Nov 23, 2018 - Energy & Environment

The Black Friday climate report

Flames from the Camp fire burn near a home atop a ridge near Big Bend, California

Flames from the Camp fire burn near a home atop a ridge near Big Bend, California. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration didn't interfere with the content of today's grim report about the damage we're already seeing from climate change. It just released the report in a way that will draw the least attention possible: by putting it out on Black Friday.

  • That's a good way to minimize the impact of a science-heavy report that clashes with President Trump's attitude toward climate change.


  • Today's report is the second volume of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, a congressional mandated report.
  • In contrast to the first volume, released in November 2017, this one contains more information specific to vital U.S. economic sectors, regions and national interests.
  • At times, the report reads like a point-by-point rebuttal to Trump's climate change statements and policies, including his multiple claims that forest mismanagement is the reason why such devastating wildfires have occurred in the West.
  • The report's chapter on the Southwest, for example, cites evidence showing that the area burned during the past several decades "was more closely related to climate factors than to fire suppression, local fire management, or other non-climate factors."
  • It says climate change is also a big threat to U.S. trade and exports, and the approach of not acting on it to spur economic growth will backfire in the end.

Between the lines: On a press call this afternoon, reporter after reporter pressed the Trump administration on who decided the timing of the release and when. Their responses — the scientists stayed silent, and let a spokesperson handle the answers — suggested the timing was out of the scientists' hands.

The bottom line, per the climate report: Lives and property are already at risk in the U.S. due to climate change.

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