carbon emissions retained in the atmosphere. The major contributor to climate change in the future will be China, because of the size of their population, and their rapid economic growth. A goal of the U.S. might be to renegotiate the terms of its’ and China’s participation.