Government scientists worried that their long-in-the-works assessment of climate change would be suppressed. The concern hardly rates as overwrought. Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, says he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming.
What matters is that a draft of the climate report landed in the New York Times, the public learning that scientists from 13 federal agencies have concluded that Americans already are seeing the effects of climate change.
The purpose of such an assessment is to drive budgeting and policymaking. In that way, the report serves as timely reinforcement. The Senate Appropriations Committee recently issued a bipartisan report that amounts to a strong endorsement of government efforts to boost clean energy.
That stance diverges sharply from the budget plan of the Trump White House. The president has called for slashing deeply projects involving energy efficiency, renewable energy and other clean sources.
The federal government would be limited to basic research, no longer helping to test or bring new technologies to the market.
Fortunately, the Appropriations Committee report endorses a much broader view of the federal government’s role. As analysts at the Brookings Institution note, the committee grasps that utilities have limited research and development funds, often as part of keeping prices in check.
The report notes that even if greenhouse emissions ceased tomorrow, the planet still would see an additional temperature increase of 0.30 degrees Celsius. That may seem small. Yet scientists advise staying below an increase of 2 degrees. The planet already has seen a nearly 1 degree increase.
The report concludes that it is “extremely likely” that more than half of the global mean temperature increase since the 1950s stems from human activity. Now countries have the task of countering the impact. That is what the Paris agreement attempts to set in motion.
Thankfully, the Senate Appropriations Committee has pushed back. The hope is, Congress will follow the cue, supporting clean energy that is indispensable to curbing climate change.
(Akron Beacon Journal)