US environmental agency releases climate report delayed by Trump

Wildfire season is growing longer, the report found
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The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said for the first time that climate change is being driven at least in part by humans.

The agency made the acknowledgement in a new report that had been delayed by the Trump White House since 2017.

The Climate Change Indicators report charts the extent to which 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”.

A press officer for the EPA told the BBC that until Wednesday’s report, the agency had never before – not even during the Obama years – attributed global warming at least in part to human activities.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement announcing the resumption of the survey: “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.

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

What does the report say?

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.

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