Dire report ‘not based on facts’ — White House

Source: Scott Waldman, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The White House continues to reject the findings of a recently released climate report compiled by scholars from 13 federal agencies across the government.

At a White House press briefing this afternoon, spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the National Climate Assessment, which echoes the findings of every major science agency in the world, was “not based on facts.”

“We think that this is the most extreme version and it’s not based on facts,” she said. “It’s not data-driven. We’d like to see something that is more data-driven, that’s based on modeling, which is extremely hard to do when you’re talking about the climate.”

Sanders’ comments came a day after Trump said he did not “believe” the science contained in the report (E&E News PM, Nov. 26).

But the White House’s talking points are based on “extreme” scenarios and those assertions are incorrect, according to the assessment’s authors.

The 1,700-page report explores a wide range of scenarios and predicts tens of billions of dollars in damages, a rise in deadly heat waves and coastal communities increasingly threatened by rising sea levels if nothing is done to stem planet-warming emissions.

A report author, Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University, pointed out on Twitter that the White House talking points were not true and easily disproved in the report.

“A WH spokesperson said the report was based on the ‘most extreme’ scenario,” she tweeted. “No: the report considered a very broad range of scenarios, from one where carbon emissions go negative to one where they continue to grow.”

Sometimes, the results do not vary much between scenarios. For example, the report highlights the estimated damage that would be associated with rising sea levels in the Southeast. It found the combined effect of sea-level rise and storm surge could cost $60 billion annually by 2050 in a higher-level scenario, compared with $56 billion under a lower scenario. That rises to $99 billion in 2090 under the higher scenario and $79 billion under the lower scenario.

“Modeling the climate is an extremely complicated science that is never exact,” Sanders said.

The report, however, found that climate models have largely been accurate, that climate change effects were already measurable and that the observed trends mirror the higher scenarios.

“The observed increase in global carbon emissions over the past 15-20 years has been consistent with higher scenarios (very high confidence),” the report states.