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What does the Climate Science Special Report even mean?

Lyndon Valicenti

This week’s news headlines have been dominated by fears that the White House may dismiss the findings in a new climate report. But what does the Climate Science Special Report even mean?

The Climate Science Special Report is a key input into the Fourth National Climate Assessment and “is designed to be an authoritative assessment of the science of climate change, with a focus on the United States.” 

Last released in 2014, the National Climate Assessment (NCA) is congressionally mandated to be conducted every four years. Guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee, the NCA is written by a team of more than 300 scientists and extensively reviewed by experts from 13 federal agencies and the National Academy of Sciences. This week, as part of the NCA process, a final draft of the Climate Science Special Report has been submitted to a White House committee for final review. 

Since the 2014 NCA, new evidence has emerged to support the conclusion that it is, statistically speaking, “extremely likely” that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. And, in fact, for the warming experienced over the last 100 years, there is no convincing alternative explanation. 

The report also points to significant advances in research that now connects human-induced increases in global temperatures to creating or worsening the extreme weather events we have seen, including the 2003 European and 2013 Australian heat waves and even the storm surge of Hurricane Sandy. 

Looking ahead, the full NCA will summarize the projected impacts of climate change on every region of the United States and serve as the foundation for efforts to assess climate-related risks and inform decision-making about responses.

Read the Final Draft of the Climate Science Special Report. Get to know the science and speak the truth.