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Last Friday, the Washington Post printed a fake news whopper: “ Trump administration sees a 7-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100.” Within the blink of an eye, several other media outlets ran the story, spreading a false story like a forest fire. The New York Post, for example, published an article titled, “ Trump administration says climate change will make Earth a living hell by 2020.”
But it isn’t true. The Trump administration does not envision 7 degrees of global warming (or hell on Earth) by 2100, nor has the administration ever made such a prediction.
The Washington Post and New York Post articles cited a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration draft environmental impact statement, gauging the effects of the proposed vehicle mileage regulations known as the SAFE Vehicles Rule. The SAFE Vehicles Rule, which the Trump administration is considering, would reduce several of the restrictions in the Obama administration’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy mandates.
The SAFE Vehicles Rule correctly notes that there is only the tiniest difference in projected atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in the year 2100 between the CAFE requirements and the proposed SAFE Vehicles Rule. NHTSA notes that implementing the SAFE Vehicles Rule will result in less than a tenth of a percent increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.
And to illustrate just how little this will affect global temperatures, the draft environmental impact statement cites future temperature projections by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Utilizing NCAR baseline projections of a 3.484 degree Celsius rise (just over 6 degrees Fahrenheit) by the year 2100, NHTSA predicts the difference in temperature impact between the SAFE Vehicles Rule and the Obama CAFE restrictions would be a 0.003 degree Celsius increase.
Clearly, NHTSA’s reference to outside temperature projections was not intended to represent them as some sort of Trump administration climate projection. It is common government practice to reference or defer to outside sources for technical matters whose findings are outside the scope of the agency’s expertise. The Washington Post, New York Post, and other media outlets reporting on this issue surely knew this. Or should have known it.
However, even if these “news” organizations were oblivious to this common procedure, NHTSA explicitly explains in its draft environmental impact statement that it is making no independent findings of its own regarding climate. NHTSA states: “Given that NHTSA’s primary areas of technical and scientific expertise relate to the agency’s primary mission to reduce deaths and injuries from motor vehicle crashes, NHTSA has neither developed its own evidence nor drawn its own conclusions relating to climate change. Rather, for its understanding of climate science and analysis of the potential impacts of the alternatives on climate change, NHTSA relies on existing … studies and reports.”
It would be virtually impossible for NHTSA to make it any clearer that the agency made no independent findings on future climate change. Besides, NHTSA, of all agencies, would never have the authority to speak on behalf of the Trump administration in an area well outside its scope of expertise.
The estimates cited, however, do help illustrate that the Obama administration’s CAFE fuel mileage restrictions were about to generate all economic pain with no climate gain. Even assuming all alarmist assertions about pending climate Armageddon, CAFE would have resulted in an infinitesimally small, insignificant three-thousandths of a degree difference in temperature change relative to the SAFE Vehicles Rule.
The estimates also helped, if unintentionally, demonstrate that many in the media will do anything to portray the Trump administration in a negative light.
[Originally Published at the Washington Examiner]