President Donald Trump justified pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement in part due to a study from MIT — but the scientists from that study say the Trump administration completely misunderstood their findings.
“Even if the Paris Agreement were implemented in full, with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100,” Trump explained in his decision to leave the agreement.
But the two-tenths suggestion by Trump, which his administration supposedly received from the MIT study, is way off from what the study actually claimed. The impact of refusing to adhere to the Paris climate agreement could raise temperatures by as little as 0.6 degrees Celsius to as high as 1.1 degrees by 2100.
That sounds insignificant, but those small rises in global averages would have a big impact. As NASA scientists point out, even a half-degree raise in global temperatures can be devastating. “A half degree averaged out over the whole world can mean much more of an increase in some locations and at certain times,” Bob Silberg, a NASA jet-propulsion scientist, wrote last year. Put another way, a half-degree rise can mean temperature rises in some areas as high as 10 degrees higher than usual, which could dramatically hurt agricultural crop growth, for example.
Even the two-tenths figure that Trump cites from the MIT study — which, again, is much lower than what the study actually concludes — would still result in noticeably higher temperatures for much of the world. “If we don’t do anything, we might shoot over 5 degrees or more and that would be catastrophic,” said John Reilly, an MIT faculty member whose focuses include climate change and air pollution, among many other scientific spheres of study.