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Washington Says Seven-Degree Increase Is Coming, Doesn’t Outline Solutions

A federal evaluation of fuel-efficiency standards says that while drastic climate change is imminent, there is little reason to do anything about it.
October 5, 2018, 9am PDT | Camille Fink
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Evanna Chung

In August, an environmental impact statement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted that the planet would experience a seven-degree temperature increase by the end of the century. However, it did not describe the consequences of this level of climate change:

A rise of seven degrees Fahrenheit, or about four degrees Celsius, compared with preindustrial levels would be catastrophic, according to scientists. Many coral reefs would dissolve in increasingly acidic oceans. Parts of Manhattan and Miami would be underwater without costly coastal defenses. Extreme heat waves would routinely smother large parts of the globe.

Instead, the statement argued that a massive and infeasible shift away from fossil fuels would need to occur to avoid this temperature increase. The Trump administration says that its proposed freeze on fuel-efficiency standards will not have a substantial effect on global warming.

Critics have pointed out the problems with suggesting that fuel standards be rolled back because their impact would be minimal:

Using the no-action scenario "is a textbook example of how to lie with statistics," said MIT Sloan School of Management professor John Sterman. "First, the administration proposes vehicle efficiency policies that would do almost nothing [to fight climate change]. Then [the administration] makes their impact seem even smaller by comparing their proposals to what would happen if the entire world does nothing."

Environmental advocacy groups, scientists, and public officials in the United States and from around the world continue to push for policies and actions they say will address climate change. 

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Published on Friday, September 28, 2018 in The Washington Post
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