Climate scientists have struggled to make their voices heard in the realm of politics. The past few weeks have demonstrated this struggle, leaving many scientists disheartened by the lack of progress. To add fire to the already warming world, the Trump administration displayed a cynical view of the environment that has rarely been seen before.
Sometimes, climate science is stifled by bureaucracy and foreign relations that lead scientists to be disheartened by the lack of progress. This is best demonstrated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s governing body on climate change.
The job of the IPCC is to promote the climate goals set by the world’s governments, such as those that were set by the Paris climate agreement, but the panel has no direct control over the choices governments make. In order to help enforce the rules, the IPCC must be able to inform governments about why the rules are necessary, which can be a difficult task.
Drew Shindell, a climate expert at Duke University and one of the authors of the IPCC report, said, “The pledges countries made during the Paris climate accord don’t get us anywhere close to what we have to do. They haven’t really followed through with actions to reduce their emissions in any way commensurate with what they profess to be aiming for.”
At other times, important science is hidden in stacks of unnecessary paperwork. For example, the Trump administration’s EPA recently released a 500-page environmental impact statement in which it was projected that the planet would warm a disastrous 4 degrees Celsius by the year 2100.
The latest move of the Trump administration has been to use climate data as a way to argue against environmentally-friendly policies. The administration used the 500-page report to take an anti-environment stance. Instead of issuing the 4 degrees Celsius projection as a warning against climate change, the Trump administration used it to make the argument that the fate of the planet is unchangeable.
The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration issued a draft statement that justified President Trump’s decision to freeze federal fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks built after 2020, citing that the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that the standards would cause isn’t enough to save the planet.
This “unstoppable” view of climate change is dangerous. NASA has stated that some of the effects that can be expected from climate change are the loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise and longer, more intense heat waves.
Other organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have noted further effects of climate change on life. WWF noted that the impacts of climate change vary in different kinds of forests, with Sub-Arctic boreal forests being put in the most danger. The EDF took a different route, arguing that climate change can have a significant impact on human life: damaging agriculture, polluting the air and destroying transportation infrastructure.
The WWF has also released climate change ads focused on protecting wildlife from its impacts:
The IPCC states, “Taken as a whole, the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time.”