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Extreme weather events, such as the recent flooding from Hurricane Florence in North Carolina, will be more frequent and intense under higher levels of global warming. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In calculating the potential environmental impacts of freezing federal fuel economy standards in 2020, the Trump administration made the assumption that the world will warm by about 4°C, or 7.2°F, by 2100, when compared to preindustrial levels, first reported by the E&E News and since confirmed by Axios.

Why it matters: Such a high amount of warming would also far exceed the amount that scientists say would result in potentially catastrophic impacts, including the partial to complete collapse of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets. It also would be double the amount of warming that world leaders set as their target in the Paris Climate Agreement, which the Trump administration intends to pull out of.

The details: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration document states that the impacts of nearly 7°F of global warming would be severe, including "increases in mortality and morbidity due to excessive heat and other extreme weather events" and the swamping of cities due to sea level rise.

  • However, it argues that weakening the strict fuel economy standards enacted under the Obama administration would result in a tiny additional amount of warming, contributing relatively little to this overall temperature increase.
  • The document also assumes that global emissions of greenhouse gases will proceed along their current path.

"The amazing thing they’re saying is human activities are going to lead to this rise of carbon dioxide that is disastrous for the environment and society. And then they’re saying they’re not going to do anything about it," Michael MacCracken, a climate scientist who led the U.S. Global Change Research Program during the Clinton administration, told the Post.

What's next: News of the Trump administration's stark view of climate change comes ahead of a major report set to be released on October 7 by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, analyzing the feasibility and benefits of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, or 2.7°F, relative to preindustrial levels.

Editor's note: This story was updated to indicate that E&E News, not the Washington Post, first revealed the administration's climate analysis.

Go deeper

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
10 mins ago - Health

Overturning Roe could strain abortion access even in blue states

The Supreme Court is reflected in a woman's sunglasses during a march Oct. 2. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortions could be harder to access even in states where they remain legal, because those clinics could be flooded with patients from states that have cracked down.

The big picture: This has happened before, and clinics fear the crush of demand would be a major problem in the immediate wake of a decision that would allow states to ban abortion.

A critical race theory founder says he's being inundated with threats

Richard Delgado. Photo: Courtesy of Richard Delgado

Richard Delgado, one of the founders of the critical race theory movement, tells Axios he and his wife have been receiving a steady stream of threatening messages since the coordinated, conservative campaign against critical race theory began.

Why it matters: Educators across the country — even some elementary school teachers — have faced harassment and threats over the past year over lesson plans that teach about system racism in the U.S.

Burnout, money, concern drive Harris turnover

Vice President Kamala Harris and another potential 2024 presidential candidate, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, appeared together Thursday in Charlotte, N.C. Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

Burnout, better opportunities and concern about being permanently branded a "Harris person" is driving some of the turnover in Vice President Kamala Harris's office, people familiar with the situation tell Axios.

Why it matters: Harris is not only a heartbeat from the presidency but, by virtue of her office, the presumed 2024 frontrunner if President Biden doesn't seek re-election. There's been an inordinate amount of disarray — and, now, turnover — throughout her tenure.