Black Friday climate report: Trump waves white flag and fails to protect American people

Black Friday climate report: Trump waves white flag and fails to protect American people

What if the doctor said you had treatable cancer and then told you to ignore it? That’s essentially the Trump administration’s approach after the release of a devastating new federal report on climate change.

The Fourth National Climate Assessment, a report mandated by Congress and produced by 13 federal agencies, says “the impacts of climate change are intensifying across the country...how much they intensify will depend on actions taken to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.” This study is a deeply researched account of the damaging effects of unchecked climate pollution on our water, agriculture, transportation, air quality, communities and health. Its findings were endorsed by NASA, the Department of Defense, and experts at 10 other federal agencies.

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The reaction of the Trump administration? Dump the news on Black Friday and continue to pursue policies that make the problem worse. President TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE and his EPA administrators have pushed to allow more carbon and other climate pollution from cars, trucks, oil and gas operations, and power plants. They’ve worked to cut funding for climate research and removed important information about climate change from government web sites. And they’ve made the United States into an international outcast as the only country seeking to leave the Paris climate agreement and avoid its responsibility to solve this problem. 

With Trump waving a white surrender flag and failing to protect the American people, the new Congress must act boldly. Effective, market-based solutions exist. We know that there are policies that would help solve this problem. As a start, the House should establish clear goals for reducing pollution and holding polluters accountable. Congress should also pursue 100 percent clean energy which would spur innovation and job growth.

When I was chief of staff to a Midwestern senator, the most important voices to my boss were farmers and rural small business owners back home. They tended to take a pragmatic approach to most questions. For them, this report will be sobering reading:Rising temperatures, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on rangelands and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the U.S….Expect increases in challenges to livestock health, declines in crop yields and quality and changes in extreme events in the United States and abroad.”

The report lays out similar consequences for nearly every sector and for all parts of the country, saying it could reduce the size of the American economy by 10 percent by the end of this century.

Too much is at stake for this report to be dismissed. We all must come together — including those who are not traditionally aligned with the environmental movement — and push for practical solutions. 

The good news is we know the cure — cutting the pollution that is causing climate change — and now it is time for us to act. That will require citizens, companies, and community leaders to demand solutions. It will require political leadership from clear-eyed members of Congress who are willing to tackle this problem.

Despite the administration’s refusal to act, we still have time to act on behalf of ourselves, our children, and our country. The one question the report could not answer is: Will we?

Elizabeth Gore is Environmental Defense Fund’s senior vice president of political affairs.