In an obscure government report this week, the Trump administration forecasts global temperatures will rise an average of seven degrees around the world by 2100. As the Washington Post, which broke the story, put it:
Last month, deep in a 500-page environmental impact statement, the Trump administration made a startling assumption: On its current course, the planet will warm a disastrous seven degrees by the end of this century.
A rise of seven degrees Fahrenheit, or about four degrees Celsius, compared with preindustrial levels would be catastrophic, according to scientists. Many coral reefs would dissolve in increasingly acidic oceans. Parts of Manhattan and Miami would be underwater without costly coastal defenses. Extreme heat waves would routinely smother large parts of the globe.
The Post reporters go on to explain that the Trump administration was not warning of the risk of such warming, it was assuming that nothing would be done to hold down or reverse global warming around the world, leading to catastrophic runaway global warming. That’s according to consensus science.
Why bother with improving efficiency in car engines, if the planet is going to broil?
Here’s the report, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (pdf). (I haven’t had time to read its 500 pages, I confess, and looking through it I have yet to find the incriminating graph that would make the Post’s point visually.) But as Alex Steffen points out, this is embedding despair into public policy.
There’s a second play here: Induced despair.
We have tons of evidence showing that when people are made to feel that a problem in insurmountable, most simply stop caring about that problem.
Inducing climate despair is an effective tool for dampening demand for climate action.
— Alex Steffen (@AlexSteffen) September 28, 2018
Seven degrees warming is (fortunately) NOT inevitable. But if we THINK it is inevitable, it’s possible we will give up, and enable the long-term global climate disaster that most sensible people wish to avoid, all for the sake of short-term profits in the fossil fuel industries.