In Brief

7-Degree Global Temperature Rise Is Inevitable, Trump Administration Presumes (and Shrugs It Off)

A cemetery in Bucksport, South Carolina, is inundated by floodwaters from the Waccamaw River caused by Hurricane Florence. The increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events such as this have been linked to human-induced climate change. (Image credit: Sean Rayford/Getty)

A recently issued environmental report suggests that leaders in the Trump administration have already shrugged off the possibility of putting the brakes on climate change, a stance that embraces a catastrophic future for the planet.

Scientists have warned that if current levels of fossil fuel consumption continue unchecked, Earth could warm by as much as 7 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) by 2100.

And according to this report, that prediction is already accepted by the government as inevitable — and nothing will be done to prevent it, The Washington Post reported today (Sept. 28). [6 Unexpected Effects of Climate Change]

Drafted in July, the environmental report was issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and its goal was to justify President Trump's proposal to freeze gas-mileage standards for light trucks and cars produced after 2020, according to The Washington Post.

Pushing to make vehicles more fuel efficient would reduce harmful emissions that contribute to global warming, while Trump's plan increases greenhouse gas emissions. But in a scenario where dire warming by 2100 was a foregone conclusion, Trump's policy wouldn't make that much of a difference, The Washington Post reported.

Since the age of industrialization began in 1880 — ushering in the widespread use of fossil fuels — global average temperatures rose 0.9 degrees F (0.5 degrees C) in just over a century. And if fossil- fuel burning continues unabated, temperatures would continue to rise along a similar trajectory, topping 7 degrees F (4 degrees C) by the end of the century.

According to the report, turning the tide of runaway climate change would require "substantial increases in technology innovation and adoption," and attempting such sweeping and dramatic change — even with the stakes as high as they are — is "not currently technologically feasible or economically feasible."

For more information, read the full story at The Washington Post.

Originally publishedon Live Science.

Mindy Weisberger
Live Science Contributor

Mindy Weisberger is an editor at Scholastic and a former Live Science channel editor and senior writer. She has reported on general science, covering climate change, paleontology, biology, and space. Mindy studied film at Columbia University; prior to Live Science she produced, wrote and directed media for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Her videos about dinosaurs, astrophysics, biodiversity and evolution appear in museums and science centers worldwide, earning awards such as the CINE Golden Eagle and the Communicator Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in Scientific American, The Washington Post and How It Works Magazine.