US environmental agency releases climate report delayed by Trump


A volunteer fire fighter doing training

Wildfire season is growing longer, the report found

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a major climate change report that had been delayed by the Trump White House since 2017.

The Climate Change Indicators report takes in data from dozens of US agencies, and shows the damage climate change has already caused.

Much of the information is well-known. Glaciers are shrinking, sea levels are rising and flooding is increasing.

The impacts are being felt by Americans “with increasing regularity”, it says.

Under former President Donald Trump, the EPA’s Climate Change Indicators website was not updated, as it had been under his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Mr Trump has long been a sceptic of human-caused climate change, at times calling it a “hoax”.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement on Wednesday announcing the resumption of the report: “Combatting climate change – it’s not optional. It’s essential at EPA.

“We will move with a sense of urgency because we know what’s at stake.

“We know that tackling the climate crisis is the single best opportunity we have to strengthen our economy, to put people back to work and to build a healthier, more equitable environment for our communities across America.”

What does the report find?

Coastal flooding is becoming more common, especially in cities along the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Floods are now five times more common in the cities surveyed than in the 1950s.

Arctic sea ice is thinning, and the minimum extent of its coverage has been getting smaller each summer. September 2020 saw the second smallest amount of Arctic sea ice ever recorded.

The average decrease for that month amounts to about 900,000 sq miles (1,450,000 sq km) – “a difference three and a half times the size of Texas”, the report says.

Ocean temperatures also hit a record-breaking high in 2020 and the water has grown more acidic over the past decade.

Wildfire season and pollen season are both starting earlier and lasting longer.

Heat waves are occurring about three times more often than in the 1960s.

The amount of energy use in the summer has nearly doubled since 1973. In 2015, air conditioning accounted for 17% of the average American household’s energy consumption.

Incidents of Lyme disease have nearly doubled since 1991. It comes as ticks, the blood-sucking insects that spread the virus, appear in regions such as parts of Canada where they were previously unable to survive the cold.

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