GOP Senators Tried to Squash Climate Training for Meteorologists

2019 Global Temperatures Through June: Among Top 5 Hottest on Record

An example of the type of graphics Climate Central provides free of charge.

Climate Central is a nonprofit website that brings scientifically rigorous information about climate change to people in easy to read graphics and statistics. While we often cite them, meteorologists have been big consumers of their data, much to the chagrin of some Senate Republicans who want to nix this source of climate training for meteorologists. As the LA Times reported, “while TV meteorologists have been gobbling up reports and camera-ready graphics on climate change, the work of the New Jersey-based group has alarmed those who seek to cast doubt on the science that defines global warming. Last year, four climate skeptics in the U.S. Senate demanded an investigation of the $4 million in federal funding provided for the Climate Central program, saying it “is not science — it is propagandizing.””

The Accusations: Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and James M. Inhofe and James Lankford, both of Oklahoma wrote a letter of protest to the National Science Foundation in June 2018 charging it with issuing grants to organizations (such as Climate Central) that they view as being in the position to influence politics. They explained in their letter to Inspector General Allison Lerner that the agency had strayed from its mission to support science and possibly violated the Hatch Act, the federal law that prohibits federal employees from taking public political positions. An internal investigation at NSF concluded that limitations on political activity at NSF were not violated in a recent memorandum to the senators. Neither was the Hatch Act. 

  • More specifically, the NSF investigation concluded that the Hatch Act had not been violated. Since violation would include “activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group” the grant that NSF gave to Climate Central did not fit the bill.

Why This Matters: The actions of Senators Cruz, Paul, Inhofe, and Lankford are nothing more than a political stunt. These men are United States senators and have access to the best data and statistics and therefore they can’t feign ignorance when it comes to climate science. Rather they’re simply doing this for political optics. Furthermore, the data that Climate Central provides meteorologists can help them to forecast and warn people of the impacts of natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes–extreme weather events that are a threat in Texas, Oklahoma and Kentucky. This information can help save lives so what reasonable person wouldn’t want it readily accessible?

Up Next

US Green Diplomat Previews Glasgow

US Green Diplomat Previews Glasgow

By WW0 Staff For the United States, the post-Trump, pre-COP26 road to Glasgow has been paved with ambition and humility. In a major speech, the President’s Envoy, John Kerry, previewed the results of his climate diplomacy before heading into two weeks of intense deliberations of world leaders. Speaking at the London School of Economics — […]

Continue Reading 421 words
One Cool Thing: COP26 Coverage Kickoff

One Cool Thing: COP26 Coverage Kickoff

Next week, the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow will draw hundreds of world leaders to Glasgow to determine the path forward five years after the Paris Climate Agreement (for a primer, read this) as new science underscores the urgency. The conference aims to squeeze countries to strengthen the commitments they’ve made towards securing global net-zero […]

Continue Reading 194 words
DOD Says Climate Change Increases National Security Risks

DOD Says Climate Change Increases National Security Risks

By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor In a report released last week, the Department of Defense (DOD) confirmed that existing risks and security challenges in the US are being made worse due to “increasing temperatures; changing precipitation patterns; and more frequent, intense, and unpredictable extreme weather conditions caused by climate change. Now, the Pentagon is […]

Continue Reading 440 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.