Jun 1, 2017

What you need to know about climate change

Charlie Riedel / AP

The issue:

President Trump's decision to pull out of the global Paris climate agreement — joining Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries not in the pact — will signal to the world that his administration does not view climate change as a significant concern.

Focus on this: Trump's call to withdraw might sway other countries around the globe, especially developing countries like India, to move away from an active position on combatting climate change.

The facts:

There's consensus: Of the peer-reviewed climate science papers that take a position on climate change, more than 97% agree that it is real and likely caused by human activity. NASA has a collection of major scientific organizations that also endorse this position.

The scientific evidence, per NASA:

  • Temperature: Earth's average surface temperature has risen by 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 1800s. And 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have taken place since 2001 — with 2016 as the warmest ever recorded.
  • Sea level: Global sea levels rose by 0.19 meters during the period from 1901 to 2010, but the NOAA predicts a rise of 0.3 to 2.5 meters during this century alone. A rise of 0.35 meters would increase the risk of damaging and disruptive flooding by 25 times for major U.S. coastal cities — and that could happen by 2030.
  • Sea ice: The extent of Arctic sea ice was at its lowest ever maximum this year, more than a half a million square miles below its long-term average.
  • Glaciers: The World Glacial Monitoring Service said that "the rates of early 21st-century [glacial] mass loss are without precedent on a global scale, at least for the time period observed and probably also for recorded history."
  • Extreme weather: Since 1950 the United States has become more likely to see record high temperatures and less likely to see record low temperatures — all while extreme weather events like drought become more common.
  • Ocean acidification: Carbon dioxide emitted into the air is absorbed by the oceans — as a result, the oceans' acidity has increased by 30 percent since the late 1800s — which harms coral reefs and other creatures that serve as the base of the sea's food web.
Why it matters:

Axios' Amy Harder summed it up in her analysis of the decision yesterday: "Trump's planned decision to withdraw from the deal will set the world back on an environmental issue nearly every other country realizes and acknowledges is a real problem in need of a global solution."

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2:30 p.m. ET: 1,506,936 — Total deaths: 90,057 — Total recoveries: 340,112Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2:30 p.m. ET: 432,596 — Total deaths: 14,831 — Total recoveries: 24,235Map.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump is preparing to launch a second coronavirus task force focused on reviving the U.S. economy.
  4. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under coronavirus public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  5. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — Another 6.6 million jobless claims were filed last week.
  6. World update: Boris Johnson is moved out of ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Your hydroxychloroquine questions answered.
  8. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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