Former Vice President Al Gore accused the Trump administration of trying to “bury’ a damning government report that linked global warming to the worsening of natural disasters by quietly releasing the study on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Gore, who since his time as vice president has become an outspoken advocate for the need to counteract the effects of global warming, said in a statement that the White House was trying to “bury this critical U.S. assessment of the climate crisis” by releasing it the day after Thanksgiving. The day, known as Black Friday, has become the traditional start of the holiday shopping season and one that most Americans have off from work.
“Unbelievably deadly and tragic wildfires rage in the West, hurricanes batter our coasts — and the Trump administration chooses the Friday after Thanksgiving to try and bury this critical U.S. assessment of the climate crisis,” Gore said in a statement that he posted on Twitter Friday. “The president may try to hide the truth, but his own scientists and experts have made it as stark and clear as possible.”
The National Climate Assessment, which is mandated by law every few years and is based on more than 1,000 previous research studies, details how global warming -- from the burning of coal, oil and gas -- is hurting each region of the United States and how it impacts different sectors of the economy, including energy and agriculture. It was written long before the deadly fires in California this month and before Hurricanes Florence and Michael raked the East Coast and Florida.
"Climate change is transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us," the report says.
This includes worsening air pollution causing heart and lung problems, more diseases from insects, the potential for a jump in deaths during heat waves, and nastier allergies, according to the report.
“Annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century — more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many U.S. states," the report says. It'll be especially costly on the nation's coasts because of rising seas and severe storm surges, which will lower property values. And in some areas, such as parts of Alaska and Louisiana, coastal flooding will likely force people to relocate.”
While Gore has become one of the most prominent advocates for reducing carbon emissions and fighting to reduce the effect of climate change, the former vice president has not been immune from claims that his work is not as altruistic as it appears.
Gore left the vice president’s residence with a relatively modest net worth of $1.7 million -- mostly from family farm assets -- but since the release of his 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” and his continuing global tour to preach his message, he has amassed a fortune valued at upward of $200 million. From the fossil fuels he burns jetting around the globe, to his socializing with Hollywood heavy hitters, to his 6,500-square-foot seafront home in California that cost $8.8 million, some climate activists have questioned whether Gore is helping or hurting the climate fight.
“He is a flawed character,” Stephen Lacey, editor-in-chief of the magazine GreenTechMedia, said on his podcast “The Energy Gang” last year. “We’re in an era of backlash against elites, so Gore, a guy who bought a 6,500-square-foot seafront home in California for $8.8 million, and who hangs around with other celebrities who talk big on climate but who live lavish lifestyles, is the perfect target at this point in time.”
Gore’s lifestyle aside, his statement comes amid what appears to be a continuing denial from Trump and members of his administration about the dangers climate change poses to the environment and to the world’s economy.
Earlier in the week, Trump tweeted about the brutal cold spell that hit the East Coast over the Thanksgiving holiday and questioned “Whatever happened to Global Warming?”
Friday's report seemed to anticipate such comments, saying: "Over shorter timescales and smaller geographic regions, the influence of natural variability can be larger than the influence of human activity ... Over climate timescales of multiple decades, however, global temperature continues to steadily increase."
The Lower 48 states have warmed 1.8 degrees (1 degree Celsius) since 1900 with 1.2 degrees in the last few decades, according to the report. By the end of the century, the U.S. will be 3 to 12 degrees (1.6 to 6.6 degrees Celsius) hotter depending on how much greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, the report warns.
Releasing the report on Black Friday "is a transparent attempt by the Trump administration to bury this report and continue the campaign of not only denying, but suppressing the best of climate science," said study co-author Andrew Light, an international policy expert at the World Resources Institute.
During a press conference Friday, officials behind the report repeatedly declined to answer questions about the timing of its release and why it contradicts public statements from Trump. Report director David Reidmiller said questions about the timing were "relevant," but said what was in the report was more important.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.