The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its annual Arctic Report Card on Tuesday, and boy is it not great. Some key findings:
- The environmental system in the Arctic has reached a “new normal.” Atmospheric temperatures are rising at double the rate of the rest of the planet and ice is consistently decreasing in extent and thickness. The polar region shows “no sign of returning to [the] reliably frozen region of recent past decades.”
- Arctic tundra is experiencing “record permafrost warming.” Permafrost contains huge amounts of frozen greenhouse gases, and when it melts, it releases those gases into the atmosphere, further worsening global warming.
- Sea ice is declining and atmospheric temperatures are increasing rapidly. Both phenomena are happening at rates “higher than at any other time in the last 1,500 years, and likely longer than that.”
- The ocean is getting hotter. In the polar Barents and Chukchi seas, ocean water was a scalding 7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than just a few decades ago.
This report is serious business. It is a peer-reviewed document that includes the work of 85 scientists across 12 countries. It is also a government report—meaning it’s the product of President Donald Trump’s administration. Trump is a climate science denier, meaning he doesn’t think any of this is real. In fact, most people Trump has appointed to run the government don’t think any of this is real.
At least one of Trump’s appointees does, though: Retired Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet, the acting administrator of NOAA, who helped unveil the report card at the American Geophysical Union annual conference on Tuesday. According to The Washington Post, Gallaudet said the findings “directly relate to the priorities of this administration,” which are protecting national security and economic security. Both are clearly impacted by these findings, as melting ice produces new naval pathways through the region and thawing permafrost worsens one of the world’s biggest economic threats.
But Trump is doing nothing about climate change—in fact, he appears to be doing everything he can to undo progress on reducing emissions. If national and economic security are Trump’s priorities, perhaps he should start listening to his own scientists.