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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

Democrat Mark Kelly sworn in to U.S. Senate

Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

Astronaut Mark Kelly (D) was sworn in to the U.S. Senate on Wednesday after defeating incumbent Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) last month for the seat once held by the late Sen. John McCain.

Why it matters: Kelly's swearing-in by Vice President Mike Pence narrows the Republican majority and moves the Senate balance to 52-48.

Senate Armed Services chair dismisses Trump threat to veto defense bill

Sen. Jim Inhofe. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters Wednesday that he plans to move ahead with a crucial defense-spending bill without provisions that would eliminate tech industry protections, defying a veto threat from President Trump.

Why it matters: Inhofe's public rebuke signals that the Senate could have enough Republican backing to override a potential veto from Trump, who has demanded that the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Scoop: Uber in talks to sell air taxi business to Joby

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Uber is in advanced talks to sell its Uber Elevate unit to Joby Aviation, Axios has learned from multiple sources. A deal could be announced later this month.

Between the lines: Uber Elevate was formed to develop a network of self-driving air taxis, but to date has been most notable for its annual conference devoted to the nascent industry.