EVANSTON, Ill. --- The New York Times story on a “leaked” draft version of a major U.S. climate change report is not really a leak at all and confirms what climate scientists already know, says Northwestern University climate scientist Daniel Horton.

“My understanding is that calling this report a ‘leak’ is a mischaracterization,” said Horton, principal of the Climate Change Research Group in the department of Earth and planetary sciences. “The report has been publicly available for comment for a while now. This is also a draft and subject to revision, meaning it is not the final word of this group.”

Horton specializes in “weather attribution,” or the study of to what degree climate change fuels extreme weather events like heat waves, tropical storms and droughts. He can be reached at 847-467-6185 or [email protected]. He is not available for broadcast interviews. 

Quotes from Horton on the findings of the draft report are below.

Context on the draft’s findings:

“The report itself contains little that is surprising to scientists actively engaged in the field, as it is a summary of the recently published literature and does not include original science,” Horton said. “Of course, some may find the findings in the report alarming. This draft version strongly argues that human caused climate change is ongoing, i.e., we have been and will continue to influence our climate system via the emissions of greenhouse gases, from increasing the average temperature of the planet and likelihood for longer and more intense heatwaves, to providing an environment where more intense precipitation events are likely.”

The report’s findings on extreme weather:

“From an extreme event perspective, this report categorizes the influence of climate change on extreme temperature events as very likely, and states with very high confidence that human caused climate change is responsible for fewer cold waves, while heat waves are more common,” he said. “The report also observes that heavy precipitation events have increased in intensity and frequency over the past century, and projects with high confidence that such a trend will continue into the coming century.”

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