NASA issues climate warning before Trump inauguration

Donald Trump will take over from President Barack Obama on Friday (20 January). [Gage Skidmore/ Flickr]

Last year was the hottest on record with temperatures rising across the planet, NASA has warned, just days before climate change denier Donald Trump takes over the US presidency.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research was published yesterday (18 January) ahead of Friday’s inauguration of Trump, who has voiced support for polluting fossil fuel industries.

The second hottest year on record is 2015 and higher temperatures then were blamed by some on the El Nino effect. This year, experts said El Niño was only responsible for 10% of the increase with the other 90% caused by man-made global warming.

“There’s no discrepancy or puzzle about what’s going on in 2016,” Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies said.

Trump claims that global warming is a hoax invented by the Chinese and there are fears he may pull the US, the world’s second largest CO2 emitter, out of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

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World leaders, including the whole EU, agreed to cap global warming at no more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels in a landmark pact that entered into force in November.

The ratification of the Paris Agreement was given unprecedented impetus by China and the Barack Obama-led US inking the deal at the same time. The EU followed soon afterwards.

Mark Breddy, head of communications at Greenpeace, said that the US has not done its part in fighting climate change.

“Whatever America does, that’s not going to change the fact on the ground. As the report has shown we’ve had record breaking temperatures. Europe has a responsibility to do what it can to stop climate change,” Breddy said.

“The US has been outside the global efforts to fight climate change and that hasn’t stopped the EU from acting and it shouldn’t stop it now.”

Sanjeev Kumar, founder of Change Partnership, said Europe has a responsibility to continue the climate change fight, even if Trump does not do his part.

“Europe has always been the heartbeat of international climate action. It must use its trade muscle to lock in China, India and others to clean investment pathways,” Kumar said.

The US did not sign the 2005 Kyoto Protocol, a precursor to the Paris Agreement that committed states to reducing greenhouse gas emissions via a carbon trading system.

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Deke Arndt, chief of NOAA’s global monitoring branch, said the planet had been getting hotter since the mid-20th century.

“Even if the data is hitting different notes along the way, it’s singing the same tune,” Arndt said of the multi-decade global warming trend.

Arndt was asked what message the research should send to Trump, who has admitted there could be some “connectivity” between man’s activities and climate change.

He said, “We prepared these analyses to share with the American people, that’s what we do.”

Kumar said the NASA report is less about climate science and more about action.

“In essence, it is a battle cry for the heart and soul of a responsible, caring and forward-looking US against the polluted interests of the fossil fuel swamp. Expect key states to fight hard for their clean future like they did under the Bush administration,” Kumar said.

Kumar also speculated that this should be Europe’s cue to take over NASA.

Obama shores up Paris Agreement with last-minute $500m payment

Barack Obama has heeded calls to help secure the future of the historic Paris Agreement by transferring a second $500 million instalment to the Green Climate Fund, just three days before he leaves office. That leaves $2 billion unpaid as Donald Trump takes office.

“Trump wants to slash NASA funding. This is a golden opportunity for Europe to relocate NASA to these shores and make Europe the global hub for science and technology. America’s loss must be the free world’s gain,” Kumar said.

The Arctic and Antarctic are warming two to three times faster than the rest of the planet and are suffering the most drastic results, according to the research.

Schmidt said he did not think 2017 would be another record breaker but it would be in the top five historical global temperatures.

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  • 20 Jan 2017: Donald Trump's inauguration

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